There’s a certain irony in the fact that one of the best parts about Christmas is the excitement that comes before it. The festive countdown and all of the buzz that it brings can sometimes be even more enjoyable than the day itself, with merriment increasing as we inch ever closer to the official celebration. A huge contributing factor to this is, of course, the beautiful Christmas decorations that adorn the homes, streets and stores around us, enveloping us in festive cheer from November onwards. To inspire your own Christmas decorating ideas, we turned to our Co-Founder and Creative Director Sue Jones for her favourite festive fixes. From twinkling additions for the tree to fresh takes on Christmas tablescapes, we hope these tips will help you bring a touch of the season’s magic to every space in your home.
While tradition dictates we reach for a palette of red, green and gold, there are no real rules when it comes to Christmas colours. You can think outside of the box and opt for something spectacularly vibrant, select more muted tones for a quieter take on the season or simply stick to the classics. “With Christmas decorations, I think choosing your colour palette is quite important, and I’ve changed my mind a lot over the years on this one,” says Sue. “I’m actually a bit averse to a traditional palette; I like pops of colour, such as acid green, for example – something a little bit different.” The key is to settle on your chosen shades and replicate them throughout the home, whether that’s in the form of your Xmas decorations, tabletop accessories or even your choice of wrapping paper. “When I wrap my presents, I do them all the same, so there’s a big pile of colour,” says Sue. “I’ve done turquoise with purple and pink with red – I like to find something that stands out.”
Whether you opt for the real deal or go faux, select a towering fir or a miniature model, the Christmas tree is an essential part of decorating. The season calls for all things merry and bright, so don’t be afraid to be bold with your choice of Xmas tree decorations. Sue likes to pick a Christmas decoration theme or colour and repeat it on every branch. “One year I did my tree full of robin decorations and they were quite lifelike, which was fine until a real robin got into the house,” she laughs. “Another year I did exotic birds. I also like to use OKA’s honeycomb paper baubles, but I’d decorate the whole tree in just one colour, so it’s a mass of red or purple.” If you’re looking for colourful Christmas decorations, our collection has plenty – from marbled glass ornaments to feather baubles.
No Christmas tree is complete without twinkling lights, of course, and Sue has an alternative suggestion to traditional fairy lights. “I love the LED candles that can be clipped onto a tree,” she says. “It saves you from scrabbling around trying to replace the one bulb that’s gone in the fairy lights – those were the bad old days.”
Don’t let the tree have all the fun – there are plenty of ways to bring a festive feel to other areas of your home. With the warmth of a roaring fire adding to the season's cosy feel, not to mention its connections with the man in red, the fireplace deserves its moment in the spotlight. Consider making it even more of a focal feature with Christmas mantelpiece décor; it’s the ideal place to introduce a few tasteful Christmas decorations. An arrangement of LED candles and seasonal ornaments will bring instant cheer – plus, don’t forget the essential festive foliage. “I have lots of OKA’s faux garlands, and I love wrapping them over mantelpieces, as well as around the banisters on staircases,” says Sue. “I also like to put fresh holly over picture frames.”
With much of the season’s festivities focused on gathering around the table, it’s only natural that Sue’s elegant Christmas decorating ideas extend to the dining room too. A seasoned host, Sue holds “a lot of store in laying up tables,” and will set the scene for lunch or dinner differently each day during the Christmas period. “The whole basis of my Christmas table settings doesn’t change too much, but I might swap the colours, the napkins or the decorations,” she explains. “I always have plenty of accessories on hand to make an occasion out of a meal.” For example, on her Christmas dining table, Sue makes a feature out of her Large Faux Planted Phalaenopsis Gigantea Orchid from OKA, hanging different baubles from the stems and changing them with each meal.
Traditional Christmas crackers are a must for Sue, who loves them so much she creates her own, looking for fun and useful gifts to place inside them, from novelty T-shirts to glasses chains and stationery. Crackers are easy homemade Christmas decorations that, though time consuming, are simple to make and can bring a really lovely touch to your tabletop. “I decorate them with some of OKA’s faux flowers or ribbons, making sure they’re the same colour theme as the table decorations,” the designer explains. “The great thing is you can put a label or tag on them and turn them into place cards. That way everyone knows where they’re sitting, and I can make sure that they get something in the cracker that they would like.”
Though we’re big advocates of Christmas sparkle, more than anything the season is about creating an atmosphere, and oftentimes it’s the subtle details that add to the overall feel of the festivities. “Christmas decorating for me is really about entertaining for friends and family; it’s not about making my house look sensational,” says Sue. “I like to create atmosphere with festive things that people don’t see every day. For example, I make sure that I have loads of logs for the fire so the house feels really cosy. I usually have a big basket of dried oranges too, which I use as kindling. It creates a lovely smell.”
Indeed, it’s warm and inviting spaces, Christmas scents and cosy corners that really make a home feel festive, so bear this in mind when decorating your own space. Don’t fret too much about making it perfect, and remember – the more you plan ahead, the more you’ll be able to enjoy yourself during the festivities themselves. “I do think that’s something people should remember,” says Sue. “Don’t get too hung up on it. Christmas can be very full on. One year I would quite like to go away and spend it on a beach, but I think it is really a time for family and friends, and I thoroughly enjoy that.”