We all want our homes to exude welcome and warmth, never more so than at this time of year; a place where family and friends feel instantly at home and unmistakably Christmassy. A beautifully decorated Christmas home goes a long way towards achieving that. But we don’t all have the time, skills or money to deck every room in the house out like a Liberty’s window display. I’ve decided this year to be strategic in my efforts; to create that Christmas home magic with minimal time, effort and cash.
My genius tactic here is to invest in creating the right first impression. Research shows that it takes just a tenth of one second from clapping eyes on someone to form a first impression. Moreover, once formed, impressions tend not to change much, if at all. I doubt that anyone has applied that theory to the specific scenario of creating a Christmas home. However, on a wholly unscientific basis, I’m pretty confident the same rules apply.
So what makes a good Christmas first impression? Undoubtedly this starts before our guests have even entered our homes.
Hack 1: Light Up, Light Up
What we’re aiming for here is exceptional Christmas kerb appeal; think less an entryway demurely hinting at festive cheer within, but rather one that screams “It’s Christmaaaaas” Noddy Holder style (in the best possible taste though).
In this, as in so many other aspects of home decor, lighting is your best friend.
Perhaps you are in the more is more school of outdoor Christmas decorations. In which case, bless you! Admiring the neighbourhood light fest of gutters dripping with icicles, reindeer pulling soaring sleighs, and Santa shimmying up gable ends, all in pulsating technicolour LED glory, is one of my favourite seasonal treats.
If however you prefer not to trouble the national grid with your Christmas garden displays, and are aiming for something a little more understated, then you wouldn’t go far wrong with a hurricane lamp.
There was a time when, in terms of pricing, hurricane lamps were a serious luxury item. Thankfully these days there are some very lovely options that’ll hike up the hygge at your door while doing minimal damage to the festive prosecco budget.
- Ceramic lantern, Nordic House, £12
- Colonial metal and glass latern, Dunelm, £9.99
- Wooden candle lantern, £21.99 Lights4Fun via Amazon (free delivery with Prime)
- Lotus hurricane lantern, copper and white, Scandinavian Design Center, £46
Once all your guests arrive, you can bring your lantern inside to add another layer to the twenty three you’ve probably (hopefully) got going on already. And a hurricane lamp is not just for Christmas obviously: it’s a proper year round entertaining asset. And that is exactly what you’ll say if your other half spots another self gift disguided among the Christmas deliveries.
Another key weapon in your lighting arsenal are micro fairy lights. You’ve probably got enough of these to recreate the Milky Way already, but if not, bag a batch now. Either on their own in your lantern or wound around the candle, they will add an especially festive sparkle to your entrance. Not to mention the thousand and one uses you’ll find for them indoors. If it isn’t moving in our house this year, its got one of these wrapped round it.
Hack 2: Dress for the Occasion
You don’t want to stop at lighting your front door. No self respecting door should greet Christmas visitors in the buff. Homemade wreaths are unique and fabulous of course but I’m guessing you might be a bit busy by now for forest foraging. Decent fresh bought wreaths cost a bomb. But a quality faux wreath will outlast the Baileys, so can easily be justified. Fact.
- Pearl wreath, Sainsbury’s £14
- Red berry wreath, Linea £30 (reduced from £60)
- White glitter wreath, Next £25
- Metallic leaf wreath, Marks and Spencers, £25
Hack 3: Smells Like Christmas Spirit
Applying more “science” to the situation, it’s well known that smell can affect mood. So a waft of Christmassy fragrance should see to it that visitors are elevated to a joyous yuletide reverie by the power of perfume alone.
There are plenty of smells lying in wait to assault the unsuspecting Christmas visitor to my house: last night’s fish curry, overlooked dirty football kit and wet dog perhaps. None of which are likely to evoke the kind of Christmassy vibe I’m aiming for. The cunning plan is to head these less than festive aromas off at the pass with a strategically placed yuletide freshener.
This year I’m pinning my hopes on the very clever Scentsicles.
These Christmassy smelling sticks are designed to be hung as tree ornaments, lending an illusion of authenticity to even the most obvious of fauxs. I’m going to incorporate mine in a wreath to be hung in my vestibule in the hope that the gorgeous aroma of freshly cut pine is pervasive enough to be the defining olfactory experience of a visit to mine.
Hack 4: Deck the Halls
In my youth, Christmas decor was rigidly reserved for the main living room. Anyone extending the tinsel beyond that would have been considered up themselves. These days even having two trees isn’t considered crass. I read a blog post this week suggesting ways to decorate the kitchen. This is to be commended for the truly committed Christmas-deccie-o-holics. (I aspire one day to be one of those.) However, if you’re not inclined to prioritise decorating a room to be “enjoyed” only by you while stuffing the turkey and sweating over your roasties, then you might want turn your focus elsewhere.
For bang for your buck, if you’re going to decorate anywhere outside your living room, it has to be the hall. While of course your guests will not be lingering there, the favourable first impression you create in those initial moments in your home will distract them from any of the plainer, less festooned corners of the house. And if you’re lucky enough to have some, stairs present brilliant decorating possibilities.
Having spent way too much time labouring over my paper pin wheel decorations (lovely as they are), and not nearly enough hanging wreaths in the bathroom, I’m hoping these hacks will hoodwink my visitors into thinking I’ve gone to considerable more effort than is in fact the case.
Do you have any Christmas home hacks? What will you be doing to make visitors feel super Christmassy?
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