Home truths: how do you decorate for Christmas?
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In the December edition of home truths Prudence is going full camp whilst India is prepping for a handmade holiday season
Prudence: is letting her inner kitsch run free
Always a fan of a theme and a fully paid up member of the camp brigade, Christmas is a total delight for me when it comes to decorating my home.
For the rest of the year I am fairly willing to compromise about home décor and not turn my flat into the kitsch collector’s paradise that in my heart of hearts I would wish it to be if only I hadn’t somehow ended up living with a BOY, come Christmas I rule the roost with an iron fist. Mr Prudence says ‘no tinsel?’ He can stuff it! At Christmas more is most definitely more.
That said, I do always find it helps to anchor everything around a loose theme: I’ve had an Art Deco Egyptian Christmas, a Tiki Christmas, an imperial Russian Christmas… the list goes on.
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This year, I’ve got my heart set on a Belle Epoque, Mitteleuropean fest – I blame a longstanding addiction to The Wolseley and its sister restaurants and my recent discovery of the Austrian author Stefan Zweig. The elegiac opulence of that time also feels appropriate in what has been a very strange year.
Before you go thinking that this must involve a vast production budget and an entire new wardrobe of Christmas home accessories each year I should point out that I, in fact, spend next to nothing on festive decorations and I’m not sure I’d splash out very much even if funds did allow.
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There are unavoidable basics: the biggest tree the living room will fit (real, of course), a sprig of mistletoe for hallway kissing, and heaps of clementines and nuts – but for the finishing touches I’ll be squeezing in some quality cosy time with glitter, cardboard, glue and Home Alone.
In reality, the annual theme doubtless exists more strongly in my imagination than it does in the flesh. I suspect it will manifest itself mostly in the food and drinks I offer anyone who pops round, in any Christmas cards I make, and in the one new tree decoration I allow myself to buy each year.
Other than that, it’ll be back to the collection of vintage baubles I picked up cheap the first year I didn’t live in a house share and was facing the prospect of a very sparse tree. I discovered that nice tree decorations were jaw-droppingly expensive so found a job lot of scuffed and scratched 1950s globes, which twinkle and bob but don’t bear close inspection.
They will be joined by an overload of fairy lights to shortcircuit the electricity with, abundant tinsel, and home made bits and pieces gifted by my clever crafty friends over the years.
And what about the Art Nouveau glamour of Belle Epoque Vienna? Well, it’ll be there, if only in my head.
India: is starting her own Christmas traditions
This year marks my First Adult Christmas. I’ve not lived at home for six years, but unless I’m gallivanting abroad Christmas sees me descending on my parents for at least two weeks, reverting to a childlike state and stretching their generous hospitality as far as I dare.
This year I will be both in the country and in possession of a non-parental address. Sure, come Christmas Eve I’ll be battling the trains along with the 3,476,586,594,040 other people exiting the capital, but I want my own London pad to feel suitably festive first.
This leaves me in a quandary of how to decorate my own home without any traditions – or boxes upon boxes of decorations to hand.
My family has a carefully collected our tree decoration selection over the years, each imbued with memories.
They still have the delicate gold stars and silver moons my father made for their first Christmas together as a married couple living on an army base in Germany. Embroidered silk Chinese figures from the Christmas my brother came home in Hong Kong nestle in tissue paper next to gloriously kitsch ornaments sent over each year from our American cousins.
My personal collection of baubles is exactly nil, and I’m loathe to start collecting now.
For one there’s the cost. I don’t want to waste cash on tat when I could be spending it on gifts for loved ones.
I also don’t have the storage space or the inclination to start lugging boxes of breakables around the city from now until I can afford a property (so when I’m about 135, then).
I’m also not sure I want a tree. There’s a plastic one lurking somewhere in the bowels of our under stair cupboard but I have a horror of them.
My first work experience at the tender age of 16 was spent packing and unpacking plastic trees for a ‘Christmas in July’ press show.
The trees were a garish purple and upside down (the late 2000s were wild) and I left with a resolution not to tangle with coloured plastic foliage or PR ever again.
I could unleash my inner 10 year old. Tinsel was always verboten in our house, so I have a perverse fascination with the sparkly forbidden fruit. But in all honestly – revolting millennial that I am – I want my décor to be Instagram friendly
So this year I’ll be embracing the handmade. In fact, I’m ridiculously ahead.
Last week I spent a champagne soaked Monday afternoon hand making my very own festive wreath, tucked away in the private dining room of the Islington Townhouse, surrounded by social media ~influencers~ and under the careful tutelage of Jo Woodward of Columbia Creative.
It was a little wild and rough around the edges but it looks absolutely cracking on my front door - and through the Clarendon filter on Instagram.