Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas decorating



I often read a blog called "Cupcakes and Cashmere", which is written by a gloriously Californian control freak and tells you how to do your nails, how to "braid" your hair, how to make teeny tiny sweeties or lovely brunches or "style" your coffee table. Style my coffee table!? A problem I never knew I had! Whoop!

The blog has taken quite a ribbing online, most notably from The Huffington Post (those killjoys, unless you are Sarah Koenig you're dead meat), who declared that blogs like Cupcakes are "bad for women". I see where that sentiment comes from, but do you know what's bad for women? WOMEN ARE BAD FOR WOMEN. As in, we seek this stuff out. We like pretty things. We are competitive. We fucking love it. Sorry but it's just a fact.

For my part I am really relieved that Cupcakes and Cashmere exists. I am visually inarticulate and inept. Given a choice I dress as if I have fallen out of a bin and my home decoration would extend to my best clippings from the paper plastered on the wall with wallpaper gum, interspersed with "Torso of the Week" shots from Heat. And Garfield cartoons.

However, at the same time I think it's nice to have a presentable house and to deck your halls with some seasonal stuff. But I need to be told, or at least to be inspired. So I fall on Cupcakes and Cashmere like some sort of information-starved castaway. The author, Emily Schuman, may be a presentation and marketing genius, selling old rope and getting paid per item that she puffs but I don't care. I think her interiors advice is brilliant and she collects interesting things.

Anyway this year I am pleased with the way I've done my house - and when I say house I mean my ground floor, because who decorates upstairs? - though it is not how Emily Schuman would have done it because she lives in LA so her house is exclusively white and gold with colour "pops" (this is affectionate teasing, you understand).

I've gone more this year for a Germanic, Mittel-Europe Victorian thing in Kentish Town.



I always hesitate to buy Christmas decorations in the manner of huge glittery deer, 1ft high "Christmas trees", star-shaped wreaths etc because I feel like a fucking mug, so most years roll round and I look in our box of paltry Christmas decorations and think "God, is this it?" 

So from now on I will allow myself 1 (one) mid-sized Christmas decoration per year. This year it was that fellow, above, the Nutcracker, from the Nutcracker. If you've never read the Nutcracker (as I hadn't until this year) do have a skim through. Christmas decorations - mouse kings, candy canes, the nutcracker doll - will all suddenly make sense. 

Anyway I've noted a theme in my humble bag of decorations, which is a) red b) white c) green d) "old" e) "unbreakable". So that's what I'm sticking with. I think picking and sticking with a style is probably my biggest challenge in life, mostly because I've got no idea who I am, or who I want to be. Emily Schuman doesn't have this trouble. She likes these kids of clothes, this kind of sofa, this is her kind of style. 

I've also always wanted to put together a Christmas food table, crystallised and mythologised in Nigella's Christmas as "The Welcome Table". Again, I didn't want to have to spend 40 billion pounds on this (neither should you want to) and managed to put something together using old bits I had round the house and using mostly fresh food and foliage begged off the florist down the road. 

I remember reading a piece in a magazine about having different heights and levels to the table. I didn't quite manage that, but I did put some grapes on a cake stand, which I thought looked quite nice and was in the spirit of the advice. 

Some detail from my Christmas table:




Note how I have really embraced cliche here. I want eye triggers that say "Christmas" - hence the Stilton, the mince pies, the clementines, the walnuts, the holly, the candy canes. Really not subtle. But mega-festive which is all that matters. 






11 comments:

  1. so - and excuse the confusion - the Christmas Table. Do you have to replenish it every day? or is it just when guests are over? (or do you stock it up in the morning and do as I would do - graze, All Day Long? ) Either way it's beautiful. (It'd last 4 minutes here in the tropics (less, considering my feral children), but a lovely, wistful and fabulously Christmassy idea nonetheless). Go you, all Delia!

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    1. No this is not a permanent feature, this was just for an afternoon kids' party, but I didn't want to trumpet this event in the main copy because I didn't want to upset all and any who weren't invited. You are clever to be anonymous. Impossible to have this as a rolling banquet buffet as it's on my kitchen table and then where would we dump coats, wrapping paper, groceries, laptops, keys, loose change, balled-up wee nappies etc?

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    2. Surely you'd put all of that (bar the coats, possibly) in your handbag? (Oh god I found a filthy nappy in my new - POSH - handbag on saturday. FROM THURSDAY.)

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    3. The mention of balled wee nappy on the kitchen table has increased my respect for you thrice fold. Also, completley unrelated to The Reluctant's comment, you are so prolific with your posts these days, that I am ACTUALLY struggling to keep up.

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  2. Your Christmas decorations look fabulous! I don't see there's anything wrong with enjoying a bit of domesticity. I also follow the blog Cupcakes and Cashmere and love it. I admire Emily always comes across as very professional, with beautiful images and interesting suggestions.

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  3. I normally get away with a single Christmas tree lavishly decorated with all sorts of ropey but sentimentally meaningful old tat. However Daughter (18) has turned into a totally controlling and weirdly Californian ambience nut and we have been terrorized into becoming the House of Tasteful Branches, Berries and Pine Cones. Scary stuff. I keep expecting to see a tiny woodland creature in the mirror.

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  4. 'I always hesitate to buy Christmas decorations in the manner of huge glittery deer, 1ft high "Christmas trees", star-shaped wreaths etc'

    Ha this is exactly what my living room looks like (the only room to have been decorated). I've fallen for it hook, line and 99p store

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  5. Ha ha, that C&C blog is hilarious - thank you for bringing it to my attention. How can people say that it's bad for women, we love that rubbish and some of us do have a sense of humour you know.

    I can't wait to see whether it all goes to pot when she has her baby. How can you keep a coffee table neatly styled with candle paraphernalia with children about?

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    1. I know! I am gripped to see what's going to happen next... she is going to have to style it out - literally - somehow... xx

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  6. Esther, your "I did put some grapes on a cake stand" made me laugh out loud ... I'm going to use that phrase over Xmas too!

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  7. I can smell your beautifully scented tree from 6,000 miles away. :-)

    Judith de Silverlake

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