We all know that Christmas may look a little different this year, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking forward to celebrating and decorating your home. Putting up the tree, hanging your baubles, and turning on the Christmas lights, for many, brings joy and cheer, marking the beginning of the festive season.
As it’s likely that many of us will be spending more time at home than ever before this Christmas, why not take this as an opportunity to mix things up a little? You could try a new festive theme or deck out new areas of your house.
Many people around the UK have already started putting their decorations up, but if you’ve yet to start transforming your home into a festive grotto, then prepare to be inspired…
Here, Good Housekeeping chats to nine of the UK’s leading interior designers, home influencers, head buyers for top interior brands and our own in-house homes experts to get the inside scoop on how they’ll be decorating for Christmas this year, covering 2020’s big decoration themes and their top tips for recreating the looks at home.
Christmas decoration ideas from interiors experts
Chrissie Rucker, OBE owner and founder The White Company
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? “I only use white and clear decorations, with a mix of natural and faux foliage,” Chrissie explains.
“Dressing the tree will start with cluster lights. The White Company’s are the best fairy lights I have ever discovered. They are tiny, but there are lots of them, and they look so beautiful you could almost use just them alone on a tree,” she continues.
“On the tree, I love white fairy lights and then a mixture of glass and white baubles, many of which I have collected over the years, including a few vintage finds.”
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? Make sure you decorate in good time. “I aim to have decorated the house as much as possible two weeks before Christmas and I mix real and faux greenery. These days, you can find some amazing faux finishes for trees, wreaths, and garlands. If you mix these up with great fairy lights, lots of candles and any real flowers and greenery a couple of days before, it a real timesaver,” she explains.
Her next tip: don’t forget to spread Christmas through the entire house. “I use our smaller pre-lit faux trees on the windowsills and on dressers in guest bedrooms, and also in the kitchen – they are super quick to do and look so festive.”
Finally, don’t be afraid to dress up your mantelpieces, she adds. “If you have a fireplace, a mantelpiece is a great focal point of the room to make extra special at Christmas times. I love to continue the theme of greenery from the garden mixed with a faux garland and then wind in fairy lights (battery-operated are a great option here). I also add a few pine cones or tree decorations, and layer in some storm lanterns with candles, which look quite magical.”
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? Chrissie hopes not. “As a family tradition, we decorate the tree together, with a mixture of decorations which I have collected over the years, so no need to buy new. We’re hoping to decorate two weeks in advance, as usual,” she shares.
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Kelly Hoppen, CBE owner and interior designer at Kelly Hoppen Interiors
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? “This year, the colour scheme that I’ve chosen for our home is a simple but elegant matte white, silver and grey palette,” explains Kelly. She’ll be using vintage baubles on the Christmas tree, and hanging up lots of fairy lights throughout the house. “Fairy lights produce such a cosy and joyful feeling – it’s one of the one of the best parts of Christmas for me,” she shares. She also has some vintage children’s tree decorations that her grandson, Rudy, loves. “They’re fun and engaging for children, but still classy and stylish,” she goes on.
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? “Choosing a decorating scheme for Christmas can be tricky, so I recommend creating a mood board with three core colours that complement each other,” Kelly shares. For example, gold, red and glass, or forest green, silver and white.
She adds that, of course, there is nothing wrong with decorating your home with a rogue ensemble of ornaments you’ve collected over the years. “They’ll likely have fond memories attached to them,” she adds. “And Christmas should be about creating happiness and joy in our homes, whether that means a beautiful, harmonious colour scheme or a mishmash of well-loved knick-knacks.” Hear, hear.
Kelly doesn’t just use fairy lights on the tree, but throughout the house. “I’ll definitely be hanging as many as I can this winter,” she shares. One of her top tips is to wrap them around key design features, such as stair bannisters, or arrange them inside a clear vase. “While easy to put up, these details will make all the difference in giving your home that extra touch of much-needed festive spirit,” she shares.
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? Kelly reckons making this festive season extra special is important, so yes. “After a year that has been so tough for many people, I definitely think we are all in need of some early Christmas cheer and making this festive season as special as possible,” she explains. “At my house, the wreaths are already up, and I’ll be decorating the tree at the crack of dawn on 30 November. I love my artificial tree and have used it for years, and I’d recommend one as a great option if you feel safer ordering a tree online this year, rather than picking it up in-person.”
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Julia Kendell, interior designer
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? “This Christmas, I’m all about the foliage, a neutral decorating palette and candlelight,” shares Julia. “Whether it’s succulents, cacti or ivy, wherever I can, I’ll be adorning the house with a touch of greenery from the great outdoors,” she explains.
