festive decorating

Home for the Holidays

With just six Big Sleeps ’til Christmas, anticipation is running high in our household. We flung open our doors last Sunday to family and friends, and this for us marked the start of the festivities (and compelled us to complete the holiday decor!).  We have a couple more days of work to get through, but the house at least is ready and adorned; today let me give you a quick tour in lieu of being able to actually invite you over for a glass of mulled wine…

Holiday house Christmas bike

Remember this delivery bike from Easter?  I’ve decked it out for Christmas, using an old fruit crate which I sprayed black, tucking in a faux Christmas tree draped in inexpensive, hardy baubles.  A simple wreath is tied to the basket frame, and I used one of these paper placemats mounted on card stock to make the welcoming holiday sign.  I wired a stock of old red lightbulbs (a car-boot sale find) and draped them over the frame, before clipping on an IKEA lantern at the back.  I bought of stash of these and have used them liberally throughout the house this year, following the Anthropologie adage that anything used in excess can look quite cool…  The bike sits outside in the lane when we’re expecting guests; rain permitting, of course.

In the hallway, an old sledge carries enticing looking parcels, which are actually old cardboard boxes wrapped in wall-lining paper and tied with ribbon.  I’ve borrowed the reindeer skin from our bathroom to add more Nordic style.  The sledge is lit by a paper tree, which I’ve hung with parcels of magic reindeer food (last year’s recipe is here), and which are given to small visitors when they leave.

Holiday House Entryway

Holiday House Reindeer Food

The Fir lady from last week is now complete and has taken up residence in a quiet corner of the kitchen, where she is shown to best advantage and unlikely to get underfoot;

Fir Lady

More parcels and lanterns add to the festive effect…

Fir Lady for Christmas

The biggest Christmas display is in our long and open hallway which runs the length of the house; I wanted something that would catch your eye as you walk in, but also look interesting as you come down the stairs, or glimpse it through the kitchen doorway.  It’s on the main thoroughfare to the bathroom, so tends to stop people in their tracks as they pause to examine the various bits and pieces….

Holiday house Christmas hallway

Let’s start at the bottom; I placed a large trunk on top of our hall table, then filled a picnic hamper with straw and tucked in two festive geese, which in previous years have been left to totter along landings at Christmas, or have perched on shelves.  They look slightly curious or alarmed, as if they know they are heading for the oven; but it also has the effect of looking a little like a hot air balloon basket, which may give them cause for hope of escape..

Christmas Geese in a Basket

On top of the case is an old wooden ladder which is usually covered in paint and dust, but for now is hung with more interesting accents and decorations.  Tucked underneath is an old typewriter, with a couple of robins perched atop it, pecking at the keys;

Festive hallway display

And a carol is typed out, for those who peer closely enough…

Christmas typewriter

Arranged on the ladder are various natural decorations like twig balls and giant seed pods, into which I’ve placed baubles as if they’ve just burst open to reveal them;

Festive montage

…and remember the book folding post?  I’ve used a couple of the books I made to add another dimension to the display;

folded decorations I

folded decorations II

More garden bits and pieces are arranged on top of a zinc pedestal which normally lives on the patio, including a driftwood wreath and wooden stars;

Garden decorations for Christmas

And further down the table, an old vegetable crate is turned on its side on a stool to create a winter forest scene, using animals from Harry’s Ark and tiny bristle trees.

Crate nativity

A wicker basket is perched atop the ladder with a small tree trimmed with battery LED lights (we click it on in the evenings), and this is the view as you head down the stairs;

Holiday scene from the stairs


It’s a constantly evolving display as items are borrowed and replaced, or others are added; but it’s quirky and makes me smile.  In other rooms we have the Christmas tree as usual, and other, more traditional decor; this is just a taste of something a little different, to ring in the changes. I hope you enjoyed it too!

I’ll be back a couple more times before Christmas with last-minute cookie gifts, printable Santa telegrams and some wrapping ideas.  It’s ho ho ho all the way now I’m afraid; there’s no place for the Grinch here…

Kate x

Festive delivery bike

A Scented Christmas

At this point in the year, you can bet that Martha will have baked her Christmas Cake, completed festive gift shopping not only for her nearest-and-dearest but also for those unexpected guests who may drop in over the holiday season. Mulled wine is probably even now gently steeping on the Stewart household stove, and the turkey is gobbling a little more anxiously than last week. No such preparations are afoot chez nous; we are tardy as ever. Only Harry is our constant reminder that Christmas is not so far away, as his anticipation builds about the arrival of ‘Farmer Christmas’ (something may have been lost in translation there, but I do like the mental picture of Santa arriving on a large muddy tractor).

The one thing I have done today is plant up some bulbs to ensure that the house is full of festive colour and the intoxicating smells of winter hyacinth and paperwhites….

I love the process of choosing the bulbs; visiting the garden centre and filling a large brown paper bag with handfuls of these rustling bundles of promise.  This year I’ve chosen hyacinths of shades of delft blue and rich purples, which I’ll combine with white, silver and wood tones when decorating at home.  I’ve planted some in glass forcing jars so that Harry and I can watch the roots reaching out for the water and see the process of growth and flowering happen at close hand.

We carefully carried these into the dark coolness of the garage where they’ll sit for a few weeks until the tips are about 1.5 inches long, when we’ll bring them inside to flourish and scent the hallway.

Paperwhites exude a more subtle scent and love company, so I added a handful of these to a simple tin basin, tips just above the soil, before consigning them to the dark alongside the hyacinths.  We filled just about every available container with bulbs; they’re so cheap and plentiful, and their beauty distracts from the fact that they’re housed in old tin cans, mugs, mismatched flowerpots and jars (and besides, this was just never going to be a home where stuff matches, let’s agree..).

When we take to the woods this weekend on our usual expedition to hunt for bears (we more often find the ice cream van and the swings, but Harry remains hopeful), we will also be spotting places for the best mistletoe and holly berries, so that in the midst of one cold December morning we can nip out and gather some for our Christmas table.  This may be both the beginning and end of my Christmas preparations for now, but at least we’re off the starting blocks…