It’s nearly time to dress the tree and your home for the festive season. Homespun guru Kirstie Allsopp and decor experts share their seasonal style tips with Gabrielle Fagan
Kirstie Allsopp’s rushing around thinking about robins, baubles, tinsel and all sorts of Christmas things. While the rest of us probably end up in a last-minute rush untangling decorations and checking the fairy lights, the property and home expert has impressively already chosen her colour theme and even produced a hand-made Robin decoration.
“It’s really early I know, and not like me,” she says with an apologetic smile. “Normally, it’s well into December before I get myself organised, but I’ve been able to ‘cheat’ this year as I’ve done bits and pieces over the last few months as part of my work.”
Allsopp’s been able to steal a march on the rest of us as some of her projects for her latest Channel Four TV series, Kirstie’s Handmade Britain, have been Christmas-focused.
“I’ve always had the children’s home-made decorations and now I’m going to have my own — I’m hoping to make a few more robins if I have time. It gives the tree a lovely personal feel,” she says.
It will be a getaway Christmas for the presenter, who’s leaving London and spending the festive season in her family holiday home in Devon, with her partner, Ben Andersen, their two sons, Bay, five, and Oscar, three, and Andersen’s sons from his previous marriage, Orion 11, and Hal, eight.
“We can have an enormous real tree there, which Ben staggers home with and then puts up with me shouting instructions.
“The boys and I have a great time choosing what to go on it,” she says with a beam.
“I absolutely love decorations and put a lot of time into making the whole house look really festive. I’m certainly not a puritan about the ‘look’ — honestly, you can’t have too much colour and sparkle,” she says.
Allsopp says there’s no need to stress about seasonal decor. “It’s a time of year when you can let your imagination go wild. If you’re struggling on a colour theme, simply pick the colour which features on most of your baubles.
“There are no taste rules in my book. The only bad tree is an undecorated tree,” she says.
“I even indulged my love of decorations last year by buying some lovely new baubles and Christmas decorations for myself, and giving some away as gifts, which was really popular.”
Create a sparkling festive setting by following decor tips from Kirstie and some top interior experts.
KIRSTIE’S HOME-MADE CHRISTMAS
“My favourite theme this year is red and white, which has a country-Scandinavian feel,” says Allsopp, who demonstrates how to make decorations and garlands on a video for B&Q.
“I like the tree and the table to have the same colours, and find that lots of greenery — holly and ivy — is a calming, natural contrast to the fussy detail of decorations.
“Get a hand-made look with felt embroidered decorations or painted wooden ones, and add a traditional touch with tiny robins and reindeer.
“I also love tinsel for instant sparkle. You can wrap it along stair rails, or use it to tie a name label to each chair,” she adds.
She dresses her table with a garland of holly and ivy down the centre, entwined around large silver and glass candlesticks, and intersperses tubs of red poinsettias. White napkins embroidered with red Christmas trees are a finishing touch.
GET THE LOOK
Red Robins, from £12 each, by Indigo & Rose; Red paper bells and globes, from £1.50 each, from RE; Red Tin tealight holders with a heart detail, £2.99, from The Con
temporary Home; 2m LED Tinsel Garland, £7, from B&Q. Tesco & Sainsbury’s have a glorious selection of red and white decorations, too.
Kirstie Allsopp’s guide to making Christmas decorations and garlands are on YouTube. Search for ‘Kirstie Allsopp’ and ‘B&Q’
“White and silver, with green foliage, is my favourite theme this year,” says Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company.
“I like the home to look magical and use trails of greenery intertwined with baubles and fairy lights for the mantelpiece, the stair bannisters and on the hall table.
“As well as decorating the tree, this year I’m using burnished silver and vintage-style glass decorations. I thread two or three baubles on to a pretty ribbon and hang it in front of windows, mirrors and pictures, and from door and cupboard handles.
“Wreaths are so versatile and I often hang one over the dining table, or lay one flat and fill it with three big white pillar candles.”
Her table decoration is classic and simple: A runner down the centre and a parade of tealights in glass holders, mixed with varying sizes of glass candlesticks, as well as glass vases filled with white roses and hyacinths.
GET THE LOOK
Glass 2-Ball Pillar Candle Holder, £35; Frosted Leaf Wreath, £65, and Battery Operated LED Pin Lights, £15; box of four ceramic heart-shaped tealights, £18, all from The White Company. Make a statement with Marks & Spencer’s splendid silver Stag Tealight Holder, £125, available now in store and online late November; and Next’s Snowy Paper Tree, £50, will also look stunning in any contemporary home.
VERY BERRY CHRISTMAS
“This year’s hippest Christmas look is all about going bold with vibrant berry shades,” says Isobel McKenzie-Price, editorial director of Ideal Home magazine.
“Pink-toned colours like raspberry, grape, blackcurrant and magenta have been the best-selling shades in decorating for the past couple of years, so it’s no surprise that they’ve now become the hottest look for the festive season.”
Zingy raspberry and rich, plummy purples will give decorations a contemporary edge, she says, especially if they’re mixed with bronze or gold accessories to add depth.
“For impact, choose a plum or grey tree, and go for a few super-sized statement decorations, rather than a mass of tiny baubles. Mix in gold baubles with berry shades for a really jewelled vintage look.”
For a professional stylist’s effect, she advises using a selection of baubles in complementing hues, starting with paler pinks and shading up to deeper purples.
“Also, work with threes for festive drama — hang a cluster of three large baubles on a door, and display three wreaths on a plain wall.”
GET THE LOOK
John Lewis’s graphite tree, £80, and baubles from £3 each; Tesco’s Mixed Bauble Set contains 30 purple decorations, £3.50 in store; Next’s 50-piece Mixed Bauble Set, £10; Giant Classic 250mm baubles, from £9.95 each, from DZD.