Setting the Scene
Apologises first, my intention is to publish every week but due to internet connection problems since Friday I have not been able to complete last week’s post until now. You are also getting two instalments in one, so why not settle back with a cuppa or a glass of something festive and hopefully enjoy my Christmas ramblings…
So I’ve been hard at work setting the scene and took myself off to Covent Garden Flower market to seek out those extra special touches. The last time I visited was over 30 years ago with Richy when he was working in his family flower business, forgotten how much I loved it. I returned with some gorgeous cones dipped in black wax and glitter, copper sprayed laurel, some delicate white glittery asparagus fern and bags of scrumptious smelling dried oranges so good they make your mouth water! If you have never visited this wholesale market in Vauxhall London I would definitely put it on your bucket list. Its not quite Eliza Dolittle but its definitely ‘kid in a sweet shop’ stuff and if you’re like me, love flowers and a prop or ten, apart from the fab array of plants and flowers they have loads of props and sundries. You won’t buy as cheaply as the trade do, but it is cheaper, plus you can buy larger quantities if you need to and it definitely has the biggest selection you will ever see. Only £5 entry, open from 4am – 11am (yes thats 4 am, if you ever think florists have a glamorous job, think again!) newcoventgardenflowermarket.com
So my first job was to try out the skills I’d learnt at Gemma Ahern’s flower workshop and make a door wreath. I much prefer this wild and unkempt look thats so ‘in vogue’ right now, it completely sits with the laid back luxe aesthetic I love. It was so easy with the faux stems, you simply bend them round to make a wreath shape and tape them together, then add a couple of softer faux’s to cover gaps, you tape these too and then you can just loop the ends round in a casual way, then simply add cones and oranges, as I have attaching with florist’s wire, or other baubles to cover the tapes, spray with the diluted christmas oil mentioned in part 1, hook on to door, simples! I used the same ingredients and method for both the garland and table centre and of course the great thing is they don’t die and shrivel before there actual day and you get to reuse, win win!
The Devil’s in the Detail..
As you’ve probably guessed by now, my ‘key steps’ involve creating an atmosphere, stimulate the senses and suggest, as opposed to creating an ‘in your face’ christmas grotto, I don’t want it to feel like the local garden centre – ‘this way to Santa’ hell no! Rather more sophisticated I think, adding subtle touches to what is already there, as if a little christmas tinker bell has swung by and dropped a bit of her christmassy glitter over your already beautiful home, enhance is the word, so lets enhance! Where I normally have flowers I simply swop them for Christmas arrangements, I find the glitter twigs with lights are great with just a few other christmassy stems added. Little gold and/or glittery ornaments like the gorgeous gold bird from Rockett St George perched on my pineapple and I already have few regular gold knick knacks around anyway since I am heavily gold orientated at the moment, so these work into my scheme nicely, little sets of string battery lights dotted about are good too. Add the pot pouri with the scrummy dried oranges and few fab cones and some bowls of coloured or metallic baubles here and there, pile up the hearth with plenty of logs and if you haven’t got a real fire think about creating one with clever wall stickers from Pixersize.com
And make sure you add a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ keep it relaxed, we don’t want to be taking ourselves too seriously do we ?
Big it up!
However, whilst the devil is definitely in the detail, one or two eye catchers are also key. This year i’ve bought some fab metallic giant paper fans from Talking Tables they do lots of lovely decs and pompoms in different colours to match your scheme. I have hung mine from the bannisters, which is a great place to hang decs as they don’t encroach on precious hall space, but are a cool way of adding that all important hallway pizzazz. Go for large decorations, you need some key features and scaling up on size is a good way to add them. Rule of thumb, whatever you think is the right size go bigger! It will create impact, trust, if its small or the right size it will get lost, same goes for lights and chandeliers incidentally, people always go for lights that are too small, most of the time they are hanging over things anyway so why do they need to be small and up in the Gods? you’ve found them, loved them, bought them, now show them! go large and hang low where possible for maximum impact, who cares if you have to walk around them, whats the big deal?
Anyway back to key features, the other main feature I have added is a nifty idea I stole from Pinterest. Its always worth putting in that extra bit of effort and adding one homemade arty crafty element, I mean who doesn’t want a bit of praise for effort and creative skills right? “Oh that old thing? just something I threw together” So get yourself down to your local Hobbycraft, that should be enough to bring the Blue Peter out in you. Ok so it doesn’t always go to plan, but you can always scrap it worst comes to the worst. Fortunately this particular project was pretty successful if I do say so myself and sits rather beautifully in my dining room. Luckily I had this old mannequin I bought from eBay years ago and with the help of some Christmas tree branches, some Hessian, which you can buy from Hobbycraft or eBay, some peacock feathers also eBay and some old junk jewellery I picked up at Spitalfields flea market, ( you could also try the charity shop) such as clip on earrings, broken watches etc.. oh and a set of battery lights we’re done! Simply tie something sturdy around the waist, (I used some old electrical wire) add florist wire to the end of each branch and secure the wire to the waist band, add your adornment and it’s done. What do you think? It makes a great alternative to a tree, not that I don’t love trees but I’ve put up, one in the sitting room and one in the Kitchen and you can have too much of a good thing, Hell, I’m starting to sound like Lady C!
The Main Characters
Speaking of trees, for me it has to be real, just love the smell of the pine even if I do hate the dropping of the needles! we always put ours in a stand with water and darling Richy is chief waterer of all living things in our place, well he is the one with the horticultural background after all! I’ve he gone for copper and gold elegance on the sitting room tree and a country animal type theme on the kitchen tree, this is predominantly Owl based in reverence to Olaf, our garden owl, ahhh, sweet…there are some gorgeous animal baubles around this year and although I’ve bought a couple of super stylish Gisela Graham ones to add to the collection, I have also picked up some great ones at Homebase for a fraction of the cost, so they act as the fillers, and I put my ‘best’ ones on the prominent branches.
All that is now needed is to send out the invites. Its always nice to actually send an invitation via post, adds to the build up and creates a sense of occasion which maybe we miss a bit today, I’m all for laid back but it needs to be stylish laid back and Luxe! Quick and easy but so nice to receive, are email invites from paperless post you can chose from their large selection and/or customise to your liking, some are free some not, but its a lovely email to open, pops up out of an envelope.
Act 1 Scene 1
The bar cart is stocked, christmassy canapés arranged on your fanciest gold platter, cocktail glasses are gleaming, the candles are lit and the heady scent of cinnamon and oranges fills the air..
Cue Bing on Spotify (stage left)
Door bell rings – check out antique-door-bells.com suppliers of the real Downton Abbey bell, apparently website of choice for American Downton fans (if your bored this will make you giggle), alternatively download your own Downton chime or other fun stuff at ichime.com
Guests enter, enchanted by the lanterns and frosty display on approach…brushing snow from their boots created by the snow machine you’ve had drafted in courtesy of snowbusiness.com Mmm perhaps thats a step too far, maybe just order one from Amazon Important to set the scene I think 🙂