Bringing greenery into our homes to mark the winter solstice has been going long before Christmas was even a thing. Ancient Druids cut mistletoe and gave it as a blessing, while holly was believed to be sacred due to its seemingly magical evergreen abilities, promising protection and prosperity to those who decorated their homes with it. We say let’s keep this tradition going strong, along with the feasting and gift-giving, but maybe let’s forego the sacrificial offerings that went alongside...
Here at Grace & Thorn, we tend to live by the motto, go big or go home, but when it comes to festive decoration, you can do both! Home is our favourite place, and at this time of year it's even more important to make it a place you want to be, since you'll be spending a lot of time there. Thankfully, you don't have to spend a lot of money on shiny garlands because, as will come as no surprise, we believe in decking those halls (and tables and doorways and mantelpieces) with holly, ivy and a whole lot more of the green stuff.
We’re not one for sticking to rules, so let’s call these subtle suggestions for how to #greenupyourgaff Christmas-style.
What to use?
– There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping to the classics, especially if you can source them from your garden (extra eco points), but for more of a luxe feel – with added scent and great contrasting visual textures – we like to include a mix of mountain pine, blue spruce, olive, bay and eucalyptus.
– Make sure your foliage isn’t wet. As it’s still alive, it will inevitably give off some moisture over the days or weeks you have it in place, so make sure it’s not resting on your finest antique tablecloth or draped over an heirloom painting.
How do you do it?
Attach your main foliage (usually a mix of pine) to some base rope with florist’s wire and then use more florist’s wire to help secure any extras.
The festive table
– Use a base rope of pine or other evergreens and arrange it down the middle of your table. Don’t make it too wide as you need to leave space for that extra bowl of roasties. Then work in some dried oranges, rosehip and pine cones or whatever catches your eye, and attach using florist’s wire.
– Light a few candles to place in amongst the greenery – use candlesticks to keep the candles raised and avoid any accidental table fires.
– Tie together a few small sprigs of berries or rosehip and some greenery, and put on top of each place setting – you can even attach a name card with ribbon if you’re feeling fancy.
– For extra theatre and height, add a vase of festive foliage. Keep vases tall so you can make eye contact with your fellow diners underneath the display.
– Go with a garland by creating a base rope of pine (a mix of different types gives extra texture) - and twist it around the banister from top to bottom. Then attach your chosen extras. Work in layers, building contrasting textures and colours all the way down.
– Dried flowers look really dramatic and luxe here – think deep purple hydrangea, dried white bougainvillea and rosehip.
– For that unmistakeable Christmassy scent that will fill the hallways upstairs and down, get some dried oranges, cinnamon sticks and pine cones involved.
– If you can’t resist a bit of sparkle, we’re not against the odd bauble. Group them together and stick to gold, dark reds, greens and blues – a flourish of ribbon can finish the look.
Why stop at the banisters and dining table? Drape evergreens around doorframes and attach dried flowers, dried oranges, pine cones, baubles and ribbons, and go big with your mantelpiece – dramatic swathes of pine will fill your front room with Christmassy scent, even if you pass on the tree this year.
Public health announcement
Some evergreens are poisonous – ivy, for example, is mildly toxic to children, adults and pets, so maybe avoid this at the dinner table if there are grabby hands around or if it’s likely to be swiped on the way up the stairs. Same goes for eucalyptus and holly berries. If in any doubt, do your research first.