The home is where we rest, eat and sleep, but it is also a space where we celebrate and we lament, we laugh and we cry and if we are lucky, we entertain. Traditions are created within the walls of a home and while hearts are broken and rejoices are celebrated, memories are born.
Many families, whether by blood or chosen, will have customs and traditions that are an integral part of the rituals of home life. Some eat a roast dinner every Sunday, others have their own cocktail hour every Friday. Some families have games nights, taco Tuesdays or movies and popcorn to share. One tradition that is shared in many homes around certain parts of the world, is Christmas.
The tradition of decorating the home goes as far back as ancient Rome when they would hang wreaths and boughs to celebrate the feast of Saturnalia. The origin of feasting and the exchange of gifts was, like many pagan festivals, a winter solstice celebration of the agricultural god Saturn. While we have come a long way from Ancient Rome, there are some customs that have stood the test of time.
Trees and decorations seem to appear earlier and earlier every year. Some of us simply love the adornments and cannot wait to dive into the festivities and others just want a distraction from the long and dark winters. But whatever the reason, when the eye catches those twinkling lights in the windows of homes and gardens, the magic nostalgia can enliven even the dullest street. For those of us lucky enough to have a dining room or a space large enough to host a dinner party, it is a joy to spruce up the room at Christmas.
The season suggests decadence and glamour. It is the time to be ‘extra,’ and tables can spill over with lights, fruits, berries, and foliage. Cocktail parties with disco balls and twinkling candles encourage velvet corners for whispers and kisses. Most of us, however, are grappling with kitchenettes and living / cum dining spaces. But that does not mean it can’t be luxurious.
Lighting is key to creating that seductive ambience and with the dark evenings, at least in the northern hemisphere, there is wonderful opportunity to control the atmosphere in a room. If you want people to nestle into the couches while sipping mulled wine, red lights and warm whites are ideal. Warm bulbed tree lights are cosy and generate a relaxed ambience.
LED lights are safer, cleaner and will last a long time. There are countless options including real wax LED candles, strings and curtains of lights and flickering tea lights. There is no end to the creativity that can be achieved with just a little imagination and some tape.
If you are throwing a New Year’s Eve party with dancing and drinks, colder white or purple lights are the key. The electric brightness inspires a lively party mood. Many modern styles can be achieved without compromising on style. While lots and lots of faerie lights and candles work so well for a party, make sure to maintain some dark corners and softer lit spaces. Guests want to dance but they don’t necessarily want to be lit with unforgiving neon.
Gifts as decorations
Homes and apartments can be a little overcrowded with a full-sized tree, but small tabletop trees and garland wound around stairs or windows will achieve the same effect. With space at a premium, think of wrapped presents as decorations; they can take up a lot of space so why not incorporate them into the scheme.
There are numerous styles of Christmas decorations and some of the more traditional styles can be creative as well as an exercise in recycling and upcycling. Brown paper wrapped with string, or even used newspapers can create a Dickensian style stack of packages. Throw some holly and foliage into the mix and now you have very pretty gifts to adorn the room.
If you want a more luxurious style, splash the gifts in glitter and confetti and wrap some battery-operated LED lights around the pile of gifts.
The traditional green and red colour schemes are easily identifiable and beautifully complimentary but there is also room for black and gold or silver and white including minimal metallic styles. Whether it is ‘Willy Wonka’ fun or ‘Little Women’ tradition, there are endless options to decorate a home and create that winter spirit, all it takes is a little imagination.