For many, Christmas this year will be fraught with special considerations. Careful socialising, elements of shielding and meeting outdoors for brisk, wintry walks are still very much on the cards for the Covid-conscious. From intimate drinks receptions with friends to the proceedings of the big day with extended family, I know I’m not the only one who will feel keenly the lack of certain family members. No part of the festive season, no matter how much chocolate and champagne is readily available, will beat the sheer thrill of spending time with those you love, but as ever, there are some meaningful updates you can make to your home to create magical, festive moments no matter the turn out.
The very first consideration for creating memorable Christmas moments should be glassware, so says celebrity and royal party planner, Johnny Roxburgh. Having planned over 9,000 parties, the self-proclaimed “party architect” has partnered with homewares company Habitat to guide its customers through the festive period in style – party or no party. “Google searches for at-home cocktails surge at this time of year,” he says. “To make sure you make the most of your homemade concoctions, ensure your drinks are served in the correct glassware. This means long drinks in a hi-ball and martini glasses for martinis.” He caveats these hard and fast rules with one exception: that sparkling wines and champagne can be served in coupes as well as flutes. And with the resurgence of coloured glass and alternative shapes from companies like LSA International, Summerhill & Bishop and Campbell Rey X Laguna B, you can put your own twist on family favourites. For Roxburgh, the taste of Christmas morning is his breakfast martini, made with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and thick-cut marmalade.
Christmas evenings at home with the family require cosy, flattering lighting to bring a festive warmth to your interiors. Layering floor and table lamps to create pockets of warmth, rather than using one central source of light, will allow you to control the ambience and create a more interesting, considered lighting scheme. Interior designer Matthew Williamson believes that setting the mood for a festive soiree rests entirely on the lighting you choose. “Forget about using one main lighting source in favour of illuminating a few lamps around the room,” he says. “This way, you can be more flexible with what you intend to light. For example, a reading corner would benefit from an elegant swan-neck wall light, while a piece of art would look spectacular on the wall between two table lamps on a credenza or sideboard.” The designer’s recent collaboration with lighting company Pooky offers an industry-leading, super-stylish table lamp to elevate any lighting scheme. The Phileas lamp is rechargeable and totally wireless, meaning you needn’t worry about locating the nearest plug socket, and it can easily light the Christmas table, the kitchen island or even the patio.
Lastly, a foolproof step towards creating delightfully festive moments at home is fragrancing. “I always think of the total aesthetic and the mood I want to create,” says Michelle Feeney, founder of fragrance company Floral Street. For Michelle, it’s the olfactory choices that prove to enhance your surroundings, complementing your visual efforts with a clean yet seasonal candle or diffuser. “Smell is the strongest trigger for memories and enhances the moment,” she says. “So think about the mood you want to create yourself at home. For me, I like to feel like I’ve been given a huge bunch of flowers when I get home, so I light a candle in the hallway and set up a matching diffuser.”
The most evocative festive fragrances combine fir and eucalyptus, sweet orange and clove bud or vanilla and cinnamon. Skincare and fragrance company Malin+Goetz has a decadently aromatic candle called “dark rum” with notes of rum, anise and vanilla, while Dyptique’s holiday collection brings scents of biscuit and mimosa to the festive palette. For a more economic approach, homewares company Muji offers a vast range of scented candles with the token cosy, minimalistic approach associated with its stores. Its “log fire” tin candle has built up something of a cult following, its fans claiming it makes their home feel like a highland cabin. I’ll have what they’re having…