Christmas decorating tips from the experts

Twelve creative design firms offer personal Christmas decorating tips to inspire you to create a most stylish, fabulous and festive interior this holiday season.                                                                                                                                                    

Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Photographer: Frederic Vasseur, Designer/Stylist: Veronique Villaret – The Interior Archive

1. Tips for setting the dining table

“Christmas is my favourite time of year for decorating the home and dressing the dining table is a key part of this. It is the one time of the year when more really is more! Dressing the table on Christmas Eve has become one our family traditions, it helps to offset any last-minute stresses on Christmas Day, but it’s also a lovely moment during a day of preparation where you get to slow the tempo and be creative. 

I like to make a multi-sensory tablescape. For height and drama use plenty of green leafy foliage, such as ivy, holly and spruce. In amongst the branches thread LED fairy lights and hang tiny bells and baubles. In amongst this dot small pots of scented white hyacinth on the table as well as Christmas candles.

For the place settings, layering of plates is key – as is the colour scheme or theme – which is nice to tie in with the rest of the Christmas decorations in the home.  Lavish chargers with matt gold cutlery add glamour and hand-written place settings give a personal touch.” Jane Landino, Creative & Design Head of Studio at Taylor Howes.

Taylor Howes - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Howes Table by DAVIDSON & Taylor Howes, Florist: Larry Walshe; Tableware/glassware: Bonadea.

2. Colour schemes for Christmas

“Rather than using traditional Christmas colours, I love to use clashing, vibrant and fun colours. Think Frida Kahlo and Mexican folk art: dancing figures, multi-coloured beading and tea lights. Splash out with orange, brown, berry red, yellow, patterns – enjoy! I then balance it all with fresh greenery such as lots of fir tree branches with pops of colour bursting out.” Mark Gillette

Colour Schemes - Christmas Decorating Tips

IMAGE: Photographer: Frederic Vasseur/Cote Ouest, Designer/Stylist: Veronique Villaret – The Interior Archive

3. How to decorate the entrance hall & staircase for Christmas

“There is nothing like the enveloping warmth and light of arriving home on a chilly winter’s day!  To walk into a hall blazing with candles is a treat – the soft light so alluring and warming, the movement they add to a room both comforting and fragile – and particularly poignant at Christmas.  Along with candles I love burning frankincense (oOumm 16 Tauri Candles). Evocative of the sacred and the exotic, it adds to that perfect Christmassy atmosphere of anticipation and hope. Also, piling the tops of paintings with holly, fir and ivy to bring the outdoors in adds drama, height and a naturalness.

My grandmother had chest upon chest of homemade potpourri along the halls in her house.  I adore having bowls piled with Santa Maria Novella potpourri around, particularly at Christmas because it reminds me of her, and because Christmas is about families – past, present and future – and whether present or not. It also makes the best present!”  Lucy Hammond Giles, interior decorator for Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler.

Stairs - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Stefano Scata – The Interior Archive

4. Decorating the mantelpiece for Christmas

“During the winter months, nothing can compete with an open fire – the mantle shelves decorated with festive decorations and the welcoming fire below. As was always the case historically, beautiful chimneypieces add glamour to interiors and light up the room.”  Will Fisher, Jamb

“To decorate our house at Christmas we usually get up early and go to the flower market to buy armfuls of fir, ivy, holly and lush green foliage. With the chimneypiece shelf in our sitting room being so generously deep we can place lots of foliage in a very relaxed way.” Charlotte Freemantle, Jamb

Jamb - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Talbot fireplace, Jamb

5. Creative Christmas tree ornaments and decorations

“Consistency is key when decorating your tree, less is more in this case. Choose a colour scheme and stick to it! A top tip is to fill your tree with plain and cost-effective decorations, spread evenly throughout and splash out on a few unique and lavish pieces. Make this your tradition and keep collecting special ornaments each year. They also make great stocking fillers!” Rachel Winham

