We moved into our new house on 18th December, and on the 22nd, the Christmas tree went up. I was determined that no matter what state the rest of the house was in, we’d have a tree and a wreath on the door in time for Christmas.
Unpacking the Christmas decorations always reminds me of past trees, which have always been of their era – our family tree in the ’80s was dominated by hand-made decorations, tinsel, and yards of silver lametta which we threw at the tree until it almost seemed to be drowning in it.
This was replaced in the ’90s by a power struggle between my mum, who favoured natural decorations (mainly from Habitat) of the wicker and pine cone variety, and I, who leaned heavily towards Victorian kitsch with gold cherubs and red ribbons.
At the turn of the century, when I had my own tree for the first time, the decorations were, erm, millennial in style – silver was dominant, with accents of pink and purple, and all from Paperchase. Lots of tiny mirrorballs and glass baubles which I won’t part with even though they are eminently not child-friendly.
By the mid-Noughties, glamorous mirrorballs seemed a bit tawdry in light of the recession, and I yearned for something more traditional and cosy. So my current theme is (I’d like to think) a cross between childhood Christmas (rocking horses, gingerbread men, snowmen) and Scandi style (heart motifs and red felt). Perhaps the kind of tree Sarah Lund would put up, if she did Christmas trees, though I’m sure she wouldn’t.
The second stage of dressing the house for Christmas was the wreath. I usually put up a conventional holly wreath, and in my heart, holly is always my favourite Christmas plant, with its connections to pre-Christian Yuletide rituals (as described in one of my most loved childhood books, The Dark is Rising).
However, holly wreaths do tend to dry out and droop rather sadly by Twelfth Night, so this year I decided I wanted to do something hand-made – and as I got to know my new neighbourhood, I noticed there seem to be lots of styles of wreaths these days.
This was a prime opportunity for some snooping, and I do believe there is a study to be done on class and social status based on peoples’ choice of Christmas wreaths, but I’m not about the judging, I’m just about the nosing around and taking pictures of things I like, so I’ll leave the Marxist analysis to others.
Photos have been cropped to conceal house numbers, so apologies for the rather poor quality in some cases!
I liked this one for its simplicity, two-tone colour scheme, and the attractive spiral shape. This would work as a door decoration at any time of year, really, not just Christmas.
This one is about as far in the opposite direction as possible – positively lavish. This is probably the least to my taste of all the wreaths here, but thought I’d include it for reasons of balance and fairness, cos I’m nice like that.
This one is far more my kind of thing – I couldn’t get too close but I think in amongst the pine cones were Scotch Bonnet chillis, which is very cool indeed. Also a well-chosen colour scheme to contrast pleasingly with the smoky blue front door.
Possibly my favourite of the lot – so simple, so beautiful, with the silver of the main wreath so striking against the textured glass, and the bright pink hanging thread leaps out at you too. People from the neighbouring street, I salute your very good taste.
Another very simple wreath – this one looking like it could have been woven by hand with a few things picked from the hedgerow, rather than bought at great expense from some garden centre. I also like the low-hanging wreath style, which can look very eye-catching provided you don’t prevent the postman from reaching the letterbox.
This wreath veers towards the lavish, but I do like this one – the colour scheme is so well-controlled, and I like the mixture of natural textures, with baubles adding a touch of glitz. And the bright turquoise baubles exactly matching the colour of the door is a master stroke.
A one-colour wicker wreath – very chic. This one looks as if it ought to be on a seaside chalet, rather than south-east London, but it still looked very good where it was, if slightly austere for my tastes.
Finally, the wreath on our front door. In retrospect, I rather overdid it, (especially putting the tiny stocking in the middle), but as I’d decided to make my own this year, I rather excitedly threw everything I had at it!
I bought a plain wreath from eBay, and added ribbons and cinnamon sticks from my latest Crafty Creatives box (which I will have to blog more about soon), and the pine cones and other bits (from a bag of pot pourri!) were charity shop finds.
The wreath was smaller than I expected, so next year I could take everything off and re-use it on a larger wreath, perhaps with some greenery woven in too. I like the fact I can restyle the wreath, and make it more or less complicated as I please – and of course continue to observe what my neighbours are doing and lift a few ideas along the way.
1st January 2013 has been the first sunny day for weeks and a chance to finally do some work outside – hopefully I’ll have some progress reports from the new garden to blog about soon, but in the mean time, a very Happy New Year!