Christmas trees began appearing in homes almost 200 years ago, the custom brought to wealthy British and Irish houses thanks to Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, who had spotted them in Germany. These days most homes will be festooned with festive decor inside and out for much of December, many since even earlier. How far we have come from an old crib and some ratty bits of tinsel...
But with sustainability a big consideration, how can we make sure the Christmas sparkle is not just disposable and can be rekindled year after year? We ask some experts how best to decorate for Yuletide 2023.
Maria Reidy, event planner and owner of luxury homewares brand Signature Editions
I have always loved Christmas and I am very traditional. There are always different trends, whether it’s white Christmas trees or purple Christmas trees, but personally I have always just stuck to classic Christmas. For me and for a lot of people it is emotive and evocative; it brings up memories of our childhoods. So, for me, it’s about decorating your home in a way that makes you happy or makes your children happy – making it nice and warm and welcoming, and nicely lit.
My best advice is to invest in good-quality outdoor lights that are waterproof and will last a few years. I can’t stress enough how putting away your Christmas decorations and Christmas lights properly is as important as buying good quality. This is especially true with outdoor lights – you have to let them dry out properly before you put them away and wrap them up properly.
With indoor lights my tip is to always wrap them around a bottle of wine so when you bring them down from the attic the following year there is a nice treat.
Decorations can stand the test of time and I try to buy one good-quality decoration every year so that hopefully one day I will pass them on to my kids and they will have their own little collection to start off with.
This year in my online store I have a lot of Nordic-style Christmas decor, as well as the more classic styles. That’s very popular – it’s a minimalist and contemporary style but it is still warm, as the Nordic countries like lots of lights. It’s just a bit more streamlined.
A good rule of thumb for decorating your tree is maybe just stick to three colours and then use lots of lights – you can never have enough lights. I prefer warm yellow lights to the colder white. But then people like a mishmash of all the decorations they have collected and, truly, anything goes when it comes to Christmas. It’s about creating memories and experiences that you are going to remember, not about following trends.
Emma Murphy, creative manager and furniture and accessories buyer with EZ Living Interiors
Our Christmas offering this year follows four main themes – boho, luxe, party season, and Nordic – to give people ideas for how to decorate their homes. Boho follows on from the interior theme of warm neutrals and organic materials – so, woven rattan, wool tweed and varying timbers, which add a rustic warmth to our Christmas interiors.
Luxe is a dramatic look and this theme incorporates a lot of rich blues and gold. Party season is for those who love sparkle – disco balls, tiny martini glass ornaments, sequins and glitter to create a tree that glows with fun.
Our Nordic theme has a twist, with pampas, pale metallics and woodland inspired ornaments – think birds, acorns etc. It’s about novelty and fun and beautiful pieces that can be added to each year to build a tree ornament collection that shows your personality.
We know that with newer homes with underfloor heating, a real Christmas tree will not last as long as they once did, making artificial trees more and more popular. They say it takes an artificial tree 10 uses to cover its carbon footprint and our artificial trees are made to last. They are manufactured by a fourth-generation, family-owned supplier who has been making trees since the 1950s.
Christmas floristry is really popular. When I am styling a tree for a photo shoot, I will always incorporate lots of sprays and sprigs. By pushing long, gilded sprays of ferns and bending smaller sprays of ginkgo leaf around your branches, your tree becomes denser looking.
This in turn makes for the perfect base for your treasured ornaments to sit among and really shine. These sprays also work well to update an old wreath or garland and add some new life to a piece which has grown tired looking.
Samantha Smith, owner, DoorO.ie
During the pandemic I began making bespoke wreaths and faux floral arrangements with really good-quality silk flowers that last. This has proved popular during all seasons but at Christmas I decorate the windows or interiors of local businesses such as coffee shops, and people ask me to come in and decorate their homes, be it their trees or their staircase.
I have definitely seen a shift in Christmas decor in the past few years. People certainly are buying for longevity now more than ever. I suppose the saying is true: buy cheap, buy twice. Gone are the days of tinsel and paper decorations that just last one year and are thrown in the bin – it was such a waste.
People are more conscious of the environment and are more keen to buy good-quality, sustainable investment pieces. And they are looking after them so they last years and years. Storing your garlands or door wreaths properly means they will last.
Another thing I have noticed is that there is a much bigger interest in buying from Irish businesses and people want to buy an Irish handmade product rather than a mass-produced item from the high street.
When Christmas lights became a big thing, lots of houses were very glitzy and over the top with coloured lights – it was real American style – but I have seen people pare it back in recent years. Now there is an elegance to it; some warm, white lights and greenery can transform a house and look really classy.