Christmas will (hopefully) be something of a bright light on what’s been a pretty dark horizon this year.
With all the cancelled plans and general lack of merriment over the past few months it’s no surprise that this year people seem keener than ever to have some festive cheer and sparkle around them.
And don’t just take our word for it. Dayna Isom Johnson, trend expert at Etsy, said the online marketplace has seen an earlier interest in Christmas decorations this year “as shoppers prepare to spend more time at home and look to create a festive feel”.
And with such a challenging year (almost) behind us, says Johnson, people are looking to make this season feel a litter brighter with festive decorations that bring them joy.
She adds that Etsy has seen a massive 165 per cent increase in searches for DIY wreaths. But don’t worry, if you don’t have time to make your own, we have some great suggestions for ones you can buy, too.
With all this in mind, we’ve got expert advice on getting your home Christmas-ready from from interior designers Taylor Howes, who carry out interior design all over the world, and and Katie Bird who does beautiful room and interior design across the North East of England.
Jane Landino, design and creative head of Studio at Taylor Howes, says that fairy lights and candles are two of the simplest ways to transform your home for the festive season. “I love to take existing things in my home and decorate them with fairy lights, to give them that Christmassy feel. It creates a focal point in any room, whether it be jars, dried branches or flower arrangements,” she says.
Landino suggests easy options like filling glass jars with battery-powered fairy lights and festive baubles: this can be done with any glass jars or vases you already have in the home.
If you’re putting a fair amount of time and effort into it, you probably want to make sure you get your value for money in terms of how long your decorations stay up: note the tradition is for them to come down on Twelfth Night (5 January).
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IndyBest-rated Christmas decoration for your home
Naturally the tree is something of a focal point when it comes to Christmas decorations. If you don’t have yours yet and are looking for artificial but realistic, we love this white spruce (Vermont Hill, £329) with candlelight clear LEDs.
It’s one of the most realistic artificial trees you’ll see, and comes in just three bits, with the lights turning on automatically when the parts are slotted in place (hurrah!).
It won our Best Buy award in our roundup of the best artificial Christmas trees this year, with our reviewer saying: “No detail has been overlooked, whether it’s the packaging (a cracker-like cardboard box with festive red lettering) or the added extras, like the carry case and a tool kit containing spare bulbs, fuses and gloves.”
If you want to move away from anything to traditional though (or perhaps you want more than one tree up in different styles) you might consider opting for something totally different like this rainbow-coloured tree (Paperchase, £25).
It stands at just 3ft, so great for smaller spaces or if you wanted a smaller second tree for a bedroom or a kids room. The nice thing about this one, as our reviewer notes, is that “there are no lights, but then again, they’re not needed – this tree could probably be seen from outer space” – which we love.
If you don’t have your tree up and you feel you actually want to go for the real deal rather than a faux tree, we can recommend Pines and Needles, which offers trees from 3ft to a staggering 12ft, or the abies Nordmanniana tree (Ikea, £29) which is available in-store, plus you get a £20 voucher thrown in (do check your local store for stock before you visit if you’re keen).
And if you want a real one, we love this noble fir (Waitrose, £58), which made it into our guide of best real fir trees. Our reviewer really liked the lush, two-tone foliage (a combination of dark green and pale blue) and the wide-open spread of the branches".
When it comes to decorating your tree, while you probably have your box of baubles ready to go every year, it can be really nice to change things up with some new bits of sparkle. A new Christmas bauble is also a lovely little gift to give to family member every year as tradition.
With this in mind, each Christmas, Oxfam brings out a lovely selection of handmade embroidered tree decorations. Last year we loved their lobster, which as our reviewer noted is “handmade in India and bought directly from those who made it, with advanced payments on orders before the products are sold. This aims to increase the income of artisans, while preventing them getting into debt, which allows them to continue their craft.”
This year there are a number of designs including a robin, a Scottie dog, a hedgehog and this rather cute bee decoration (Oxfam, £7.99) in gold and black and with the classic embroidery design.
If you want to carry the greenery vibe on around the house, there are some lovely faux foliage options out there. We like the look of this enchanted Christmas garland, (Argos, £15) which, at 1.8m, is a decent length for wrapping around your banisters. It has floral elements and berries on it which have been designed to look hand-picked.
And of course, a Christmas wreath is another classic element to add to your Christmas decor: if you’re buying something really fancy you might want to hang it up inside rather than risking it going missing by putting it on your front door, but that’s up to you. And if you want to put up a wreath, look no further than our guide of best wreaths for 2020 which has some stunners.
This magic wreath (£95, Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart) won the Best Buy award. It doesn’t just look amazing, apparently it smells rather nice too. Our reviewer said it “made us look forward to Christmas as soon as we set our eyes on it”. Decorated with whole oranges, dried orange slices, cinnamon and pine cones, it looks and smells divine and comes in three sizes – small (£95), medium (£125) and large (£185).
Landino from Taylor Howes says she’s really enjoyed making her own wreath this year and she recommends this great Christmas wreath-making kit (FlowerBe, £45) if you want to have a go yourself. There are two options: a natural one and a colourful one, and the kit has pine cones, cinnamon sticks, dried limes, waxed apples and so you can really go to town on how you dress it up.
If you want to do something a bit different though, she recommends getting some dried branches and covering them with mini baubles and lights. She says that this year there is a big trend of using dried flowers as arrangements as they last longer: “I have them all over my home and have put fairy lights in them.” She also suggests using Christmassy flowers such as pussy willow. If you’re a candle fan, Landino recommends trying out LED battery-powered ones which, she says, are cheaper than real ones and last the whole of December. They’re also safer than real ones if you have children about.
Candlelit glow for your home
But if you do want to get the festive hint of spice as well as the lights of Christmas, we’d go for a scented candle, like Glad Tidings (Tussie Mussie, £32) which has a blend of cinnamon, sweet orange, nutmeg and clove. We tested the brand’s blossom candle, which made it to our best scented candles guide, with our reviewer saying: “Tussie Mussie may be an under-the-radar brand but this candle surprised us by rivalling household names like Jo Malone when it comes to filling a big room with fragrance.”
And finally, if you’re fans of advent calendars, note also that they can add a lovely decorative touch to the home. We know it’s past 1 December, but you could always invest if you don’t already have one (and even if you do!): if you buy a reusable one like this Christmas tree advent calendar (Amazon, £16.99), something you can bring out year after year.