It’s Christmas again. Every year the same decorations? Not this time. Leave the old ornament box in the attic and let’s try something different.
There’s no need to compromise on colour, texture or style. Discover how to prepare your house for the festive season with simple Christmas decorations.
Transparency notice: Amara has kindly provided some Christmas decorations for this blog post. All gifted items are marked with an asterisk (*). You can read the full ad disclaimer.
Why do we decorate the house for Christmas?
The tradition to put up special decorations around Christmas time is older than you may expect. According to Wikipedia, houses in London were decked with evergreens back in the 15th Century. They used ivy, holly, bay and anything green. Holly was particularly necessary as it also provided protection against witches — quite a bonus!
The Christmas tree probably originated as an ancient pagan tradition that worshipped evergreen trees. I find it fascinating that we still do something similar today. After all, the word druid comes from the Celtic term for oak. This is one of the reasons I have a real tree.
STYLE TIP: Keep your potted Christmas tree happy in 3 simple steps: place it away from radiators, leave it indoors only a week and repot every year as necessary.
But what are the true colours of Christmas?
Nowadays, there’s a wide range of colours we associate with this festive season. For example, blue, white and silver symbolise winter. But the original colours are green (eternal life) and red (blood). Powerful meanings if you think about it.
A personal obsession
As a child, I took Christmas decorations seriously. From the earliest date you could put them up to the overall theme of the tree. And I say theme because every year I used to say to my Mum: “this year is all about silver”, “gold and red baubles, Mum, gold and red”. Plus the usual “let’s buy the extra-long garland just in case” and “these lights flash way too quickly”.
And from one extreme to the other. A few years ago my only decoration in December was a scented candle. Not even a posh one. Think AmbiPur instead of Diptyque. There has to be a balance point between over-the-top Christmas and that’s-just-sad Christmas. Don’t you think? That’s what I aim to do.
Bling-free simple Christmas decorations
This year I let go perfection. No huge and symmetrically perfect tree. No shiny elaborate ornaments. And no glitter. Because once you touch glitter you have to live with it forever. Instead, let’s embrace the original colours of Christmas and deck the halls with evergreens — the simple way.
Fireplace decoration with woodland botanicals and paper ornaments
As there is no artwork or mirror above the fireplace I went all asymmetrical. There are two vignettes on either side of the fireplace mantle. The main piece is a transparent vase with three winterberry (Ilex Verticillata) branches. Sculptural and low maintenance. They should last for a few weeks in water.
Next to the vase, I’ve arranged four paper ornaments from Nkuku*. All designs are unique and can be stored flat. They have a handy built-in magnet to keep them open. If you look closely, you can see there’s writing on the paper. After a bit of research, it turns out they’re extracts from Measure for Measure. A play by William Shakespeare.
On the other end of the mantle, I’ve placed three awesome Christmas cards from Home By Kirsty. Forget the typical cheesy festive images. Kirsty always stocks the coolest cards, gifts and accessories. And to add contrast nothing better than a cheesy festive snow globe! This one is special though. Purchased in a shop in Bath called December 25th where every day is Christmas.
To tie everything up, I used soft eucalyptus branches of the Silver Dollar variety. It may not be Baby Blue (Instagram’s favourite). But the silvery green leaves contrast against the bright red berries and the snow globe. The only downside of this variety is the almost lack of scent.
Simple coffee table styling with monochrome accessories
I wanted to keep the coffee table as plain as possible. It’s used to place drinks and books. So the last thing you want is an edge-to-edge Nativity scene. I opted for a single monochrome decoration. Supported by candles for warmth and greenery to add a pinch of much needed “eternal life”.
The focal piece is the black tree ornament from Scandinavian brand Be & Liv*. Part decoration, part placement mat. Designed by Janne Uusi-Autti “to combine two Christmas traditions: sharing treats and decorating”. As hygge as this sounds, I will not use it as a mat (at least this year). You can display it upright or flat, like Jenny from Seasons in Colour did in this flat lay.
And the candles?
As much as I like Christmas Eve by Yankee Candle, it makes my eyes water after a while. Does it happen to you too? It’s also important not to overdo it with multiple scented candles. You just need a carefully picked one. I went for Black Pomegranate by Flower Lodge. A natural candle with a soothing scent. You can add a few tea lights for extra glow.
A little Christmas tree with colourful handmade ornaments
Your tree will never be bigger than the one in the shopping centre. Why not go small and enjoy the perks of a real miniature Christmas tree? Easy to move, inexpensive to decorate and can be placed in any corner. I bought my tree last year, and it has lived happily in the garden since. I call it Peter Pine.
There’s one inconvenience. Due to the size of the tree, the branches can’t sustain much weight. This rules out 95% of the conventional decorations. Luckily, I found a selection of colourful handmade ornaments. The multicolour pom pom garland from Cody Foster & Co* has the ideal scale and length. The small yarn pom poms are full of colour and texture and make the tree look (slightly) bigger.
Even though colour is great, a tiny tree needs something else to stand out. Enter Amica’s collection of wool felt ornaments. I went overboard and chose the cute mini robins*, Christmas puddings* and sheep with hats*. There are over twenty designs in the collection including corgis, cats and donkeys. So many ornaments, too little tree.
Staring into your soul is the hand-carved wood owl ornament from Mifuko. This Fair Trade decoration has a label with the name of the artisan who carved it — David in this case. I bought it from one of Know & Love’s pop-up shops in London. The owner, Karen Sims, has an exquisite eye for unique artisans and creators.
Finally, forget about the wonky star. This tree is topped with a heart-shaped ceramic ornament with a simple thistle motif. It’s from Jacqui Seller Ceramics in Scotland.
What’s your ideal Christmas decor style?
Multicolour or monochrome? Bold or minimal? Fake tree or a real one? The great thing about seasonal decorations is that next year you can go for something different. Let me know what you’re doing this year in the comments below.Want more? Don't miss the subscriber-only articles in the newsletter Join the mailing list