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Celebrating advent

Celebrating advent

We truly believe that the whole winter season deserves to be celebrated and the magic of Christmas extended far beyond a few days at the end of December. So, needless to say, we always take the opportunity to fully embrace the Advent tradition of noting each of the days from 1st December to Christmas Eve. This year, we’re also getting ready early (November always seems to fly by), with two Advent calendar ideas to inspire your own: one hands-on, homemade and statement-making; the other a chance to mark time’s passage in a slow and reflective way.

A statement display

Over the years, we’ve become quite well known for our branch installations suspended above Christmas Day tablescapes. Entwined in seasonal foliage and dripping with hanging ornaments and tealights, it’s a really impactful decorating idea that, we’re so pleased to see, lots of you have recreated in your own homes. So, this year, it’s something we also decided to carry through to other spaces in the home beyond just the dining table in the form of an Advent calendar. It is a project for when you’ve got a bit more time on your hands (which, it seems, many of us now do), but you’ll be left with not just an exciting way to count down the season, but also a striking decorative centrepiece.

  1. Begin by sourcing your branch. It doesn’t have to be quite so large as ours, or quite so straight (in fact, a twisty, gnarled branch would add lots of character), but do make sure it’s good and solid as it’ll need to take the weight of being hung and having presents suspended from it. We’ve used a birch trunk which brings more interest with its textural bark.
  2. Next, decide where you’re going to hang it. Any blank expanse of wall could work, but you’ll need to think about how you’ll hang your branch. A beam set close to the wall is ideal, but if you need to fix your branch directly into the ceiling, make sure it’s reinforced by a joist or beam behind. Another idea would be to attach curtain rod brackets to the wall and slot the branch onto these instead but, again, make sure the wall can take the weight.
  3. Now you’re ready to choose and wrap your presents. You’ll need at least 24, if not 25, of these depending on whether you want your calendar to go up to Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We’ve found it’s best if everything is wrapped in boxes for a neater look, and you’ll need to think about the balance of sizes so, once they’re all arranged along the branch, they’re not too crowded or too sparse. Part of the idea of this calendar is that, once you’ve taken down and opened a present each day, you replace it with a hanging decoration. We’ve placed a large bowl on a console table underneath to hold these in, but you could also choose to make your decorations the presents themselves. As for the wrappings, choose a selection of papers that’ll give you a coordinated but varied look. We’ve included both our Pepperberry and Winterberry papers which have similar Arts & Crafts-inspired botanical prints, and then used a mix of our velvet, silk and grosgrain ribbons. Finally, finish each present off with a numbered tag.
  4. Presents picked and wrapped, you’re ready to hang them up (you might find it easiest to hang the branch first then attach the presents). You’ll need something strong to hang the branch from (unless you’re using curtain brackets) – we’ve used a natural-coloured rope – but you can choose prettier ribbons for the presents. On ours we’ve used jute twine and our Ester ribbons. Make sure to hang your presents in a slightly random way, varying heights so they sit well together. A tip: if you need to hang your branch further from the wall and it’s swinging a little, you might find removable Command strips useful to secure it back to the wall.
  5. Last but not least, decorate your branch by winding life-like seasonal foliage (which will last all season long) and battery-powered fairy lights (hiding the batteries on the back of the branch with a little tape) along its length. We’ve chosen to use our Pine garland and Grosvenor lights.

A sweet and simple ritual

If you don’t have the opportunity or space for such an extravagant display, if you just want something easy and understated, or even if you want to celebrate this month to the fullest and do both, then our second idea might just be perfect for you.

All you’ll need is one of our Neva Advent candle holders (a small row of brass-coated houses, each numbered for the 24 days of Advent), a set of 24 miniature tapers (like our Forster set) and a box of matches (so much prettier and, with the fizz as they burst into flame and that evocative smell as they’re blown out, lovelier than a lighter). Then, simply place them on a mantel, windowsill, shelf or console table (you could also do the same thing with our Campden round holder, which would work well as a dining table centrepiece) and, each morning or evening of December, take a contemplative moment to light that day’s candle. A little quiet in the midst of the festive season.

You’ll now find our Christmas collection – from baubles and wrapping paper to candle holders – online here.

Tags: Christmas