Please try to remain calm, because something possibly troubling is about to happen. Stylist Tiffany Grant-Riley, of Curate and Display, says it is possible to make your place look fully festive without a Christmas tree.
We know. We know. Sounds sacrilegious, but with more and more of us living in relatively small spaces a tree can be impractical. It’s no good having a lovely big tree if it means you can’t get into the room.
I like to bring in lots of greenery, like eucalyptus, olive and fir tree. Fragrance is really important
Grant-Riley has plenty of tips on how to make it feel like Christmas even in a room only just big enough to swing a stocking. “The tree is what we think of as the quintessential part of Christmas,” says Grant-Riley, “But the feeling of Christmas comes across in the materials you use and by creating a sense of warmth and cosiness.” She recommends using lots of outdoor materials. “I like to bring in lots of greenery, like eucalyptus, olive and fir tree. These strongly scented plants will give you a lot of the feel you get from a Christmas tree. I also like to use oranges and cloves for their scent. Fragrance is really important.”
Forgoing a tree doesn’t mean you have to forget about the shiny twinkle of Christmas lights either. “Fairy lights and tinsel aren’t the only ways to bring a bit of glitter in for Christmas,” insists Grant-Riley. “I like a little bit of sparkle. I’m really into smoky glass, for tea light holders and things like that. It gives the space a touch of muted luxury.”
Less is more
When it comes to decorating your table, Grant-Riley advises not giving in to the temptation to overdo things. “I take a lot of tips from Scandinavian design,” she says. “They pay a lot of attention to detail on the table in Scandinavia. It’s all simple, good quality table linens, cutlery and tableware, with no fuss.
Then they’ll add little touches like lots of candles or sprigs of bay on the sides of plates. Less is more.” This minimalistic approach can be applied in other ways to create the illusion of space, according to Grant-Riley. “When you’re working with a small space, keep the colour palette small,” she suggests. “I let the kids have bright colours in their rooms, but I like dark blues, bright whites, soft rose pink, antique gold. Nothing too strong.”
Pinterest helps you to plan ahead
Grant-Riley’s Christmas research can start as early as summer – “When you’re a stylist, you can be working on Christmas in July” – and throughout the year she uses Pinterest to collate ideas she thinks might work for her own home or a project she’s working on.
“It makes everything very easy,” she adds. “It’s the quickest way for me to find ideas then organise and share them. It’s such an intuitive tool to use, pulling in things it thinks you will like based on what you pin regularly.
I also have Pinterest in the forefront of my mind when I’m shooting anything for my own content.” This year, Grant-Riley will be putting all these ideas into practice about a week before the big day. “I’m a real stickler for not decorating earlier than that,” she says. “I saw a house near me that was covered in lights from the beginning of October. That seemed a bit too keen!”