Any host no matter her or his affection for Christmas will have to make a festive nod in the direction of a seasonal spruce up, guests expect it. The problem I find is filling your home with items that only get used once a year, plus I find the whole process of packing up Christmas rather gloomy. Regular readers of this column will know from previous years my various tricks to minimise this ordeal. For example, I have a very realistic fold up tree pre-lit tree tied with lots of contrasting spotty, striped and checked bows that just has to be pulled from its box and plumped up.
The initial time invested in this was extraordinary but it has been paying dividends ever since. Another great idea is to collect items for your tree throughout the year, these do not have to be Christmas specific for example the bird salt and pepper pots pictured here, at a post-Christmas party invite guests to choose a gift from the tree to take home with them.
If a tree is too much hassle there is no better way to welcome guests than with a door wreath and if you get one from a local florist it can go into the compost, rather than the back of the loft, on Twelfth Night. Make sure you check for wires etc before composting. Similarly, fir fronds look beautiful tied on the hand rails of banisters and laid along the centre of a table. Add a splash of colour with orange pomanders, oranges studded with dried cloves, or scattered mandarins.
If you have children start a Christmas tradition of making paper chains, you can buy these from A J Farmers on Lordship Lane. They may be old-fashioned but they have that classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ charm, the making process keeps the little ones quiet for a few hours and they go in the recycling!
It is not only the decorations, the table accoutrements that take up valuable storage space too, what do you do with that Spode Christmas Tree dinner service the other 364 days of the year? Use foil A4 card as party placemats, tree ornaments with luggage tags as place card markers and our old favourite the paper chain as disposable napkin rings.
Buy some artists pallets from the Art Stationers in Dulwich Village and you will have the perfect super-stylish serving board for cheese and crackers that stores super flat throughout the year – I slide mine in undetectably between the Christmas cookery books.
Lawrence Roullier White writes the Hectic Host for SE22.
This feature first appeared in the December 2015 issue of SE22 magazine.