Your most stylish Christmas yet: 5 tips for chic, low-cost festive decor

Stylist Shelley Street is a fan of creative low-cost decor ideas that have a big visual impact. She shares her ideas for creating a jolly — and sustainable — holiday vibe

19 December 2018 - 00:00 By Mandy Allen/Bureaux
Christmas crackers made from brown Kraft paper and shweshwe fabric.
Christmas crackers made from brown Kraft paper and shweshwe fabric.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

1. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Don’t overthink it when styling your Christmas table and tree. Choose the colours and elements that you love and layer them together.

Don’t be too serious about what you are trying to achieve — friends and family will always appreciate your efforts and enjoy eating at a beautiful table, but in the end it’s about relationships, good company and great food more than anything else.

2. OPT FOR NEUTRAL COLOURS

Pare down colour to neutral tones and incorporate texture where you can — found objects from nature are an effective way to do this.

I love the idea of using things out of context: a bracelet as a napkin holder, for example. I am also fond of wooden and bone serving utensils and vessels.

Cheap drinking glasses were given a luxe ‘dipped effect’: masking tape was used to demarcate a neat line before the glasses were sprayed with gold spray paint.
Cheap drinking glasses were given a luxe ‘dipped effect’: masking tape was used to demarcate a neat line before the glasses were sprayed with gold spray paint.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
A clash of texture and pattern: bone salad servers and rock salt in a textured tapas bowl on a beaded placemat and woven fabric runner.
A clash of texture and pattern: bone salad servers and rock salt in a textured tapas bowl on a beaded placemat and woven fabric runner.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
Creative low-cost ideas can have a big visual impact, like these simple white pillar candles wrapped in brown butcher’s paper.
Creative low-cost ideas can have a big visual impact, like these simple white pillar candles wrapped in brown butcher’s paper.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
A beaded necklace is a playful substitute for a napkin ring.
A beaded necklace is a playful substitute for a napkin ring.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

3. UPCYCLE

Think sustainably and give old things a new identity. I like to upcycle old objects and glass containers using spray paint.

I also enjoy wrapping gifts in newspaper, brown Kraft or butcher’s paper and fabric the way they do in Japan (called furoshiki). I’m partial to newspaper from the Asian supermarkets and the salmon pink tinge of the Financial Times. There is so much in our homes and gardens that is readily available to incorporate into our decorating.

Painted white, this a small Karoo thorn tree makes a striking Christmas tree.
Painted white, this a small Karoo thorn tree makes a striking Christmas tree.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
Simple wreath made of twigs painted white.
Simple wreath made of twigs painted white.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
Dress up homemade food gifts with fabric covers, tied with hemp string and embellished with a tree ornament.
Dress up homemade food gifts with fabric covers, tied with hemp string and embellished with a tree ornament.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux
Gifts wrapped in a mix of graphic store-bought wrapping paper and fabric, an idea inspired by the Japanese practice of furoshiki.
Gifts wrapped in a mix of graphic store-bought wrapping paper and fabric, an idea inspired by the Japanese practice of furoshiki.
Image: Warren Heath/Bureaux

4. CANDLES, CANDLES, CANDLES

Candles. Candles. And more candles. Preferably all in white and at different heights and widths. I love fragranced candles for this time of the year: cinnamon, vanilla, pine, woody and amber notes. I also love quality incense and limited-edition room sprays (JoMalone always has the most gorgeous special festive range).

5. FAIRY LIGHTS

Fairy lights are central to my festive decorating. I use lots of them in the fireplace (December in SA is sizzling hot so it’s the only action the fireplace sees) and draped around the large door frame of my living room. We spend lots of time eating outdoors in summer so there are loads of solar fairy lights in my potted trees — they create a magical ambience.


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