It’s that time of year. The magical ‘C’ word has reared its glitter clad head and you are either in the ‘stressed out’ or the ‘excited’ camp.
I have to get it out there - I love Christmas. The lights, the sparkle, the hype. I love it all. Carols by candlelight at my Church in Stamford, family get togethers, long winter walks with friends– there are always too many stiles and too many dogs!
A few years ago Mr H and I owned a beautiful 10 acre, Victorian Walled Garden which had been converted in to a Garden Centre. Christmas was a big deal and in our first year I decorated 31 trees! It was a mammoth task and I was ably supported by a team of dedicated staff but I much prefer the intimacy of decorating at home.
Last year 25 Beautiful Homes came to photograph the house for the 2017 Christmas edition. It’s out now! It was one of those cold, frosty mornings when winter really has taken root and you want to hunker down with a mulled wine and a mince pie (gluten free for me!). My beautiful friend Rachel ‘the Photographer’ arrived and the house was thrown into its Christmas splendour. Her photos belie the effort which went into putting everything together but capture the essence of Christmas in the Hutchinson household!
I’ve been replacing all my old Christmas lights for LEDs over the past few years which means no more fiddling with tiny bulbs which spark into life, only to blow the minute you walk away leaving you to start the whole palaver again. I love to buy the strings of LEDs designed for both indoor and outdoor use so I don’t even need to decide what I’m going to use them for before I start. Perfect.
I have a quirky rule, don’t ask me where it came from but it works so I stick to it.
Bring your lights in from the garage or shed the night before you’re going to switch them on so they are at room temperature the first time you use them.
Sounds odd I know but why not, none of us like being moved from one extreme temperature to another in a hurry and lights (in my mind at least) appear to be the same! (If you’re reading this and are an electrician or quantum physicist and want to enlighten me, feel free). I also always check they’re working before I start to put them on the tree! There’s nothing worse than getting them all set out in identical lines and then switching the plug to find they’ve all given up on you.
I have a few spaces which I love to decorate but where space is too tight for a tree. I’d go with it, breathe in and walk sideways every time I passed but the rest of the household are less keen to accommodate me on this one so a branch is usually my solution. I’ve had my eye on a fallen tree sitting on the grass verge for a couple of weeks and even stopped to measure a branch up last week. I now just need to get the pruning saw into the car and wait for the rain to stop so I can extricate it from the rest of the tree, get it in the boot and homeward bound!
Last year I went with a sprayed branch and lights with lots of silver and glass baubles but this year I’m going au natural! I’ve been collecting a few woodland novelties, owls, mushrooms and birds to decorate it. At one point I was sorely tempted to remove a pigeon’s nest (she wasn’t using it) from the hornbeam hedge as I trimmed it in the Autumn but decided against it when I realised how badly made it was. It was quite literally hanging together with a wing and a prayer (sorry about the pun). I don’t know how any of the chicks survived but they did. Seems pigeons are less house proud then me!
I love to decorate with white and greys for walls but my kitchen has some strong colours in the furnishings as I fell in love with a Robert Allen fabric at The Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour when I was still working as an Interior Designer and ordered it on impulse. I still love it today so I’m using it as the theme for my decorations and going with an aqua, teal and silver theme. It will be all out there, not at all subtle like my au natural branch in the hall, but
the kitchen is where we spend most of our days so a bit of glitz is in order. And if you can’t be glitzy at Christmas then when can you be!
Wherever you are, and whatever you are up to this festive season, may I wish you a Happy and Healthy Holiday and much success in 2017.
Love and Blessings