Festive façade - getting your home Christmas ready
It's high time to get your home holiday-ready
I'm certain there's at least a few of you who already have Christmas lights strung around the tree in the front garden and a plastic Santa perched on the roof with his eight charming reindeer leading the way. But for the rest of us who are only kicking into holiday high gear now that the big day is less than four weeks away, here is a dose of serious festive inspiration!
To get your home looking worthy of a visit from Saint Nicolas himself - not to mention all those friends and family who are bound to come knocking this December - start with the perfect wreath. Add some bling to your front garden with twinkling fairy lights and adorn outdoor branches with baubles of their own.
1 Right Wreath
Start with a great wreath for your entrance, making sure to choose the right size and colours to complement your door colour. Read our wreath tips from top florist Ruth Monaghan at Appassionata in Dublin (see top right).
Buy it: Holly and ivy wreath, €15 from Homebase
2 Window Sparkle
The absolute best thing about winter is that it's an excuse for lighting as many candles as possible. Add a little sparky decor to both the inside of your home and the outside by placing a few sweet tea light holders in your front windowsills. Enjoy them while you sit by a cosy fire, and your neighbours will enjoy a little twinkle as they walk by each night. Use LED tea lights and you can leave them lit for hours.
Buy it: Porcelain tea light holder, €8 from HomeSense at TK Maxx
3 Bright Baubles
Twinkling fairy lights are the perfect addition to your garden, but adding a few unexpected baubles on your trees or shrubs will elicit daytime smiles around the neighbourhood. Make sure you choose baubles that can withstand Ireland's wet, wild and blustery winter weather. Baubles with moving parts or delicate paint aren't hardy enough for the outdoors. Instead, opt for metal baubles or even bells, that have a little sparkle or colour to stand out from the hedges. Ensure they stay put outdoors by tying them to a branch with a little piece of twine or florist's wire.
Buy it: Sleigh bell Christmas baubles, €16 for a set of 10, dotcomgiftshop.com
4 Light Up
We love the idea of spicing up traditional front garden fairy lights a little. Try different shaped lights, like these sweet tree-shaped lights from M&S. Or you could loop plain bulbs back and forth overhead like French bistro lights. Just set a timer to turn them off, lest you keep the neighbourhood awake all night!
Buy it: Tree lights, €20 from Marks & Spencer
5 Dressy Door Mat
I love the idea of greeting guests with a holiday door mat during the festive season. This affordable wintry mat festooned with penguins is great for scuffing muddy boots. And since it's wintry rather than just Christmassy, it can even stick around well past the holidays and into the new year, giving your January and February guests a little extra cheer.
Buy it: Penguin door mat, €12 from Next
6 Lovely Lanterns
Hosting a holiday party at your home? Add a little extra sparkle to the evening and welcome guests with a path lined with lanterns. When the party's over, the lanterns can sit in the entryway and get lit for Christmas Eve and Christmas night. These blue metal lanterns from Aldi will work for a party in any season. Let them greet guests for a winter soiree, then move them to the back garden for a summer fête.
Buy it: Metal lanterns, €8.99 from Aldi
It's time to ring in the holidays, and florist Ruth Monahan from Appassionata in Dublin has a few tips for making sure you have the right wreath hanging from your door.
"It's worth it to buy a ready-made pine or foliage base and then layer on top to save you time and money on materials. Don't be afraid of looking at your own garden for lovely foliage to add into your wreath. Think of wreath-making as cooking: it's good to prepare all of your ingredients - such as berries, cinnamon, fruits, foliage and mosses - first. Use everything you have of each element before starting to add the next one on top." And don't forget a beautiful bow to finish off your creation. "I love a double knot of mixed rich reds in a luxurious velvet," says Ruth. "This year burnished gold and copper are very on-trend and always add a warmth." For information on Appassionata's wreath-making workshops, see appassionata.ie