Christmas style from The White Company
The prospect of welcoming guests at this time of year can be daunting, but a little preparation and a dose of creative flair are all it takes to pack a festive punch. Here’s our guide to ensuring a stress-free celebration:
1. FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Nothing creates a warmer welcome than a festive front door. Hang a wreath for instant allure and make sure your pathway is well-lit. Try weaving outdoor LED lights into miniature trees, plants or box hedging either side of the door, while candlelit, frost-proof hurricane lamps will set the scene.
2. SPRUCE UP
Your Christmas tree will be the focal point, but unexpected decorative touches really up the wow-factor so don’t neglect hallways, consoles and corners. “A few sets of warm white battery-lit fairy lights are perfect for a last minute addition of seasonal twinkle,” says stylist Ali Brown (www.alibrownstylist.com). “I weave them through a fir garland to make the basis of a pretty table centrepiece. Another tip is to dress sconces or swing arm wall lights with a few stems of real or faux foliage hanging below. Secure them with string or wire, then use coloured silk ribbon or linen braid to attach them.”
3. REVISE YOUR LAYOUT
Creating a convivial seating scheme ensures that your guests feel instantly at home. Look at your living room with an objective eye and consider how its layout could be improved. Try anchoring the space with a generous coffee table, adding seating either side for easy eye contact. A pair of sofas or a sofa and armchairs facing each other is a smart, symmetrical look. Use extra side tables for convenient placing of drinks and nibbles.
4. LIGHT IT RIGHT
Rowen & Wren’s Twinkle Leaf Garland
Plenty of soft, ambient lighting such as a mixture of table lamps and freestanding lights is a must at this time of year so banish the stark glare of an overhead pendant. Instead aim for soft pools of light, supplemented with the twinkle of fairy lights. Adding a lit decoration along the mantel provides aesthetic appeal too – we love Rowen & Wren’s delicate Twinkle Leaf Garland, £42.
5. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It’s all in the prep – if you are seating a large number for lunch or dinner, plan your table beforehand. “You may have some great ideas, but until you do a practice run, you won’t know if something doesn’t work,” advises Katherine Hélène, Creative Director at Hélène Millot Furnishings. “Try to lay the table a few days in advance. You might discover that it is too narrow to fit all the wares you have in mind, or too big for your overall creative vision. If you have time, create a moodboard to help you filter ideas.”
6. ON TREND
On trend sherbet shades and luxe golds at John Lewis
Switch it up a little by referencing this year’s hottest looks. Rose golds, coppers and pastels introduce a sense of relaxed luxe. John Lewis’ (Ostravia range), a delicious combination of sherbet shades and luxe golds, will add charm to any table. Remember that you’ll also need a cohesive thread running through your tablescape. “Run a theme, such as a colour, throughout the house to tie in everything,” suggests Angie Pinkney of Decara Home (www.decara-home.co.uk). “Try using crystal glasses for a touch of glamour, along with an eye-catching centrepiece. Candles, name places and attractive napkin rings all add a sense of occasion, while a small gift on the table for each guest is a welcome surprise.”
7. DINE IN STYLE
Catering for large groups requires plenty of forethought. Try to keep the table free of clutter, letting your place settings shine instead. At this time of year, a nearby console table is ideal for accommodating extraneous objects such as water jugs, additional plates and cutlery, cheese plates and accompaniments. Dress it with white linen and a large vase of foliage for a chic look. “White plates set off food beautifully,” adds founder Chrissie Rucker, MBE, founder of The White Company (www.thewhitecompany.com). “I like to pair them with linen napkins and a sprig of rosemary from the garden.”
8. MIX IT UP
Culinary Concepts’ Knot and Leaf cutlery
A touch of the unexpected is a great way to create a memorable event, so try finding new uses for favourite pieces. Serve desserts in champagne coupes or cocktail glasses for a fun twist, turn traditional silverware into impromptu vases or fruit bowls, or present cheese on a cake stand. Fortnum & Mason (www.fortnumandmason.com) is a go-to for classic accouterments, while the range of Knot and Leaf cutlery from Culinary Concepts (from £7.50, www.culinaryconcepts.co.uk) are affordable contemporary alternatives.
9. AND SO TO BED
Pay special attention to your guest bedroom. Make sure it is warm, add a side table and a water jug, table lamps, books and candles. “Throws, layered in various weights and textures, play a big part in my Christmas decorations,” says Larissa Cairns at The Linen Works (www.thelinenworks.co.uk). “Use them to add a little dimension to a guest room; they are great at bringing an element of cocooning warmth into a scheme.” And if your spare room is an impromptu affair, such as a sofa bed in a study, declutter first for a restorative atmosphere.
10. ADD A TOUCH OF HOTEL LUXE
Be inspired by your favourite hotel schemes. Pay attention to bathrooms, making sure they are clean and clear; leave miniature toiletries out for your guests, along with soft, clean towels and switch on electric towel rails. In the bedroom, leave a filled hot water bottle under the pillow as the evening draws in and add some fun and festive touches such as candy-filled bonbon jars, fragrant candles and a few foraged bunches of berries, twigs and seasonal flowers.
By Emma J Page