Hype your holiday

Styled correctly, the cottage should be a wonderful place to gather during the holiday season.

by Colin and Justin

Styled correctly, the cottage, during the holiday period, should be a wonderful place to gather, safe from the climatic vagaries of harsh, blowing gales and drastically dipping temperatures. But, as is the case in any home (or indeed home from home), decorative layers should be assembled carefully to avoid setting a clunky aesthetic that overwhelms everything else.

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Festive primer

• Stores are currently awash with a wonderful inventory of festive decorations, which (chosen carefully) can be used to problem solve your room. If your space feels a little – dare we say – bland, layer in dramatic blues, rustic elements and brass notes to warm things up. If your starting point is dark and heavy, lighten proceedings with sparkly finishes, cool pewters and natural accessories. The holiday range at Chapters Indigo is sublime, so head on in for further inspiration.

• When dressing your tree, arrange lights first, then push baubles deep within branches (not just on your tree’s outer edges) to create a fully layered result.

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• Amplify a simple glass vase by placing it within a larger similarly shaped clear vessel and fill with textural pinecones to increase the drama quotient.

• As is often the case, less is more, so spend time – and money – on a well-dressed tree or an assembly of tasteful accessories to enhance, rather than compete with, your existing decor. Marshalls has some great inventory, so pop in to be further inspired.

• Fireplaces are typically a strong focal point, so ensure yours looks stunning with rustic garlands and candles. Consider (to complement existing decor) verdant branches and Christmas cacti, or inject a spot of gloss with shiny metal accessories.

• Embellish your front door with a festive wreath to proffer a warm welcome and ask your florist for off cuts to decorate shelves and other surfaces like credenzas or sideboards.

• Choose colours and forms that compliment your year-round schematics. If vintage modern is your go to, select accessories that share a similar vibe.

• Know your audience – stock a full selection of candies, chips, cookies and cakes (with options for every taste and demographic) so that casual callers have something upon which to graze when they pop in unexpectedly. And hey: keep that booze cart well stocked!

H&M Home, www2.hm.com

Lunch (or dinner) is served

• Charger plates, toned to compliment other table dressing, will bolster your tablescape and amplify your gastronomic presentation. Silver chargers will make a white dressed table pop, whilst bold green chargers will add substance to a dining vignette composed of natural tones.

• Employ store-bought gift tags, wound around stemware, as place markers for each guest.

• Stores are currently laden with stunning candlesticks. HomeSense has a great selection at affordable price points. But don’t simply position a candelabra and hope for the best: build the drama with lots of tiny tea lights, artistically clustered below. Or try storm lamps for a change of mood – these look wonderful arranged down a table centre.

• Use metallic finishes on runners and napery. These will pick up on the glow created by a candle centrepiece and provide sparkle across the entire surface.

• Arrange gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins across your table for delicious added sparkle: a great way to persuade the kids to behave on the promise of a post-prandial “hoover up.”

• Centrepieces are great news. Opt for a jewel-toned glass bowl with floating candles and flower petals to bring a romantic touch, or place small poinsettias along the centre of the table to command decorative attention.

• Give each adult guest their own chilled miniature champagne bottle as an aperitif at the table – pop in a metallic toned straw for extra fun.

• Pop lottery scratch cards under diners’ plates. While this fun exercise might make someone rich, take a tip: agree on a winnings split before cards are scratched!

Be indulgent

Whatever you plan doing over the holiday period, ensure your cottage scheme is suitably indulgent so your backdrop to merriment is as joyous as possible. Come on: it’s the time of goodwill (to all people) and now, perhaps more than ever before (courtesy of the last 20 months), we need to feel centred, focussed and relaxed. Aye, decorative decompression starts right here, right now!

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