Her number one tip?? Making a great impression! Whether you're meeting new family for the first time, or you're trying to salvage your image from Thanksgiving's bender, arrive looking polished and sober!
1. Make Great Impressions… Welcome family and neighbours by lighting pathways with tealight garden lanterns, LED light sticks and fairy lights wrapped round tree trunks or branches. Have guests met by a beautiful red berry wreath and windows decorated with silver snowflake cut-outs, reindeers and Christmas trees using snow spray. Then as they enter inside beautiful displays of cross stitch Christmas paper chains fill all the empty spaces and fairy lights brighten the fireplace.
2. Sprucing Up The Tree… A tree full of glistening lights and an array of colouful decorations heightens wonder and expectation around Christmas. Colourful red skating tree decorations and other beautiful pieces will stand out against dark green trees. Pick out timeless and unusual decorations with a nostalgic touch such as charming wooden decorations or for something unique, silver and red personalized baubles. Add a few edible chocolate treats and candy cane sticks; something the younger members of the family will love. Save any spare fir branches from the tree for napkin decorations or to add above the fireplace for a touch of nature. Look out for make your own angel kits or Christmas decoration kits, a fun weekend activity to do with your children and a perfect creative accessory for the top of the tree.
3. Tis The Season To Be Baking… Cookies and biscuits are great additions to a family Christmas and children will love helping you make them. Look out for christmas cookie cutter sets that come in a variety of shapes such as star, reindeer, snowflake or Christmas tree designs. Store your baked treats in tins and hand them out to friends who drop by, served with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Hang biscuits on the tree by piercing a hole and threading pretty ribbons through them or wrap them in cellophane, tie with curling ribbon and hand them out as end of term gifts. Other wonderful festive treats include Christmas popcorn (caramelized and dusted with cinnamon) chocolate snowball truffles (coated in desiccated coconut) or chunks of gooey marshmallow-filled rocky road. Hand these out as end of term gifts or to family members, sealed in festive christmas party boxes.
4. A Gingerbread house… Create a Scandinavian fairytale gingerbread house, good enough to eat. Not only will it look and smell appealing, it will bring out the child inside of everyone. Get your children to help build and decorate it with you and you can put it in a windowsill lit up or use it as a table centerpiece, adorned with hundreds of sweets!
5. All Dressed Up… Christmas themed tablecloths do all the ‘dressing’ aspect for you, there’s so much colour in the print you just need to add a centerpiece to give it some dimension such as an enchanted Christmas centrepiece. But if you’re opting for a more traditional table setting with plain red partyware, greens and whites then choose decorative cotten napkins, fun placemats and novelty place card holders. Fill bowls with colourful treats such as candy cane, peppermints and other shiny wrapped treats (Roses or Quality Streets). Alternatively festive baubles in vases or seven-tiered cake stands filled with an array of jovial delights. You can then arrange candles and nightlights at differing heights to create a dramatic and cosy atmosphere. Red crystal gems and snowflake confetti scattered in blank spaces on the table will glisten and catch the light, evoking a sense of enchantment. And don’t forget rocking rudolph party poppers, chocolates and make-your-own party crackers – a few essentials that make a big difference.
6. Winter Brews… Hot chocolate ganache sticks stirred into mugs of warm milk are wonderful seasonal treats for the family. Then top your steamy brews with frothy cream or mini marshmallows – heaven on a cold wintry night. Yet nothing fills a house with festive aroma faster than mulled apple simmering on top of the stove. Children will love drinking this too (without the alcohol) and can help prepare the apples, studding them with cloves.
7. A Flicker Of An Idea… At this time of year everything seems to gleam so fill your house with lots of tiny lights such as green christmas fairy lights. Fairy lights play an essential part and can be draped from beams, twisted round staircases and hung around door frames for a winter sparkle. Rustic rattan reindeers nestled in a corner and wrapped with fairy lights look stunning and magical.Light your Yule log or homemade cupcakes with angel flames – candles with a party piece of their own! When lit their flames burn red, blue and green creating a magical effect that children will go crazy about! Tie star LED illoom balloons (filled with helium) onto the backs of chairs using curling ribbon or tie them in clusters around the room.
8. Wrap, Tie, & Tag… Try to wrap all your gifts as far in advance as possible, this will make you feel more organized. Look out for Christmas tissue paper, perfect for wrapping stocking-fillers and use some red curling ribbon for a special touch. You can add ribbons, tags and bows later on, but label with sticky notes so you don’t forget what’s what. Chic satin ribbon can add colour to the simplest wrapping paper and can be used to tie around napkins or to hang decorations. Run out of gift tags? Cut up old Christmas cards into gift-size tags and use them instead.
9. Don't Leave It To The Last Minute… Brainstorm all the jobs you need to do in preparation for Christmas and put it up on your pinboard at home. Mark off the jobs as you do them and give yourself an extra day to get everything done. Think what food you can prepare in advance, (things like sauces, brandy butter etc), what you can freeze and try to avoid the supermarkets during the weekday evening rush and at weekends. It’s always useful to update your address book, in preparation for sending out Christmas cards. You could always get your computer-savvy child to help you type out all the addresses to avoid having to use your scribbled out address book.
10. Shop Online… Make life easy and buy your children’s Christmas present online which will eliminate aimless shopping trips and mean you won’t have troubles trying to hide their gifts whilst you’re out shopping with them. Write a gift list and a budget before you shop online, otherwise you can get carried away.