Tradition and continuity, these values are never more omnipresent as they are around Christmas. And rightly so; the fuzzy blanket of familiarity and the invisible demands of family — honouring customs and sharing them with the next generation — make us almost duty-bound to celebrate the occasion in a manner closest to how our parents would.
There is nothing wrong with that, but given as we are in Dubai, why not try an approach that also acknowledges the modern spirit of the city? These subtle twists promise to make your festive season more exciting, take the stress off festive decor and quite frankly, help you not miss the snow all that much.
A big trend towards festive decor, and more importantly, in everyday living is to be closer to nature. When it comes to Christmas styling, we can go as wild, or restrained as we like.
INTO THE WILD
For a no-holds-barred approach, you will need to shop. You will need — some plastic, florist’s foam and moss — all easily available at your local garden centre or florist. Then a quick trip to Ikea for their beautiful bell jars and festive decor.
Lay the plastic sheet as protection on the surface you want to create your installation – it works well as a table runner, as well as a focal point in a corner. Wet the foam and lay it on top of the plastic, creating adulations to mimic nature. Layer it will moss. Plant faux Xmas trees into the moss, accessorise with tapering candles, baubles and bell jars filled with Christmassy goodness or battery operated fairy lights.
For a restrained version, keep the composition slender, and opt for more grown up accessories. Gilded pinecones, metallic vases with sculptural confiner stems and paper ornaments suspended above. The installation is still whimsical, still magical and very sophisticated.
COLOURS OF CHRISTMAS
Red, green and gold are Christmas classics, so why mess with them? Instead, how about we try an updated approach to these festive staples?
Instead of baubles, invest in red tableware. From plates and goblets to ice buckets and bowls, ruby red is the colour du jour. My favourites are the red cut-glass collection from Zara Home. They instantly add decadence and drama to any table.
A green Christmas tree is sometimes just not enough. How about you be a bit daring and paint as accent wall a festive shade of conifer? Choosing a deeper hue would mean your tree blends with the wall, which I feel is a great idea, but you must make sure it is bedecked in ornaments and lights all around. You can always play it safe with a lighter shade of green – think sea foam hues – so that your tree stands apart.
It is safe to say that metallic ornaments still rule. This year though, the shine is duller, more matt. Vintage is in, so bring out your family heirlooms, or add to them with Georg Jenson’s brilliant collection of collectible ornaments. Make sure your fairy lights are warm – I never understood the point of flat white lighting at Christmas and if you can avoid one thing this season, it is the upside-down tree.
DECK THE TABLE
Over the years, I have made my own festive traditions and somehow Nigella Lawson is intertwined in them. You are right, this is decor piece, but allow me to explain. First, I watch her Christmas specials religiously — I love the glittering, magical sets. Second, quite a few dishes of hers make it to my table, and I live by her mantra everyday — ‘Never knowingly under cater’. Third, is her concept of the ‘welcome table’. A stunning spread of food, laid out brilliantly that instantly makes people feel welcome.
Much as company and conversation are the real food of a get together, I never miss an occasion to create a table scape. There are a few ingredients to this, and much as some of my experiments have been over the top (I have been guilty of suspending half a Christmas tree above the dinner table) most of it is easy to create.
You will need a tablecloth, because all good restaurants have one. From pristine white to red or moody blue, this season they all work brilliantly. They will also guide your choice of tableware and decor. For a white tablecloth white, gold and silver are best. For deeper hues, you can experiment with teal, seafoam and matte gold.
A huge trend this year is the statement plate. Be it a side plate that is slightly (and purposely) uneven, to an amoeboid forms and shaped inspired by majestic tropical flora, mix and match, till your find your own balance of function and beauty on the table.
A mix of tea lights in cut-glass votives, tapered candles in golden candelabras and an entanglement of battery-operated LED (on metallic wire so you don’t seen the mess) will make any occasion worth of having Ms Lawson at the table.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Festivities are for all to share, and weather you are Christian or not, weather you love Christmas or it is your idea of hell, just remember, it is the end of 2018. A festive spirit and positive energy will go a long way as you start the New Year. Which is where these ‘island’ décor ideas come handy.
Take an assortment of festive baubles — here I go for a varied mix of forms, colours and sizes — and place them in beautiful tray. Set the tray on the table. It is as simple. For a more sculptural statement, get an array of clear glass vases, fill them with conifer stems and anoint with LED fairy lights.