Archive: Dec 2013

  1. Dressing the dinner table: 3 Christmas looks to try

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    Wine Glass

    Decorations galore

    Christmas is the perfect time to add some drama to your dinner table, so I’ve used my experience of large events to come up with these three ideas to try. First up is an easy and effective option: gather decorations in coordinating colours, then use them in unexpected ways across your table. Plates can be stacked and ornamented with baubles, or why not tie a decoration to the stem of a wine glass, along with your guest’s name?


    Festive fruit bowl

    Bright sparks

    Everyone has some fairy lights to bring out at this time of year and they can add a touch of magic to your dinner table. Arrange them tumbling out of an elegant vase  or glass jar, or if you really want to pull out the stops, try placing them amongst tangerines or rosy apples for an eye-catching centrepiece. You could even swap a few real fruit for these beaded decorations – they’ll glow beautifully in the light. Merry Christmas!

    Orange table


    Table setting

    Flames and flowers

    When it comes to colour, don’t be afraid to go off-piste: this orange theme looks warm and inviting, especially with hollowed-out oranges creating lightly scented candles. Top and tail the fruit then cut it in half, scooping out its insides. Carefully place a tea light inside and put the top back on, but remember not to leave your lit candles unattended. You can complete the look with lush organza ribbon – or raffia thread for a more rustic effect – tying it around bundles of twigs, flowers or your guests’ cutlery. If your tastes are more traditional, just switch your colour scheme to red for a more typically festive table. Merry Christmas!



    Caroline Wood  is an interior designer based in Wiltshire.

    Images: Jan Baldwin/Narratives, Photoshot/Red Cover/James Mitchell, Shutterstock.

    Illustrations: Caroline Wood.



  2. All about … your Christmas kitchen

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    If Christmas dinner is the biggest show you put on all year, then it’s time to start setting the scene. Success is all in the planning so take time to follow a few simple steps.

    Choose your equipment

    Last Christmas may seem like ages ago but try to cast your mind back: were there any kitchen tools you wished you had and didn’t? Or are there any once-a-year items hiding at the back of your cupboards, which may now be past their best? Get out your artillery and give it a once over: key considerations are a big enough roasting tin, pastry brushes that aren’t shedding hairs and a trusty rolling pin.


    Get crafty

    Jams and infused oils make great, personal gifts – and if you haven’t collected enough jars to present them in, don’t panic! This Kilner klip top jar is perfect choice and can be re-used by lucky recipient, while this wine bottle saves you making your own label. Job done.

    Full house

    It may seem obvious, but do you have enough tableware for all your guests? Plus don’t forget lots of smaller plates to catch crumbs from the endless cake, biscuits and chocolates that get handed round all season.

    Finally, a doorstop could be one of your best investments this season: not only will it stop the door from slamming as you dash in and out of the kitchen, it’ll help to prevent young guests from trapping their fingers! Here’s to a worry-free Christmas in your kitchen.

    Tip of the week:

    Try tying a gift tag to a napkin ring to make a named place setting – and don’t forget to visit our blog next week for expert tips on dressing your table for the big day.


  3. How to… do Christmas decorations with a twist


    Christmas is all about family and tradition, but traditions vary from home to home. Whether you wait until after lunch to open your presents or dive in as soon as you’re awake, there are lots of ways to enjoy the season – so why not take a personal approach to your decorations, too? We’ve picked our top ideas for making this Christmas your most stylish – and individual – yet.

    Colour pop

    Boxes of decorations are often overflowing with hand-me-downs, which rarely follow a theme and are often piled enthusiastically onto the tree. This year, why not be selective and choose a single colour scheme? You can get the kids involved in sorting your baubles and trinkets into colours before letting them run wild (with your chosen shade) on the branches. Everybody’s happy!

    Lovely lighting

    Fairy lights aren’t just for the tree – why not create focus around a living room doorway with strings of lights and foliage for a grotto-like effect? You can also lighten a dark corner with this gorgeous lantern, scattering decorations around it to maximise the sparkle: just be sure to keep it out of the reach of children and not to leave a lit candle unattended.


    All wrapped up

    Give your gifts an eco feel by wrapping in brown paper and string, then add some contrasting pizzazz with baubles tied on top. When it comes to what to put in the parcels, we’d be pleased to unwrap anything from the 1920s-inspired Gold Rush collection – these light-reflective pieces are perfect for the festive period.

    Tip of the week:

    Keep hold of your favourite Christmas cards for crafting opportunities next year: the cut-up pictures make perfect gift tags or seasonal fillers for picture frames.