After 30 years of avoiding faux Christmas trees, Julia invested in a really good quality one a couple of years ago and says she hasn’t looked back. “There’s something rather lovely about taking the ‘family tree’ out of its box, reminiscent of my ’70s childhood before we all became snooty about these things,” she shares. “Plus, it feels much better to be re-using each year rather, than dragging the bare-branched remnants of a real tree to the local tip in January,” she goes on.
To ensure the faux tree looks its best, she always adds some real evergreen foliage from her garden which makes it ‘come alive’. “This year, I might add in some sprigs of gypsophila, too. I use clear fillable baubles, some filled with succulents to create mini terrariums,” she explains.
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? Julia stresses how important it is this year to support small businesses and artisans. “Try seeking out a few new handmade decorations – I’ve been buying macrame decorations to add to my growing ‘boho’ collection,” she shares. “To finish off, I’ll strategically place some small antlers I bought from eBay, a pampas grass topper and, for extra tree-twinkle, I have invested in beautiful heavily-lit cluster lights in warm white and doubled up the quantity,” she adds.
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? Julia points out how tough a year 2020 has been, and so emphasises how much we’ll all be in need of relaxing Christmas comfort. Although, don’t feel pressure to put decorations up early just because everyone else is. “I can’t imagine we’ll be putting up the decorations any earlier this year as the house is such a tip after nine months of working from home,” she shares. “Although I will rustle up a front door wreath soon – they are so easy to make with a rattan circle, foliage and some floristry wire.”
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Lisa Dawson, interiors blogger and author of Resourceful Living
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? “Greenery, lots of colour and even more sparkles!” Lisa shares. “Lockdown has made us all more appreciative of the outdoors, and I’m bringing that into my home this festive season with plenty of faux eucalyptus and fir,” she explains. She’ll be adorning the staircase with greenery and fairy lights, then adding in colour with decorations and garlands.
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? Support local and make the most of what you’ve already got. “I’ve bought a few new items from a selection of smaller businesses and eBay, and I’ll mostly be using what I have already got. I’m also keen to support small and independent during these difficult times, so I’ve ordered my tree from a local supplier, which you could do, too,” she suggests.
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? In short, yes. “I think that this year we are all more than ready for some festive fun,” Lisa shares. “It’s going to be quite a different sort of holiday than usual and I’ve certainly noticed that decorations are going up much earlier to lighten the mood. My own tree will be going up at the end of November and this year, I’m picking a real tree. For the last three years, I’ve gone faux but I’m keen to make the most of every element of the season and that includes that lovely woody smell,” she explains.
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Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy’s trend expert
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? “The “Cottagecore” trend – that’s the nostalgia-inspired movement that’s all about bringing back pastoral aesthetics and activities,” explains Dayna. “Cottagecore has taken hold throughout 2020, so it’s no surprise that the trend is extending into the holiday season. This year, I’ll be opting for Christmas decor that is reminiscent of a time before technology, such as hand-embroidered ornaments, knitted stockings and DIY Wreaths,” she adds.
Fun fact: On Etsy, there’s been a 16% increase in searches for crochet, knit, or embroidered ornaments and 165% increase in searches for DIY Wreaths.
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? “If you’ve honed in on your DIY abilities or have new-found creative skills this year, why not try making your own Christmas decorations? “Paper ornaments or some personalised stamped cookies could be fun,” says Dayna. “Making your own decorations is not only a fun activity for the family, but also adds a personal touch to your celebrations,” she shares.
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? Yes, it is. “On Etsy, we’re seeing an earlier interest in Christmas decorations, as shoppers prepare to spend more time at home and look to create a festive feel,” she explains. Plus, with such a challenging year behind us, she shares that shoppers are looking to make this season feel a light brighter with festive decorations that bring them joy, which she’ll be doing, too.
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Khanyie Shamakumba and Daniel Sowerby, interior bloggers at @lifeatwestlands
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? “This year, like most years, we have kept our Christmas décor fairly neutral in terms of colour, explains Khanyie. Why? Well, so that if they ever decided to redecorate or change colour schemes around the house, they won’t have to worry about whether the Christmas decorations will clash.
“I absolutely love having greenery around the house, so eucalyptus and pine garlands will always be a firm base for our Christmas décor, then I’ll add some lights and other accessories to bring them to life and set a theme,” Khanyie adds. They’ll also be using pampas grass to add some character to their Christmas tree and fireplace garland.
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? Think economically and it’ll set you in good stead for years to come. “Personally, I have always gone for a faux Christmas tree and garlands, as this is a lot more economic. We re-use our decorations year after year, only needing to buy a few accessories and some replacements to achieve a new look,” she adds. Look for independent shops selling great quality faux décor. “They might seem expensive at the time, but you know that we’ll be using them for many years to come,” she adds.
