There is no doubt in my mind that this year has left a mark of some kind on every person alive, whether they know it or not. The tearing down of expectations, the fear, the loss of lives and connection has been difficult to say it mildly. But just like the bushfires of earlier this year, new life and hope follows. New seeds of an idea may grow and connections reform strengthened by their separation, while other things are lost to the wind as is the way of life. With borders re-opening across Australia, loved ones are eagerly returning home for Christmas. The longing for an embrace, the scent of a well known Christmas treat in the oven, a cold beer by the BBQ and a few laughs to soften the blow of the hardships endured. Christmas time offers hope that there is better to come and we should in turn, give in to this idea because hope is what drives us forward.
So it is time to re-enact longstanding traditions and possibly find some new ones as well. Even when times are tough there are small touches that will embed memories for years to come because Christmas is about more than a tree laden with gifts. My husband and I absolutely understand the difficulty of hosting Christmas with scant funds. I remember quite clearly agreeing to host a Christmas before realising we had no tree and very little money for food. I asked our guests to bring a plate of food, foraged for a fallen branch to be our tree and used white paper to create giant snow flakes. It felt just like Christmas. In part because of my decorations, but mostly because of the people who gathered around us to celebrate.
This year we are fortunate enough to have a living Christmas tree in our home and I have felt so grateful to experience the scent I have only ever read about. If you would like to have a little bit of that magical real tree feeling without the expense, gather a cutting of pine tree from a friends tree and pop it in a bucket of water with decorations. Hang a sprig of pine from your door or gate or lay it as a garland along your dining table. It is a simple beautiful touch. I love to decorate mine with old favourite decorations, handmade paper decorations, or gum nuts painted white.
Captivate your guests with a beautiful table ready for a feast. Collect your plates, matching or not, and layer them up with linen. Vary the height of your tablescape using candles set up high, cake stands filled with fruit or decorations hung from the ceiling. Serve your meat selection on a bed of greenery with sliced fruit such as thyme and orange for a fresh, decadent look. Candles or jars filled with twinkle lights mixed with vases of greenery will delight guests while joyful notes clipped to tiny rosemary wreaths or written on a gum leaf lift spirits.
If you’re giving gifts this year, remember that a gift from the heart is often so much more valuable in a world filled with consumerism. Consider the handmade option, the gift of donating to a charity or a baked gift. Or do you have the ability to help someone by clearing a garden bed for them, babysitting the kids for a day or teaching them a new skill. Be generous with your wrapping of gifts using ribbon, gathered gum nuts or a sprig of rosemary. If you’re aiming to be more sustainable wrap gifts in a beautiful tea towel or an eco-friendly wrap from Flora & Fauna.
Christmas is a time for sharing more than just gifts and food. It is a time to share our thoughts, memories, a hug or hope. So this Christmas, why not ask your loved ones to share a favourite Christmas memory, a special moment from the year or a hope for the year to come. Join together to cook soul nourishing meals or string popcorn garlands and paper chains with wishes for each other. Generate conversation and grow your closeness with your loved ones.
Ok lovely! I know the year has not been what you expected, however it can be special in its own right. Seek out the happiness and hope of the Christmas season by offering it to others. Merry Christmas. Bec xo
Photography by the talented Trish Anderson
I'd love to stay in touch so I can share ideas on how we can improve our corner of the world through design.