 Tree Decorations - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Photographer: Tim Beddow, Designer/Stylist: Annabel Lewis/V V Rouleaux – The Interior Archive

6. Gifts and gift-wrapping ideas with a conscience

“Christmas is a time of indulgence, generosity and excess, but with that, unfortunately, comes waste: vast quantities of single use wrapping, unwanted gifts and disposable decorations. If you buy cheap items, that are designed to be thrown away, sadly they are only ever going in that direction. By buying second hand items, or even better, using things you already have and treasure, you will help with ecology and save money. We wrap presents in fabrics that have other uses (tea towels, vintage scarves) or in reusable boxes. We salvaged some great storage containers from a museum store that we regularly use. Vintage gifts that have an inherent value are also a better investment than some new plastic item that will be tomorrow’s landfill.” Adam Hills, Retrouvius

Wrapping - Christmas decorating tips


7. Adding greenery to your interior for Christmas design

“To add greenery into your home for Christmas, try making some easy decorations from holly and other festive sprigs such as a candle display or a handmade wreath to hang outside your door.  Alternatively, if DIY is not your forté, accessorise with faux greenery for a traditional Christmas vibe.” Falchi Interiors

Greenery - - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE:  Photographer: Tim Beddow, Designer/Stylist: V V Rouleau – The Interior Archive

8. How to decorate bookcases for Christmas

“For an instant opulent upgrade to dull bookcases, you could line the backs with old pieces of gold and red damask or brocade to add a festive backdrop of colour and texture.” House Couturier

Bookcases - Christmas decorating tips


9. Garden decoration for Christmas

“Opulence at Christmas is very in vogue. Here at Hill House we certainly believe that to over embellish this festive season will keep your home looking fabulous. Undoubtedly, decorating the garden at this time of the year can often be a minefield with all that is available in Christmas garden décor. Our top tips to keep you on trend this Christmas is to keep a fresh elegant wreath on the door and to impress with lots and lots of lights! More is more!” Hill House Interiors

Garden - - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Photographer: Stefano Scata – The Interior Archive

10. Adding glitz to Christmas decoration

“Decorations should not be limited to the tree or the mantelpiece. Christmas is a time to dress the dining table and prepare your silverware for extra glitz.  I also love to light as many candles as possible. The warm glow of the light against the polished silverware creates such an elegant, celebratory atmosphere.” Paulo Moschino, Nicholas Haslam

Nicholas Haslam - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Nicholas Haslam

11. Original Christmas wreaths

“Natural, vibrant, dense and with the right fragrance – no kitsch lights or pastel colours, the perfect wreath is rich with autumn colours: orange, dark green, brown and the scent of mulled wine. In these cases, tradition beats innovation by far”.  Italo Armone, Ivar

Wreaths - - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Photographer: Stefano Scata – The Interior Archive

12. How to set the scene for Christmas

“For me, the strongest connotations of Christmas are the glorious scents that surround us at this time of year, from roasting chestnuts to crackling log fires, enhanced by the crisp nature of the air outside. The invitation to wrap up and enjoy the fresh aromas of nature are extended to decorating the mantelpiece for Christmas. I love to use evergreen foliage as a way to bring the outdoors in, placed along the full length of the mantelpiece with tall, beautifully scented candles positioned at either end. The foliage is then scattered with pinecones and silver or gold baubles, which glisten in the glow of the candle light creating a warm and cosy ambience. A splash of colour can be added by using seasonal flowers and plants such as holly or poinsettia that will complement the greenery perfectly.” Roselind Wilson

Fireplace - - Christmas decorating tips

IMAGE: Photographer: Stefano Scata – The Interior Archive

We hope you’ve enjoyed our festive blog and found some useful Christmas decorating tips, trends and inspiration for your home and garden. A huge thank you to all our members who were kind enough to share their ideas, insights and expertise!

Please share your Christmas interior home photos with us on Instagram using our hashtag #xmaswiththehousedirectory and follow us on @thehousedirectory if you don’t already!

Merry Christmas from us all at The House Directory!



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