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Neptune's Christmas spirit

By our creative director, Emma Sims-Hilditch

Christmas at Neptune is a little different to what other companies do. We’re quieter, our colour palette is much shyer, and our whole tone is one of peace. Like with everything we do, our festivities are rooted in two things: nature and elegance. And perhaps because Christmas is a time when other brands might get carried away, by staying true to who we really are, that elegance is felt all the more.

This is Christmas, the Neptune way.

Emma’s Christmas interior design notes

Warm, welcoming, imaginative, pared-back, heart-warming, effortless. These are all words that I’ve heard people use to describe our Neptune Christmas scenes. And I think they’re all quite true. The one sentiment that’s missing there though is, easy. All of our designs have been created to promise you effortlessness, so that you know no matter how busy you are, it will all come together in the end. Not only that, we want you to be able to recreate what you see in our photoshoots, because nothing is more frustrating than seeing something spectacular that you’ll never be able to make yourself.

Nature underpins all of our Christmas interior schemes. The furniture of course plays a key role, but we accentuate the natural textures and tones by bringing in quite a large amount of foraged bits and bobs.

Step outside

A weekend afternoon spent with our families in the great outdoors becomes all the more joyful when you’re tasked with amassing fallen fir cones, knobbly sticks and crooked twigs to bring back home. We’ll then mix them in with some of our wonderfully life-like sprigs and stems to create an arrangement that’s full of earthy tones.

A nod to our European neighbours

As a little girl I remember visiting a friend who lived in Germany and being mesmerised by the Christmas markets. At Neptune we’re inspired by the Christmas scenes seen in countries like Germany and Switzerland, but we borrow aspects rather than the entire very-merry theme.

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Wreaths for indoors as well as out

I just love using wreaths inside. Our very clever stylists will sometimes make a wreath using real foliage and berries to hang from outside doors, but when it comes to our interiors, you’ll spy the more practical (and very pretty) life-like wreaths. I like to use one on dark or heavily textured walls, or at the end of a very long hallway so you see it as you walk along, or down the staircase towards it. Tradition tells us the wreath belongs on the front door, and while we agree with that, we very much believe it has a place behind closed doors too.

The tree

The Christmas tree can be a bit of a conundrum for many homes. Faux fir feels like you’re cheating somehow, but if they’re a more practical option for you then we say you should feel perfectly happy and confident with your choice of tree. Even as huge fans of all things natural, we also think practicality is key to our homes feeling happy. I try to create balance with our Christmas interiors by using a beautifully bushy life-like fir and then buying offcuts from real ones to use for decoration so you can still capture that lovely pine smell. And because at Neptune we love to decorate all aspects of our homes in the subtlest of ways, these branches are perfect for draping over mantels, dressers, or photo frames hung from our walls. Or I might get an extra, smaller real tree to use in an outdoor space.

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Emma’s advent tree

The advent tree is a really fun thing to create and is a refreshing alternative to the typical advent calendar. I’ll use a miniature Christmas tree and make little advent parcels to hang from the branches using wrapping paper and twine. Then each day when a parcel is plucked, you replace it with a decoration. This is the tree from which I’ll hang all of the crumpled heirloom decorations that I don’t want to throw away but aren’t quite to my taste anymore. Even though my children are all grown up now, they still absolutely adore our little advent tree.

Nature’s palette and varied texture creates an offbeat kind of elegance; it’s familiar, varied and therefore a little informal. But we build on that elegance by allowing ourselves to be creative with our displays.

The loveliest lighting

Christmas lighting can go one of two ways: over the top and squinty bright, or soft and twinkly. Christmas lighting at Neptune is about the latter. So we created fairy lights that can be battery-powered or joined together to create one super long string, as well as a collection of candles that encourages us to mix things up.

Lighting is such a simple way to achieve magic, like a strand of fairy lights and a cluster of snowy fir cones within a glass jarstood in the kitchen, or weaving their blinking bulbs through the top layer of logs in a log basket. The same goes for the romance of candlelight. The design team and I wanted a really fun array of tealight holders, candlesticks and hurricane lanterns so your festive lighting is an exciting, eclectic mix.  I think it looks quite breath-taking when it’s black outside and biting cold and you walk into a room that has a beautiful wave of ‘up- and down-ness’ of candlelight. By mixing colours, shapes and sizes of candles and holders it’s almost reminiscent of music notes on a page.

Make an entrance

I often talk about how important it is to treat the hallway as a room, because it’s the first thing that will greet not just guests, but you and your family, day in day out. So at Christmas time we make a spectacle of our entryways so that you have plenty of ideas to steal.

The easiest place to start is the staircase. Spindles and banisters call out to be adorned with all things festive, but it’s really fun to experiment with different ideas. We try something new every year but there’s always greenery. This year we’ve used red berries and the tiniest amount of fairy lights. It’s important to not go overboard.

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Wrap up

Present wrapping is very much a part of the decorating process too. Gifts under the tree is such an enchanting spectacle. My mum is the most incredible gift-wrapper and would often use rolls of wallpaper that she’d stashed away to wrap our childhood presents. I try to think of present wrapping like she did. Each year I’ll block a day out in my diary to wrap all my gifts. It brings me such joy and it’s lovely to not have a last-minute rush. But for when plans go awry, we designed wrapping paper that will mean that no matter what happens, your presents can be hugged in something sophisticated.

Bake and display

At home, we bake so many mince pies every December. We just adore them. It’s what made me wonder what else we could do with them, because they’re one of Christmas’s most celebrated motifs. So I’ll make a few spare and I’ll use them to display in glass jars too, replacing them each week in the run up to Christmas. Sometimes I’ll write a little tag that says ‘help yourself’ because everybody feels welcome when there are edible decorations around!

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These are but a few of the ideas that I cherish the most and that help to illustrate what Christmas at Neptune is all about. I hope that our imagery fuels your imaginations, that our stories explain our festive thinking, and that our stores help you to bring it all together.

The Christmas collection
From fir tree to fairy lights