Friday, December 14, 2012

6 simple tips for the perfect Christmas home

Christmas is a wonderfully doubled-edged sword. On one hand, you have the feel good version of Christmas which exists in our collective consciousness. This is the Christmas of our childhoods, the one with the magic, and the fluffy white snow, and the one that exists in the more traditional Christmas films. It's the Christmas of Dean Martin and Eartha Kitt and ice-skating in Central Park.

On the other hand, we have the stressful Christmas period, which turns everyone over 17 into grinches. This is a Christmas that exists in reality for far more people; the stress of using lunch breaks to finish your gift shopping, the stress of fitting 12 potentially drunk family members into your tiny dining room, and even worse, having to cook for this mass of relations. It's the stress that families encounter because not only is it Christmas, but it's the end of the school year and university semester and New Years is looming around the corner. Feeling stressed yet? I sure am.

But in our homes we don't want that stress to show through; most people take pride in their homes looking their best for guests and visitors, but especially at Christmas time. When hosting Christmas day for your family and friends, you want to ensure you can create the perfect setting with your home.

Here are a few simple tips on how to prepare your home for Christmas day:

  1. Don't buy all new decorations every year. Yes, the displays in the homewares stores can be especially seductive, seeing the way everything is made for each other and the way the entire collection works. But this looks beautiful in a store; to invest in the entire story (such as a scandinavian themed Christmas collection, or a sparkly girly themed one) would be madness (and very expensive). Homewares look so different in the home compared to the immaculate shop fronts. The beauty is in the sheer mix of years of different Christmases, including the old-fashioned baubles you inherited from your grandmother, and the children's first decorations. 
  2. Tinsel can be an acquired taste. In Australia with our hot Christmases and lack of snow, tinsel can look a bit too fluffy and severe (and a bit kitschy at times). It can be used well sparingly, like along the top of the mantle, or one dainty pretty silver tinsel on the tree. Replace the big old fluffy tree tinsel with garlands - it can make your tree look a little more individual and interesting.
  3. Organise extra seating and tables ahead of time. With some houses expecting far more relatives than there are chairs at the dining room table, it can be tough to accommodate and keep your home looking neat. Chair covers can make your home look like a function centre, but a light Christmas deco on the back of each chair, such as some gold and silver ribbons, can achieve a better streamlined look. Organise larger tablecloths to throw over the dining table to hide the extra tables at each end. And while it's old fashioned, a kids table can be very handy - as long as you give them something special there too and keep them involved in the celebrations.
  4. Get any big jobs for the home done during the week before Christmas. You don't want to get to 23rd December and realise you should have had the carpet cleaned or the curtains steamed. 
  5. Figure out the music playlist ahead of time, and include minimal Christmas carols. By the time Christmas day rolls around, everyone is sick to death of Christmas carols due to shopping centres playing them since September. So create a playlist of music that will provide a nice background and will please all family members of all ages (our family's standard Christmas album is Dean Martin's greatest hits. They're not carols but they have a charming sensibility that suits Christmas day).
  6. It isn't necessary to have a traditional Christmas. There's many fun and relaxing ways to enjoy Christmas lunch without it destroying your home and your wits. Suggest having a Christmas picnic, with every family member bringing a dish and a rug. Be inventive - have a pool party, or make completely non-traditional Christmas food, like a curry or yum cha. Keep it fresh (but maybe make a small amount of hot lunch to please the oldies)

All in all, remember that it's important to have your home looking beautiful and neat, not perfect and spotless; it needs a welcoming comfortable air rather than a sterile one. And Christmas is about enjoying the day with your family and friends, and if that happens, then the day is a success, whether the curtains have been steamed or not.






PS. Use our Pinterest page to see the prettiest and most interesting Christmas decorations


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