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Stay one step ahead this Christmas

You look at the calendar and realise that Christmas is a few weeks away. What do you do? Not panic because the UK's most colourful blog is at hand to help you be one step ahead during the festive season!

Planning is crucial whether you have relatives staying over or entertaining friends just on Christmas day. Not only do you need to make sure the house looks its best but also that you are not exhausted come Boxing Day.

Here are my top tips to stay one step ahead when decorating your home this Christmas.


1/ Get the right tree in

I like to decorate early and by the end of November, I will have chosen my tree. Last year I wrote this post about choosing real or artificial tree. My preference, for several reasons, is to have a real one. But how to choose the right tree?

I always get a Nordmann Fir because it retains its needles well and lasts longer. In comparison, a Norway Spruce does not have the same 'shelf-life' and you should buy it only 1-2 weeks before Christmas. Not earlier or it will dry out unless routed.

If your preference is an artificial tree, you may want to consider a pre-lit one. That way you don't need to worry about jumbled-up fairy lights after the holidays!

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

Tip: Once you bring your tree home, remove the net and let it rest for a few hours in a watered base (for non-potted trees). This way the branches will drop on their own and you won't need to force them down or take wild guesses about where your baubles will end up.

Choosing the right Christmas lights

Calculate 50 lights per foot height. For our 7-ft high tree, I used a box of 380 warm white lights. For our 4-ft a box of 180 lights was enough.

Don't waste lights where they are not seen. So if your tree is pushed against a wall, then its back should have no lights at all. Bring the lights forward where they are most enjoyed.

2/ Decorate your tree

This is where the fun begins! Choose your colour scheme and get ornaments and decorations that will complement it. This year, I have gone for a champagne/copper theme in the living room and blue and pink in the dining room.

Everyone should help with the tree decorating process and in our home there will be Christmas songs playing in the background.

Even if the kids just stuff baubles 'wherever', let them do their thing and re-arrange afterward (they won't notice, and only if that is your thing).

Seasons in Colour Christmas

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

Tip: Local garden centres are a great place to source unusual hanging decorations and ornaments.

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis
Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

If the tree is a little sparse around the base and you don't have a tree skirt, huge gift-wrapped boxes at its foot are great gap fillers and a good way to reuse boxes from recent deliveries.

For a coordinated look, try to have wrapping paper similar to your colour scheme.

An easy way to add fun and something 'extra' is with groups of large honeycomb decorations. You can hang these next to the tree in clusters (see below), scatter a few at the bottom of your tree, or attach them to stair railings.

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

3/ Make sure you post your cards and presents early

By the end of the first week of December you should have also sent all your Christmas cards. Check Royal Mail's recommended posting dates especially if you are sending cards/parcels abroad.

Do not leave deliveries for the last minute. With Christmas being the busiest year for couriers and the Royal Mail, things do get delayed and sometimes, unfortunately, lost.

Avoid dramas by making sure that 'Santa' delivers all presents well in time for them to be wrapped! By the way, have you written your wish list yet!?

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

And if you are out and about, make sure you take advantage of most courier companies' 'drop to a safe place or with a neighbour' service to avoid having to drive to the nearest depot. That's time better spent on...

4/ Order all the food you will need as well as the turkey

And shop around for that. Believe it or not, I get the best price at my local butcher and that means a) I support a local business and b) I know where my turkey comes from. And this year it's from an award-winning farm and costs £10 less than a high-end supermarket's offer.

5/ Be Ready to Treat your Guests

With the Christmas tree decorating complete, you should now focus on giving your guest bedroom a boutique hotel vibe. Invest in a good quality mattress and a warm duvet and dress it for the occasion.

My preferred theme for winter is 'alpine' with lots of white, red and black.

Use throws and accent cushions as well as atmospheric lighting. Add string fairy lights or cotton ball lights over large twigs to an eye-catching effect. Complement the look with faux fur or natural sheepskin rugs to give the room a luxurious feel.

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

Leave welcome gifts like chocolates or perfumed candles on a bedside table or chair. If you are feeling extra generous, new pairs of slippers and city guides - for those coming from afar - will surely be enjoyed.

6/ Elevate your table setting

When it comes to dressing the Christmas table, more is more! I like to test my table setting a week before Christmas, and if anything is missing I can still get replacements on time. Beautiful glassware and cutlery add to the festive spirit.

Decorate with vases full of flowers or ivy, holly and spruce. You can also stud satsumas with cloves - they look and smell great!

Colourful candles, linen napkins, gold cutlery and fabulous-looking plates and accessories are the finishing touches that will wow your guests and turn you into the host with the most! After all, a convivial setting is just as important as delicious food.

Trend alert: Gold cutlery is big this season. I got mine here.

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

Resources: Limited Edition blue butterfly print 'Morpho' by Louise McNaught,; Bird Fynbos Tablecloth Kingfisher and napkins: Halsted Design. Gold cutlery and brass lantern, Mia Fleur; Blue Ducks and pink planter, Spitafields antique market; candleholders and shaker, Anthropologie; glassware, LSA International; Tapered candles, Ester and Erik.

Tip: Battery-operated fairy lights can also be used around the centre of your table. Artful touches such as mini wreaths attached to the back of chairs can bring a natural feel.

For the holidays, my dresser is filled with sparkling glasses, spirits and cocktail accessories to make an enticing bar area. You can use a sideboard or bar cart for this. Remember to drink responsibly.

Get ready for Christmas with interiors blogger Jenny Kakoudakis

Some extras!

When is your service and MOT due? Mine is on the first week of January so I am bringing it forward as we are planning to have a mini break over the holidays. This is really important if you are planning to travel over the holidays (when garages are mostly closed).

And take some time to check that all your travel papers are ok (you cannot travel with expired passport!) and that your home and travel insurance are up to date.

Tip: If you are planning to be away during the festive days, get some plug timers for your sockets. Table and floor lamps in your home will go on for a few hours in the evening giving the impression that someone is always home.

So there you have it. My guide to a stress-free Christmas is to make sure you are one step ahead with your decorating!

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