So, it’s here, it’s finally happening. Christmas. That’s it now for the next few weeks – present buying, excess food ordering and getting the glitz out for all the Christmas parties. I dug out the Christmas decorations in preparation (though the tree is not going up for a little while yet) and it got me thinking about how I could introduce some more interesting decorations, drawing on Christmas traditions and locally made items from around the world. So if you’re interested in trying out something a little different for your Christmas decorating, this year or in the future, you’re in the right place.
I’m lucky that I don’t have to worry about the tree as I invested in a very nice artificial one from Balsam Hill that will serve us for many years. I know, I know, it’s not the same as a real one and doesn’t have that same pine fresh smell, but it is extremely well made, looks stunning when decorated and won’t drop pine needles all over the floor. All. The. Time.
But I digress…back to the decorations. I thought I would divide this post into different styles rather than different countries so it will be easier for you to identify what brings you festive based joy.
A Traditional Christmas Decorating Scheme
First up, I’ve opted for something traditional. Think natural elements, reds and whites, and lots of texture. You could possibly replace the word ‘traditional’ with ‘Scandinavian’, but as I’ve found a few other sources of inspiration that also meet the traditional brief I have tried not to do that. If Scandi is your thing however, I would start with by looking out for these gorgeous traditional Swedish decorations made out of wheat and straw. I love that these simple and natural materials can add such a wonderful statement to a traditional Christmas decorating scheme.
And a number of traditional German decorations also add a certain something to this look. The handmade nutcracker men are too adorable to resist! This handsome chap is from erzgebirgepalace.com – a German website that specialises in traditional handcrafted items.
The traditional style of Christmas decorating is so popular year after year, that there are pieces available to suit every budget. Wooden hand-carved decorations tend to be on the pricier side, though the fact that they are hand-carved, that each one will therefore be different, and that by buying them you will likely be supporting local craft-makers, should be enough to justify any additional cost.
Of course, if you really are on a tight budget, the traditional look also works well with decorations that you can make yourself and involve the kids. My good friend, Eva (who brought us the very excellent Definitive Guide to Scandinavian Interiors) made the star decorations below – these are a key part of Danish Christmas decorating, though I confess that I still can’t fathom how to make them myself. And they are providing the perfect accompaniment to the advent candle that she bought for me and that serves as an excellent Scandi alternative to the advent calendar. As you light the candle every day rather than open a door and eat a chocolate, I view this as a calorie conscious Christmas choice…!
If you fancy going down the home-made route, there are a ga-zillion DIY Christmas decoration posts on the net, though I will point you in the direction of hestershandmadehome.com and her excellent tutorial on making fabric Christmas decorations that would be truly perfect for a traditional decorating scheme.
Lastly, whilst we’re talking traditional, make sure that you don’t discount decorations from further afield, like from India. The red and white baubles in the shot below, are part of the Scandi Snow range from Bollywood Christmas, and would make an excellent addition to a traditional scheme, despite being anything but. Personally, I’d be hanging up that elephant bauble for a cheeky statement. Handmade by local families in Kashmir, Firozabad and Delhi in India, these decorations are ethically produced and help to ensure ongoing employment for traditional artisans in these regions. Whilst you can’t buy from Bollywood Christmas direct, their site has a wide range of UK suppliers so there is bound to be one in your area.
A Multi-Coloured Christmas Decorating Scheme
For those of you who want something bolder and braver, and just a little bit different, how about indulging in a multi-coloured theme to really give your Christmas tree the wow factor. As brights can often be a little overpowering in decorating schemes, we tend to shy away from them for fear of judgment from others with more sensitive tastes. But no more! Christmas is the perfect time to fully indulge in your passion for colour without anyone being able to judge you. And done right, a multi-coloured Christmas scheme can look super stylish as well as winning you respect from your peers who will see your tree and wish they’d done the same!
As before, Bollywood Christmas has an excellent range of colour-popping baubles across their collections. And namaste-uk.com also offers extremely reasonably priced, fair-trade and ethically sourced hand-painted, papier mache, baubles to give your tree some eye-popping flair.
In my quest for Christmas tree brights, I also came across some excellent decoration ideas from as far afield as Mexico. How’s that for a bit of global inspiration!? Decorations made from tin are a big feature of Mexican Christmas schemes and I love their quirkiness, not to mention their cheerful bright colours!
How about these absolutely stunning painted tin bird decorations from Milagros.co.uk? This Mexican shop on Columbia Road, London, is a new find of mine and offers a wide range of Mexican traditional products, including some amazing decorative tiles, handblown glass and folk art. I’m hooked!
My last bit of inspiration for a global take on a multi-coloured maximalist scheme, is in the form of these excellent globe decorations from www.notonthehighstreet.com. Perfect for intrepid travellers and they also add a touch of colour too – super!
A Minimalist Christmas Decorating Scheme
At the other end of the spectrum is the minimalist Christmas scheme. Much more about geometrics, using metals and pared down decorations to create a calm and sophisticated space in which to wolf down the Quality Street. Again, a lot of the Scandi Christmas decorations fit this brief. Below is a little selection of what I’d be going for in a minimalist scheme.
Don’t think that you have to go down the Scandi route if you’re tempted by a chic, minimalist scheme, however. I’ve found some beautiful pieces from as far afield as Africa that are both stunning and ethical for a double bonus.
These African beaded Christmas decorations lend a global nudge to an otherwise minimalist decorating scheme. Handmade by a group of Zulu women in a remote village in Northern South Africa, these decorations are made using traditional bead-working techniques that have been passed on from generation to generation, resulting in beautifully delicate and unique Christmas ornaments.
Evoke Africa also sells a range of stunning beaded decorations from South Africa, working with a fair trade supplier in Cape Town, called Streetwise, which offers permanent employment to over 60 artists. This gorgeous silver wire and bead bauble would fit in well with a minimalist Christmas tree scheme. And I also love this soapstone star ornament which can be hung with a simple piece of twine, and which would work with a wide variety of Christmas decorating schemes.
So there you have it. Three great looks, all incorporating a little global style to make your Christmas an international affair and to hopefully give you a bit of inspiration to consider putting something a bit different on the tree this year. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece as much as I have researching it. I think I may try a different theme every year, and I will certainly be investing in some more global Christmas decorating treasures, like this porcelain hand-painted bauble that I picked up in Warsaw, Poland, last year and which I layered up in bubble wrap and basically cuddled throughout the whole plane journey home in case it got broken…
I love the detailing on this hand-painted ceramic bauble from Poland – it reminds me of our trip when we hang it on the tree.
How about you? Do you think you’ll consider a different style of decorating this year? Or do you already incorporate a range of styles and influences into your Christmas decorating scheme. Do get in touch either way as I would love to hear from you!
Happy travels and shopping,