Homemade Christmas decorating 2020

Are you ‘going early’ this year, are undecided or maybe waiting until the winter solstice to ‘deck the halls’? A neighbour put their front door wreath up on 16 November, which under normal circumstances might seem a little premature but then everything is different this year. In a bid for some much-needed festive cheer it seems our neighbour is not alone. Even though this Christmas is going to be tough for so many, people all over the UK are decorating earlier than usual. So when I got a commission to do the same, I didn’t hesitate.

I was asked by Saga magazine to style a Christmas decorating feature at our house for the December 2020 issue. For many years, I have collected, been given or made decorations for our tree. Quirky and varied they may be but they all tell a story holding some treasured memories for me.

Saga magazine December 2020 issue on Charis White Interiors blog
Saga magazine December issue: Christmas 2020 in a bubble.

Topsy turvy Christmas

Back in September, our neighbours were well and truly foxed as our front door heaved with a Christmas wreath in the form of a styled bunch of foraged foliage from the garden. And perplexed further as a rather glorious 7-foot Nordman Fir was delivered by Dobbies Garden Centre.

Front door welcome with lanterns and Christmas bunch styled for Saga magazine by Charis White. Photo: Catherine Gratwicke.

Christmas front door

A bunch is easy to make. Just gather together foliage (I lop a few branches from the back of the Christmas tree as a base), with fircones and decorations tied with ribbons for a bit of front door cheer.

Bunch made from foliage from the Christmas tree and the garden, fir cones foraged on dog walks, faux fir cone decorations from IKEA and ribbons from John Lewis. Styled for Saga magazine by Charis White, Photography: Catherine Gratwicke.

Interiors photographer

Photographer Catherine Gratwicke is someone I have had the pleasure of working with many times before. We have been lucky enough to do shoots for Marie Claire, Homes & Antiques magazines, The Express and M&S. This has taken us to locations as varied as  theatre dressing rooms to the Royal Ballet school main ballet studio at White Lodge, Richmond Park.

Photographer Catherine Gratwicke photographing A Homemade Christmas for Saga magazine with stylist Charis White

I am a great believer in the positive power of creativity and of a bit of colour and light at Christmas. Although we weren’t staging Strictly at Elstree, it felt even more important this year to create a little uplifting inspiration for readers.

Socially distanced with windows open, we set about the task of producing a ‘Homemade Christmas’:

Faux real in the hall

Faux Christmas wreaths and garlands are an easy and cost-effective way of decorating. I like to add fresh foliage such as eucalyptus and rosemary for scent, threading through pussywillow twigs and wiring on extra large fir cones.

The hall is decorated with vintage antlers, The Vintage Look; faux wreath with fresh pussywillow added, Dobbies Garden Centre; garland on staircase, with additional large fircones wired in, The White Company; Styling for Saga magazine: Charis White, Photography: Catherine Gratwicke.
Vintage skates on staircase with tartan ribon from John Lewis styled by Charis White for Saga magazine. Photo: Charis White

Christmas tablescape with homemade crackers

Homemade crackers made from loo roll inners might bring a smile to the dinner table this year, as let’s face it, they have been a feature of 2020! Decorate with whatever paper and ribbons you can lay your hands on – newspaper works a treat. Pop in a joke, homemade paper hat and present. Doggies will appreciate the lack of a cracker!

Similar felt placemats available from Sainsburys Home. Homemade cracker from recycled loo roll (very much a feature of 2020!), decorated with leftover metallic crepe paper, sequin trimming and tissue paper; striped paper napkin, white linen tablecloth, IKEA; orange pomander pitted with cloves (love the scent of these and put them everywhere from the hall to mantlepieces); Scrabble letter name place; wine glasses from The Vintage List; Styled for Saga magazine by Charis White, Photographed by Catherine Gratwicke.

Christmas drinks table styling

The drinks table is decorated with a glass cake stand full of fresh orange pomanders (studded with cloves), lemons and limes. The papier mache Christmas pud is a treasured item which my son and I made together when he was little. It tends to be the vessel for the ritual of playing the ‘name game’ at Christmas.

Etched glass lantern from selection at The Corner Shop, Woollhampton; abstract oil painting (draped with fairy lights) is by the Cornish-based artist John Worton (Johnworton@hotmail.com for commissions); tree decorated with crackers from Sophie Allport; Styled by Charis White for Saga magazine, photographed by Catherine Gratwicke.

