Naturals love Neutrals
Those grey, white and bone pale walls are the perfect backdrop for rich natural boughs of greenery, bare wood branches, pure snow white candles, and the dull golds and silver decorating of a soft Nordic-style edit.
Authentic pine cones, hessian stockings, paper garlands and painted traditional 19th century-inspired ornaments can be found at any Tiger Store or Euro outlet, and finds from the forest floor on those family walks.
Get those crafty kids into paper
Sorry to come over all Walton’s Mountain, but let’s remember Christmas is a time to get together.
Old style glue and crafting provides not only unique decorations, but plenty of hilarity along the way. Take a look at the fabulous simple things you can make in under an hour for next to nothing with online video guides.
Christmas table centrepieces
From fruit to fresh flowers and twisted snowy branches spiked with candles — every reasonably-sized table can carry a centrepiece for the high days of Christmas.
Work with the shape of the table and ensure the display doesn’t interfere with the real estate necessary for feasting and the vital eye-line of guests. My personal favourite is a frameless mirror laid as a glittering pond flat on the table surface and set with fat white candles, florist’s moss and fringes of fir cuttings.
Amid the faux firs this year are faux bares, such as Paul Costello’s pre-lit trees for Dunnes Stores (€70). These contemporary takes cannot shake a twig at what you can do with one or several stout fallen branches — real and bare. The shape of the whole, its colour and the texture of bark will be its signature.
Alternative ornaments and trim
Arm yourself with dozens of cardboard luggage labels fitted with real twine, plus gold and silver or thick glitter decorating pens (€13.30 for 5 from Baker Ross or try Eason’s).
Use the labels to add individual wishes to your Christmas tree, written out by young and old or even visiting guests. The prayer or wish idea can be done with a simple wrap of colourful wool or ribbon left by the principal tree or a special secondary, Wish Tree to add over the holiday.
It’s easy to be dazzled by the choice in mains-operated lighting, but white no-flash light set on green really cannot be beaten for its pure elegance, and you can use those bright sparks all year for other celebrations too.
Battery operated LED fairy lights crammed into glass jars provide safe glowing lanterns for stair edges, hall tables and even children’s rooms, and at €1.99 a string from any Euro store are my pick for budget-beautiful decorating.
LAGOM FOR CHRISTMAS...
Once explored, it’s hard to buy into the latest media rave for Swedish ‘lagom’ at Christmas.
It’s an old-fashioned at best, and scolding at worst. Even championed by Ikea — it doesn’t translate. The Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines lagom as — ‘enough, sufficient, adequate, just right.’
Balance and restraint? Not something we Irish are known for in the glitter-spangled excesses surrounding the blessed yuletide event.
It’s a principal rather than the polite Danish directive to simple, rustic cosiness encapsulated in Danish ‘hygge’.
Lagom is a much more exacting state of being, rooted in a deeply-valued, personal and political doctrine — it’s social fairness, understatement and consideration in material things.
It reaches towards a determined, sustainable frugality and indulgent treats and chucking ornaments over every surface is not egalitarian Lagom.
Adhering to its true Lutheran spirit would be positively oppressive. It’s best expression is in folksy Christmas cards, modest wrapping and fish-rich julebord edged in saffron buns.
English born blogger Niki Brantmark, who lives near Malmo in Southern Sweden is largely responsible for selling Lagom as a concept in the UK & Ireland, but when it comes to interiors she dives into hygge like a happy Dane!
Old school ornaments
Try to dry any fruit as much as possible before using the oven. Slice and pat with kitchen paper repeatedly. The juicier ones will dry out, it just takes a little longer.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved