In past years, normal was often synonymous with boring. But now our times are so abnormal, we increasingly hanker after things we previously took for granted: not so much technology as nature, personal greetings and meaningful presents. As the year comes to an end, many of us will be looking for a big dollop of normality to help us celebrate a simply lovely Christmas, as we look back (and forward) to more carefree times.
Is everything different now?
When satsumas appear in the shops and the shelves fill with sweet Christmas treats, we know it’s time to prepare for the festivities at home. Perhaps this year, when we are all living and working differently, it’s a good opportunity to rethink our Christmas traditions? Bearing in mind that we are all now aware of how important it is to protect our climate, is it still a good idea to decorate our houses with things that will soon be thrown away? Decorating with objects made of natural materials like wood, glass, straw, linen and sheepskin has always worked really well. They provide a cosy, homely atmosphere.
This year more than ever, understated and subtle are our decorating watchwords, as we slightly move away from glitz and glamour. These contemporary-looking Christmas baubles by Clayre & Eef and the star-shaped Christmas lamp from Inmark fit the bill with their popular retro look – also the new ornaments from humanitarian aid project Made51. In these days of coronavirus, even homemade decorations take on a meaning all of their own.
Blooming Christmas displays
Besides baubles and Christmas stars, floral arrangements also play a traditional role in our annual Christmas decorations – think wreaths and mistletoe, but also dried flower arrangements. This year’s winter collection from Dutch manufacturer Silk-ka presents abundant handmade silk flowers in various shades of red. Even pampas grass, as currently featured in every decor outlet, takes on a pinky-red hue at Silk-ka. This colour enhances the grass’s fluffy feathering, adding an instant celebratory flourish to traditional bouquets and dried flower arrangements all year round.
Candles create a Christmas atmosphere
In many countries around the world, the Christmas period begins with the lighting of the first candle on the advent crown. Besides the traditional use of lights as a symbol of hope and to ward off evil spirits, these flickering candles create a cosy mood no artificial light source can rival. And because creating the right Christmas atmosphere is so important, there are no limits to the imagination when it comes to candles and accessories such as matches and candleholders. Candles can be calming, romantic or celebratory. If you’re after something more striking, we recommend Rice’s shaped sparklers to add a little magic. These diffusers by Bloomy Lotus are a lovely alternative to conventional scented candles: they have essential oils on volcanic rock inside them. Berlin firm JewelCandle has cooperated with Belgian YouTuber Lufy to design an original candle called Lilac Cotton: its black glass shroud emits an unusual light, while the wax will melt away to reveal either a pair of earrings or a bracelet.
No Christmas without presents
Sooner or later, most people will be plagued by the annual question of what Christmas presents to buy. In turbulent and uncertain times like these, a personal touch will really count. But equally we can be guided by the general trend towards gifts with a tactile aspect, made from natural materials.
How about a cushion that uses a photo of yours as a template? Or tiny, hand-knitted ‘gifts’ made by Titicaca from South America, with joyous colours to enliven any table setting?
Since we spend so much time within our own four walls, Christmas presents for the home take on a whole new importance. Relaxing bath products or simple storage containers – which may previously have seen as unimaginative – now seem carefully chosen. The ‘Crack’ blanket by Munich label zoeppritz since 1828 might make for an especially unique gift, as its shimmering surface will form small cracks with use, giving it an antique look as it ages. Berlin sports equipment supplier Kenko offers an especially luxurious range, focusing both on design and quality materials such as walnut.
Children are spending longer at home too, so why not keep them entertained with this set of board games, a chocolate advent calendar or a handmade doll from Made51, who support refugees around the world?
Christmas means new tableware
At least there is some good news: we’ll have time at home over Christmas to indulge in a hobby that has found lots of new fans recently. When it comes to cooking and baking for your Christmas guests, why not mix it up a bit and try something new? How about serving Italian liqueur instead of mulled wine. Or perhaps bake your own biscuits, adding a star print from a special rolling pin? You could swap traditional Christmas baubles for fabulous, pearl-encrusted ornaments. Or even avoid felling a tree altogether, and use a recyclable paper tree like this one from Studio Carmela Bogman?
Talking about lovely Christmas tableware, contemporary understatement can be achieved in place of glitz and glamour with this Joyn range from Arzberg. It offers minimalist porcelain and stylish details, while oak plates and dishes add rustic charm to the collection.
Wishing you a simply lovely Christmas
As travelling isn’t so straightforward, many of us will celebrate Christmas in a smaller-than-usual circle of family and friends. This makes it more important than ever to show our affection for others even though it may have to be from a distance: perhaps with a small gift, wrapped in beautiful paper and accompanied by a personalized postcard.
These greetings cards by Moya Birch Bark are a top tip. The stencils with Christmas motifs made of birch bark can be pressed out and tinkered and provide a warm, natural contrast to the traditional glass baubles and pine needles. It’s very timely to turn back to forgotten traditions and customs – so why not take the opportunity to write a letter by hand or bring a discarded board game down from the loft? Who knows, it might just be the simple things that make this Christmas especially lovely.