Sophie Conran shares her Christmas decorating ideas & entertaining tips for the festive season
Leading interior designer Sophie Conran shares her Christmas decorating ideas, entertaining tips and her thoughts on the festive trends to look out for this year.
There are so many things I love about Christmas, planning the decorations being one of them. This year we will be in the country at home. There will be about ten of us and in the run-up there will be lots of decorating, rustling of wrapping paper, sharing of tasks, cooking, getting out the best linen, napkins and glasses and all the little things that go towards making it a special day. I am particularly looking forward to doing the garland for the staircase using fresh pine (I get plain garlands from my local florist) to wrap around the bannister, adding an abundance of decorations like ribbons, pinecones, baubles and mirrored stars. I use florists wire to secure them and finish with masses of fairy lights.
I love using lots of different shades of gold. We have some fabulous gold decorations on the website including some new sequined apples and pears, gold crown candle holders and tree toppers. I love to have the tree and presents displayed in a sort of ‘scene’ on the run-up to Christmas day, so the colours used on the tree are also used for the wrapping paper. I like to have a separate ‘children’s tree’ with papier mache stars and figurines that the kids have made over the years and look fantastic displayed together. They are non-breakable and very colourful, and it just means that they get to decorate the tree the way they want without me telling them how to do it and getting in the way!
To light the Christmas table normally I would have a central garland wrapped with fairy lights. I always use battery-powered fairy lights so there are no trailing wires, they give off a lovely low twinkle in the middle of the table. I also put candle-sticks at different heights and cut-crystal or coloured glasses with tea lights in them dotted around. Metallic candlesticks, mirrored surfaces and glass bounce the light beautifully, so you get lots of little spots of light around the room. Another fantastically festive table piece is to have hurricane vases filled with decorations and candles in the centre.
Lots of Christmas fairy lights are key to decoration. When you come down on a dark Christmas morning and the house is filled with fairy lights and the smell of pine, it feels really special and gives you a feeling of child-like wonder.
My top tips for Christmas entertaining and prep is lists, lists, lists! Drop the different activities and prep needed into your diary so you have a clear idea about when everything is going to be done and so there isn’t a mad rush at the end. It can be overwhelming, so try to be realistic about what can be achieved and remember it should be pleasurable too.
Don’t try to do it alone – always work with a friend or partner. Divide up the jobs so that everyone can take ownership for something and get into the swing of it, and not all trying to do the same things or getting on top of one another.
Plan ahead with your menus. Dukes Hill are great – they are a company that deliver gorgeous hams, puddings, chocolates, cheeses and chutneys – they take the heavy lifting out of it. I normally split the shopping with Mum, and my brother will always bring something like a special side of salmon that he then carves.
Because of the shop, we are planning Christmas a year ahead. This year, we are seeing people loving crowns (perhaps because of the fabulous Royal wedding?), and we have some lovely crown tree-toppers and candle holders which are very popular. We are also seeing lots of chic, textured candles – we sell bundles of tonal coloured candles; lots of metallic together. We are seeing the use of fruit and flowers coming through, replacing the more traditional tinsel, baubles and icicles.
We have some gorgeous big blooms of gold magnolia flowers on a branch that are just magnificent and beautiful clip flowers which are really versatile and can be used on the tree, gifts, garlands, napkins or even in your hair. Our sparkly fruit gives a real sense of abundance to the Christmas table, garland or tree and has a timeless elegance.
Do a lot of shopping at sophieconran.com! We have some beautiful new sparkle glasses, Christmas napkins, crackers, wonderful tableware, masses of gorgeous Christmas decorations, stockings and ideas for decorating and gifts galore!
However you choose to enjoy your festive holidays, I hope you have the most magical, joy-filled time.