Christmas chandelier

Lampshade frame bound with coloured ribbons, hung with a paper tree decoration, glass chandelier drops and foliage from the garden. Styling by Charis White for Saga magazine, photography: Catherine Gratwicke

Winter fuel

In addition to the hardwood we get from a nearby Berkshire estate, I have recently been trialling Coffee Logs. These are densely packed logs made from coffee waste. They burn well (20% hotter and for 20% longer than kiln dried wood) and help to avoid the methane gas associated with coffee grounds that go into landfill. They are available in bags of 16 for £8.99 from various retailers including Waitrose. They work well but won’t be giving up wood entirely as I love the smell of it!

Reupholstered office chair, vintage sledge (just seen) used as Christmassy coffee table from a selection at Fanny’s Antiques. Photo: Charis White

Handmade Christmas stocking

Homemade gifts are just the best and this stocking was lovingly made by a friend several years ago.

Felt embroidered Christmas stocking beautifully made as a present by our friend Nikkii for our son when he was little. Photo: Charis White.
Vintage and beautifully patched frilled cushion by Rebecca’s Aix Home. Photo: Charis White

Christmas wrapping ideas

Ends of wallpaper rolls, newspapers, comics, packing paper and fabric all make fun and sustainable wrappings. With fabric, you can just knot it and add, like I did here, a vintage brooch as a finishing touch which also gives an extra present. I save and re-use ribbons and trimmings but would recommend John Lewis, Hobbycraft and Ebay for the giant ric rac.

Presents wrapped with newspapers, comics and Willow Bough wallpaper from the new Queen Square collection by Morris & Cox x Ben Pentreath; Other ends of wallpapers from Tissus D’Helene. Styled by Charis White, photography: Catherine Gratwicke.

Christmas tree 2020

The style ethos is a ‘more is more’ approach with an ecclectic selection of decorations from Christmas past. Some are made from cardboard cereal packets by our son (when he was a wee man) and others given by friends or made for photographic shoots. The linking river that runs through the tree this year is a garland of cheerful yellow jumbo ric rac.

Tree supplied by Dobbies.com for Saga magazine shoot styled by Charis White, Photography: Catherine Gratwicke.
This angel by Linda Miller Embroideries always makes me laugh with her lilac rinse. She is made from a 1930s embroidered tablecloth. Photo: Charis White

Giant Christmas bauble

In the 17th Century these giant glass baubles were called ‘witches balls’ in England and were hung to deter evil spirits and to protect a home from illness. This one hangs all year round in a darkish corner next to a gallery wall in our sitting room, I love how it reflects light and twinkles. At Christmas I add a swishy satin bow and a sprig of fresh holly. Similar reproductions like this are available from The Corner Shop, Woolhampton, Berkshire.

Light reflecting ‘witches ball’ next to gallery wall. Styling by Charis White for Saga magazine, photograpy: Catherine Gratwicke

Thank you

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this has inspired you a little.

P.s. You can rest assured that the decorations came down after the shoot but will be fully and joyfully reinstated soon. Ding dong.

With best wishes,

Charis x

Charis White, Interior stylist/writer. Photo: Fiona McLean Photography


6 thoughts on “Homemade Christmas decorating 2020

  1. Wonderful! I was reminded of the amazing job you did of ‘styling’ my pressies a couple of years ago and inspired on many fronts!


  2. Haha – I saved this for December and what a festive feast! Your house looks so 🎶 s’wonderful and s’marvellous! 🎶 You have given me lots of ideas! I can’t believe you are now going to do it all again! Happy Christmas 🎄🍾🥂 to you Alex and Angus! ❤️ 🌟🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make me laugh too Jo! Currently, the tree that was delivered for the shoot didn’t have any roots and I didn’t think it would last until Christmas anyway. H-o-w-e-v-e-r, it is still very much alive and fresh! It is outside the dining room doors and I have decorated it with lights and makes a rather lovely view cheering up grey afternoons. I am a bit worried that without roots the needles might drop as soon as I bring it inside so, we might opt for the view of the tree outside this year and enjoy decking the halls with foliage. A very Happy Christmas to you all too xxx


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