It's only just November but the stores of the UAE are crammed full of Christmas paraphernalia. And some people take things very seriously when it comes to decorating the house for the festive season. American interior decorator Rima Dardenne is one of them. The founder of Irony Home, a high-end home furniture, accessories and lighting store, Dardenne held a Christmas decorating workshop at Dubai Mall to give people tips on how to make their Christmas tree a dazzling delight.

Time to celebrate

"There are a lot of foreigners in Dubai, so they need an outlet to enjoy their festive season," said Dardenne, who has put together festive ensembles at hotels such as Burj Al Arab, Atlantis and Shangri-La, among others. She opened her first Irony Home store in 2003 at the Village Mall, Jumeirah.

Although she likes the traditional look for Christmas, with green, red and gold colours, she said the trend this year is ice blue, brown and white stripes. "I like a tree to be abundant and mixed. Even if it is mainly green and red, I'll put a pink hippo on it," she said.

The tree is the essential piece of Christmas decoration, believes the designer. "Don't do too much. A tree alone is enough to make your house look spectacular. The lights are key to making it a success. Ideally, you need about 100 lights per vertical foot of tree."

After the lights come the garlands, ribbons and ornaments. "Garlands are great fillers. If you're using an artificial tree, I would rather see it covered with ornaments," said Dardenne, before giving a demonstration on how to perfectly position golden, leafy garlands by bending them in and around the branches. I'm glad it's still November, I need time to practise.

  • First put the lights on the tree, preferably faceted glass bulbs, and illuminate it from the inside out, stringing the lights around the trunk and the branches from the base of the trunk and working up. Wrap the lights around major branch, moving from trunk to tip and back.
  • Place the garlands, mixing plain and fancy ones to avoid overdoing the tree. Start at the top of the tree, stringing fewer garlands there, and work your way down, using more garlands as you go. Thin bead garlands look best strung from branch to branch while thick paper, ribbon or foil garlands look better loosely wrapped.
  • If you place large ribbons on the tree, you may skip garlands. Start wrapping ribbons from the top and bend them in and out of the branches, stapling them on.
  • Break out the ornaments, using a variety of colours and shapes, from round balls and teardrops to trains and nutcrackers. Don't clump similar colours together. Layer the tree with ornaments of various sizes. Create depth by hanging some closer to the trunk and others from boughs.
  • There should be 40 ornaments per foot of tree (280 ornaments for a 7-foot tree).
  • Place two strands of garland for every vertical foot of tree.
  • Decorate the treetop with an angel, a star or a fairy, hung straight with a wire.