Interiosity offer expert advice and top tips for Christmas decorating

Interiosity co-owners Nicole Reid and Caroline Breen at their shop in St Patrick’s Woollen Mills in Douglas, Cork.

Short on ideas for Christmas decorating? There’s expert advice available on new trends and approaches inspired by ghosts of Christmas past, writes Carol O’Callaghan.

It’s time for major disturbances as dusty boxes come down from the attic and our homes have the potential to turn into Santa’s grotto.

Or maybe you are among the Christmas zealots for whom the season starts as soon as Halloween cobwebs are filed away for next year while awaiting television adverts airing heroic narratives of Kevin the Carrot navigating the yuletide machinations of the evil incarnate Pascal the Parsnip.

If that’s the case then you might be drawn to Instagram. One page alone – @christmasallyear_round – has an evangelical following of nearly 59,000.

My own preference is to follow the old tradition of putting up the decorations after December 8, and this year I’m taking the advice of some ladies of considerable taste to do it in the mayhem-free fashion of decorating in slow mode.

They are Caroline Breen and Nicole Reid, owners of the tasty home interiors boutique, Interiorsity. Together they advocate taking out decorations in increments so stress is minimal and intensive disruption avoided. It’s also part of the nostalgia theme we’re seeing this year, harking back to when life was slower and simple pleasures savoured.

“This year the look is traditional and vintage with little bits of red,” says Caroline. “We’re seeing lots of metallic decorations in the shape of cars with a Christmas tree on top and woolly felted decorations with a handcrafted feel.”

But it’s not taking itself too seriously either, it seems. “There’s a bit of kitch-mas,” says Caroline. “Snow globes are big this year. Decorations are a throwback to what we had in childhood, but definitely no tinsel. Invest in swags, instead, for the fireplace, and wreaths. You’ll get years out of them if you buy a nice one.”

When it comes to the all-essential tree, Caroline says go real. “If you have big lights, go small on decorations. With small lights, go big on decorations.”

And for those of us who deal with the inevitable gap in branches on a real tree, she advises, “Have a big decoration to fill the space, something like a lantern. Add in plain lights, no LED or colour. If you’re worried that the kids will sabotage your look, give them their own little tree to decorate.”

The other big trend is to make a showpiece of your Christmas dinner table. This is Nicole’s department.

“Nothing should interfere with the food,” she stresses. “Decorations on the table should be portable. If you have a buffet to the side you can move your candelabra there, or even have a drinks’ trolley for bits and pieces and to double up as a dessert trolley. Any decorations should be low level [to allow] for conversation. An alternative would be to have something like a swag suspended overhead.”

Among the colourways on-trend this year is something unexpected. “Teal tablewares with copper candleholders is a more grown-up look,” Nicole explains. “You can also use it for other occasions during the year.”

Teal and copper table setting

As grown-up styling won’t quite meld with a Christmas dining tables besieged by children, Nicole suggests the Scandi look. “Have just a runner with some colour in it, and battery operated lights rather than candles.” Now that you’re buying into the tinsel-free Christmas, it might not feel festive enough to have just a tree and stylish dining table. Nicole is a fan of vignettes. 

Make your hall table festive for visitors arriving. Remove the things that are there all year and have a candle or diffuser. Add in a floral or branch.If you have several small items they might create a cluttered looking effect, so put them on a tray to contain it all. Festive stems with berries are a natural, uncontrived look and you get longer life out of them.

Scandi table setting

Taking the idea a step further, she has a treatment for the front doorstep before visitors even make it to the hallway. “Have some lanterns and make a scene in each one with different levels of candles and greenery, and fake snow,” she advises.

Caroline and Nicole are running a pop-up shop all month long, full of Christmas related products displayed in a living style arrangement. It’s located just a few doors away from their main shop in St Patrick’s Woollen Mills, Douglas, Cork.

All pictures: Larry Cummins

Top tips

Tick off Caroline and Nicole’s checklist for successful Christmas decorating.

1. Stick with a colour scheme.

2. Use lots of candles and lights for atmosphere, but avoid LEDs and coloured bulbs.

3. Bring out your good things, particularly tablewares, tablecloths, and napkins.

4. Don’t overcrowd tables and consoles.

5. Have somewhere to the side to move candelabra and centrepieces to make room for serving dishes on the table.

6. Steer clear of tinsel.

7. Invest in bigger decorative pieces, wreaths and garlands in particular.

8. Give children their own tree to decorate as they wish.

9. In addition to a front-door wreath, have lanterns on the step filled with candles or battery-operated lights and festive ornaments.

10. Don’t get stressed out — enjoy the process.

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