Behind The Scenes: Styling For Christmas
Our luxury homes are well and truly dressed for the festive season, so we’re taking you behind the scenes to share some simple but effective ways you can sprinkle some extra Christmas magic at home this year, in true Unique Home Stay style.
That wonderful time of the year is only a few weeks away, when we gather together our friends and loved ones to enjoy laughter and good food; reminisce on the year’s events and share our plans for the year ahead. It’s a time for family traditions and memory making, so let’s keep things simple to ensure you don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. Styling for Christmas really doesn’t need to be complicated.
One of the most satisfying ways to deck the halls is by scouring hedgerows to gather your own trimmings and seasonal foliage (plus it means you avoid the high street crowds!). A ramble in the countryside can provide pine cones, rosehips, moss covered logs, holly and ivy and clusters of berries, all of which add interest and texture - just ensure you're not trespassing before you fill your basket. Steal a couple of the lower branches from your fresh Christmas tree to add to your selection too, then tie with raffia or red ribbon to create something perfect for adorning the beams and fireplace lintels.
Trailing ivy and evergreen foliage can also be twisted into swags for winding around banisters. Just lay all the greenery out in a long line and tie it together, twisting slightly as you go using fine florists’ wire. Stunning on its own or with twinkling fairy lights woven in.
Use aromatic leaves and herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme arranged around the base of a sturdy church candle to make a wonderful table centrepiece.
For me, nothing says "Christmas is coming" more than when I’m prepping citrus fruits to add to my homemade swags and wreath. Not only is it fun (and the children love helping) but the whole house takes on that wonderful smell of the holidays. Plus, of course, you can toss them into the compost pile in January, in an eco-friendly manner.
So, if you’re ready with your favourite Christmas CD (a tradition in our household when doing this), here’s my step-by-step guide to preparing those Christmas fruit ornaments.
- A handful of large oranges – any size
- Chopping board & sharp knife
- Kitchen towel or a couple of tea towels
- Wire rack
Set your oven to its lowest setting – drying time is approximately 2 to 3 hours
Cut your oranges into thin slices (no more than 1inch thick – the thinner the slice, the quicker it will dry and the more opaque it will become). I usually insert a fork at one end of the orange whilst slicing just to be safe.
Place the orange slices between two tea towels or kitchen paper to blot out the excess juice. This will help the slices dry faster!
Add the cloves – pinwheel style - pushing each one through the peel on the orange. It can be fiddly but using a cocktail stick to make small holes should help!
Place the oranges directly onto a wire rack and place in the oven.
Leave in the oven for about 2 to 3 hours, turning often to prevent the slices from sticking to the rack.
The slices will shrink and darken in colour. Allow to cool and then get your creative juices flowing.
These can now be used all over the house to add to the festive cheer. You can string the slices together with cinnamon sticks to garland the mantelpiece, place in a large glass jar along with pine cones or thread them with red ribbon to add to the tree!
Choosing your tree in the run up to Christmas is always exciting but remember that size matters when making your selection. Too often a tree looks much smaller at the farm shop than it actually is. We want to keep those top branches for our fairy, remember. It’s very hard to estimate a tree’s size by eye, so measure the space you want your tree to fit in before you go and don’t forget the tree stand will add height too. Oh and give those branches a shake before you buy; if a lot of needles fall, leave that one behind.
Now, I'm not a poinsettia-loving kind of gal, so I annually call on my local florist, Wadebridge Flowers for inspiration, preferring a classic white or cream palate. Like many independent florists, Wadebridge Flowers have a wonderful selection and are happy to take orders if you have a particular or more unusual hankering when it comes to floral decorations. This year, I kept it fairly neutral with bundles of eucalyptus (my favourite), red berries and white blooms which make simple but striking table dressings using old jars and pots. For the final touch form a line of the jars along the centre of your table alternating with candles in terracotta pots cushioned by reindeer moss - Church candles offer stunning simplicity or try nestling candles of differing heights together to create a centrepiece that is so beautiful it will make the angels sing. Now the decorations are done that should leave enough time to stuff the turkey, wrap the presents, peel the spuds, get the Prosecco on ice...or whatever else you've got left on the list!
From all of us here at Unique Home Stays we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We look forward to welcoming many of you at our properties over the festive period and to making new acquaintances in 2017!