Christmas decoration ideas from Buckinghamshire experts
PUBLISHED: 12:15 10 December 2015 | UPDATED: 10:41 21 January 2016
Copyright © 2010 Mick Ryan
Decorations gathered from our woodlands and the perfect table setting: Sandra Smith has met the local experts to discover the trends this season
The most magical time of year is almost upon us. As a heady scent of pine triggers familiar memories, festive garlands, nativity scenes and advent calendars vie for space in rooms adorned with colourful decorations.
Seasonal trimmings may be in place, however there are still menus to plan and dishes to prepare. Indeed, since dining plays such a mouth-watering role during Noel, why not enhance your entertaining by introducing the wow factor to your table? Whether you opt for traditional tones or favour a more contemporary flair, we’ve talked to a number of experts who here share their advice on simple but stylish twists for stunning dining table décor.
“If you’re doing a big family Christmas dinner, a centre piece is key,” advises professional Christmas designer, Clark Bearman, based in Chinnor. “But think outside the box, such as a selection of smaller pieces or a low, long piece rather than a tall vase. You could even collect holly and ivy from local woods and add battery fairy lights and snow spray.”
Clark, who has a passion for all things festive, dries his own fruit to use in arrangements: “Dried orange is a timeless classic but try lime and apple dipped in cinnamon, too. The smell will be incredible for days. Pine cones are also a winner, in a festive bowl topped with dried berries and ribbon.”
His idea of foraging in woods then crafting individual displays over mince pies and hot chocolate is a perfect family pastime guaranteed to get everyone in the Christmas spirit on a winter’s afternoon. And to complement this rustic approach, he has further ideas.
“Festive runners in all shapes, colours and sizes can be sourced at High Street stores along with matching napkins and placements. Red and gold are always in at Christmas but I’d be more tempted to add a touch of luxury and use Oxblood red and Satin gold. And if you don’t want to spend a fortune on festive dinner places, use a plain white set.”
White candles are Clark’s choice, standing them in a clear vase with coloured baubles in the bottom to create a vivid focus.
“Christmas is a hectic time of year so keeping it simple and personal to you is the key,” he insists. “After all, the most important thing is the company - your family and friends - so create a warm, welcoming and comfortable environment.”
Independent shops across the county are currently a haven for festive fayre. Scented St Eval candles are stocked at Big Sky’s Great Missenden High Street premises, Prestwood’s Hildreths is overflowing with jolly table paraphernalia and at Tiger Lily Florist in Gerrards Cross tutored workshops (16, 17 or 18 December) will guide you to design and make your own unique table feature. All decorations are provided and each session begins with a demonstration and includes wine and homemade cakes.
One of this year’s items currently on trend and available at Home Barn in Little Marlow are candle holders with copper interiors, though for an unusual twist vintage antlers may be converted into candelabra. This reputable retailer suggests a maximum of two dining table colours such as white and red with touches of foliage or foraged items from winter country walks. A hint of gold or copper, they suggest, adds a sense of opulence.
Interior design company, Cranberry Home, is also keen to reveal their festive ideas. “Traditionally Christmas colours are red, green, white and silver,” says Junior Designer Aurelija Maisenaite. “But be brave and try this year’s emerging trends such as the more sophisticated black, gold and copper. Pair luxurious black with warm metallic, matt tones or highlight with a combination of black and glitter detail to create a sparkling look.”
Tempting as it is to purchase new pieces, Aurelija stresses this isn’t a necessity.
“From around the home use quirky and interesting objects you already have such as decorative vases, fresh seasonal foliage and bowls of sweets or fresh fruit.”
Candles are a timeless embellishment to any table, but Cranberry Home’s recommendation is to cluster three or five in different sizes and colours. In addition add interest by tying napkins in contrastingly coloured ribbon or string and a simple centrepiece of seasonal flowers in an arrangement which includes fir cones, bay leaves and nuts is sure to be eye catching.
You can’t go wrong, she continues, by following these rules.
“To create a centrepiece scale it to match your table size; ensure it is attractive from all angles and in proportion to the number of place settings; the overall height should be above or below eye level making conversation with your opposite dinner guest less awkward; for an interesting look mix shapes, textures and objects.”
Although recognising the versatility of white candles, this Milton Keynes based company advocates red to generate warmth, boldness and tradition or red napkins coupled with white linen for pristine cleanliness. Indeed, keeping china and table cloth neutral can be balanced by vibrantly colourful accessories. And your table set can be personalised by creating your own name tags.
For those favouring a rustic approach, however, why not try Cranberry Home’s advice and omit the table cloth, thereby allowing an old table to be the centre of attention? And embrace different time periods for an eclectic aura by fusing traditional crockery with modern glassware or antique candle holders.
One of the most iconic and traditional accessories on any Christmas table, the superficial appeal of crackers is sometimes marred by disappointment of their contents. Hugo Fleming of Cranberry Home, however, recommends a bespoke alternative.
“Small personalised gifts such as handmade sweets are so much better than cheap crackers.”
Whatever style you prefer and whether you’re tempted to invest in new decorations, reinvent old ones or create your own, a little planning and experimentation will ensure this year’s dining table décor reflects the magic of yuletide. But just in case you need any further inspiration, try following Clark Bearman’s Christmas code:
“Buckinghamshire is a truly beautiful place to live and I cherish helping to make it sparkle.”