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? Not particularly – Khanyie and Daniel always try to limit any single-use purchases. “We try to invest in items that we can re-use next year or throughout the year without compromising on quality,” Khanyie shares.
Dan Cooper, Waitrose and John Lewis Christmas Shop Buyer
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? Dan confesses that he goes ‘all out’ for Christmas. “I have seven Christmas trees in different rooms of the house and the way they are decorated reflects the style of each room. I won’t be changing any of my colour schemes this year, but I will be adding to them,” he explains.
How? Well, all through the year he collects things that he finds beautiful or amusing and incorporates them into his scheme. “The key thing is not to stop at the tree; I continue the same style and colour palette throughout the room so that the tree is less a punctuation mark and more part of a story. Try as I may to move on, my ‘War and Peace’ themed tree in the dining room, decorated with hand-painted baubles from Russia and Faberge inspired jewellery pieces, is still everyone’s favourite,” he shares.
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? “I ordered my real tree online from John Lewis in October, so whatever happens I will have a beautiful Fraser Fir which is my favourite tree for colour, scent, shape and longevity”, Dan explains. “When shops reopen, I’ll be shopping locally for as much as possible, especially for fresh flowers and foliage. Independent retailers really need our custom right now, and I want them to be there for years to come,” he adds
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? Yes – but in a good way. “The main change for me is that I will have a lot more time to decorate this year,” Dan explains. “I normally have to start early to get it all done. Now, that I don’t have to spend five hours on a train commuting to London daily, I will invest that time in readying the house for Christmas.” Silver linings.
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Carolyn Bailey, Homes and Gardens Director at Good Housekeeping
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? The same as most other years, being honest. “I love a timeless look when decorating my home for Christmas. Lashings of fresh foliage, a real tree, and a mix of much-loved vintage decorations that I have inherited from my mother and grandmother,” shares Carolyn. She mixes the selection of decorations she’s collected, and treats herself to a couple of new decorations each year.
“Lighting, for me, is key to a cosy Christmas home,” she adds. “I pop a string or two of fairy lights on my shelves, and add scented Christmas candles everywhere I can. They always add to the atmosphere,” she shares.
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? The first thing Carolyn does is put up a wreath on her front door, normally around 1 December. “I love to make my own if I have time,” she shares. It can be as simple as buying a foliage base from a local flower stall and adding ribbons, bundles of cinnamon, sprays of berries and dried orange slices. “It’s wonderful when it smells as good as it looks,” she explains.
On Christmas Eve, Carolyn forages for foliage in her garden – so why not give it a go yourself? “It’s surprising what you can find and it always smells so good when you bring it indoors,” she explains. Ivy, camellia leaves and holly are some of her favourites, and she also invests in a bunch of eucalyptus, pine and mistletoe if she can find them.
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? In a way. Carolyn will be shopping for new decorations online if she can’t do her annual Liberty trip this year. “One of my traditions is to visit the Liberty Christmas shop if I can,” she explains. “It always gives me heaps of inspiration and I usually find something really special there – a hand painted decoration or a glamorous Christmas cracker. This year if I can’t go in person, I’ll browse online.”
Plus, she often buys her tree from the local garden centre, but this year, she’s hoping to buy direct form a farm to help small businesses.
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James Cunningham, Deputy Homes and Interiors Editor at Good Housekeeping
What is your Christmas decorating theme this year? Twinkling lights and pretty decorations always make our homes feel magical, so it’s no surprise that so many people have started the festive season early this year, says James. “I can’t wait to unpack my tree and get cracking. This year, my eye is firmly set on the Bloomsbury range at John Lewis & Partners – inspired by the eclectic style of the artistic group, I love that the unexpected colours and shapes in the collection still look and feel classically beautiful,” he shares.
What are your top Christmas decorating tips? Shop online at John Lewis and scout the range yourself. And, as with all the tips above, embrace the mix of old and new. “I always love bringing out my box of treasured decorations and look forward to supplementing the tree with some new baubles too,” he adds.
A recent convert to faux trees, he loves the beautiful styles by Balsam Hill. “They are easy to assemble, come pre-lit (so there’s no untangling of fairy lights!) and they’re very convincing, too,” he explains. Top tip: A couple of sprays of Jo Malone London’s Pine & Eucalyptus room spray throughout the day and no-one will be any the wiser.
Will the pandemic affect how you decorate for Christmas? One thing he’ll be doing differently this year is wrapping presents in fabric, as opposed to paper. “The idea comes from the Japanese art of ‘furoshiki’, and I love the concept of the fabric being re-used after, as well as being kinder to the planet. Plus, it’ll be a lot easier than wrestling with a roll of paper, scissors and sticky tape!” he shares.
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