Santa’s little helpers
Give visitors a festive first impression.
1. Your front entrance will receive plenty of attention throughout the entertaining season so ensure it’s looking its best by cleaning the windows and sweeping and washing down the veranda, recommended Colleen Sheehan of Weeding Women.
2. Flowers in festive colours add a lovely holiday feel and can distract from areas that are in need of some TLC.
“Plant red and white potted colour en masse around the front door, driveway and pathway, ” Ms Sheehan said.
3. Weeding the front garden was a must. “There is only one way to get rid of weeds and that is to physically remove them, ” Ms Sheehan said.
“Pull them out, and prong the soil so it is fluffy and light.”
4. It’s not too late for a wreath — Claire Baker, of Claire Baker Interior Design, suggested making your own using greenery from the garden.
ON THE TABLE
Creating a memorable table setting can be as simple as looking at what you already have around the house and garden.
5. Stuck for centrepiece ideas? Ms Baker said small bottles filled with flowers picked from the garden looked gorgeous arranged in a line down the centre of the table.
“Even nice glasses filled with daisies or roses can look amazing, ” she said.
6. For another inexpensive centrepiece idea, interior stylist Lisa Ewart, from Collected Interiors, suggested gathering up empty jam jars and filling them with tea light candles. “Or you could put pillar candles in empty wine bottles . . . anything like that, en masse, looks fab, ” she said.
7. Use up any leftover baubles that didn’t make it on to the tree by turning them into a hanging centrepiece, said Table Culture’s Emma McCarthy.
This was a great alternative to traditional centrepieces because it not only looked amazing but freed up space on the table.
“Suspend baubles or decorations from the ceiling, lights or even from branches and then add small candles and vases with flowers on the table that tie in with the colour theme, ” she said.
8. Get crafty and use bits and pieces from around the house to create your own centrepiece display.
Ms McCarthy suggested gilding fruit such as pears (use gold spray paint, available from hardware and craft stores, or gold leaf, from craft and art supply stores). “They look decadent against red cherries on a tiered cake stand, a footed comport, under a glass cloche tied with ribbon or even on each napkin, ” she said.
Corner Store’s Caroline Thew suggested making snow domes by gluing ornaments or mementos on the inside of jar lids. “Fill the jars with water, a dash of glycerine and a sprinkling of glitter; screw on the lids and stack them up to make a special homemade Christmas centrepiece, ” she said.
Left your festive decorating to the last minute? Don’t panic.
9. Kellie Brooks, interior stylist from Collected Interiors, said if you had paper you could make just about anything. “(You could make) a string of white angels or an origami Santa with his reindeers . . . cut (paper) into triangles and stick them on the wall as a tree. Then it can all be recycled when Christmas is over, ” she said.
Make bunting, suggested Ms Baker — cut out triangles from good-quality paper and hang with string.
10. Fresh flowers hide a lot of sins. “(Use) flowers everywhere . . . in a fresh wreath on the door to greet visitors, in small vintage jars and bottles, or a single bud tucked into the ribbon on a gift, ” Ms Brooks said.
11. Fragrance added the finishing touch, said Ms Harvey, so pick up a festive- fragranced candle or diffuser.
Make the rellies feel at home with a warm and welcoming guestroom.
12. Clear away clutter, clean out some drawers and leave empty hangers in the hanging space, recommended Lynda Armstrong, of Dial-An-Angel Perth.
13. Guests appreciate an inviting bed. If your spare bed is an ensemble, Ms Baker said European pillows could be used as a makeshift bedhead by creating height at the back of the bed.
“Work down with some normal pillows, add a throw cushion, and before your guests arrive, place a nice towel folded on the bed, ” she said.
14. Ms Armstrong said it was nice to provide guests with a makeshift laundry basket. You should also place a clock in the room so guests knew what time it was when they woke up.
Even if you’re short on time, some quick housekeeping jobs can make a big difference.
15. “Focus on cleaning the areas of the home that the guests will spend time in, ” Ms Armstrong said. Start by de-cluttering the hallway, shaking out doormats and checking for cobwebs.
16. Getting out the dusty glassware? Give them a clean using broken eggshells, suggested Ms Armstrong. “Drop crushed shells in the bottle, add warm water and a drop of dishwashing liquid, and give it a good swirl.”
If you are planning on entertaining outdoors, spruce up your alfresco area with these quick fixes.
17. Outdoor setting seen better days? Update it with a few bright outdoor cushions, suggested landscape designer Sarah Head, from Outside In.
18. Ms Baker said lanterns looked great day and night. “Gathered up under a market umbrella is a great formation.”
19. Decorate potted plants, suggested Caroline Mazza from Wandilla Garden & Gift Centre, by wrapping pots with a bow and adding small Christmas tree ornaments to the foliage.
20. The barbecue is often a last-minute thought, said Habitat gardening columnist Trevor Cochrane, but a heavy-duty clean with a degreaser to remove excess fat and then a metal polisher would have it looking fantastic.
“And don’t forget gas — too often the bottle runs out midway through cooking. Grab a spare gas bottle and if you have gas-powered outdoor heaters make sure you check them too.”
21. A wheelbarrow filled with ice is a simple solution for keeping drinks cold. “It not only looks cute but it’s easy to wheel away when you want to tip out the ice, ” Ms Baker said.
IN THE GARDEN
Get your garden glowing this weekend.
22. A green lawn is always a great place to stretch out and relax after a huge Christmas lunch. Mr Cochrane said one way to get a lush, dark green lawn almost instantly was to apply a liquid fertiliser such as Thrive, which had a high nitrogen level and was applied as a fast-acting liquid plant feed over foliage.
23.“Make sure you check your irrigation the night before Christmas, ” Mr Cochrane said.
“It sounds like a strange thing to say but Santa getting wet delivering presents at night is better than Murphy causing your system to break down or a sprinkler to pop off and leave your favourite plants looking dry and sick just days into the festive season.”
24. Potted colour is something of a Christmas tradition and Mr Cochrane said Kris Kringle petunia was a great option.
“Kris Kringle is a selection of red and white flowered petunias grown locally and available through leading garden centres this time of the year, ” he said.
“The plants are advanced and provide instant colour. Planting them into the top of existing planters that are bare around the base lifts the pots and adds a sense of festive cheer. Poinsettias are the ultimate Christmas plants and are overflowing in garden centres now.”
Create a warm welcome by spray painting your doormat with a festive message. We made our own stencil by printing the word “merry” on to paper and cutting it out with a craft knife.
Not enough seating for all your guests? Transform the humble plastic-topped trestle table with chalkboard paint. Use chalk to mark the place settings and dress up with fresh flowers from the garden.
A shady spot outside is the perfect place to chill out after the big feast. Use an old piece of fabric to create shade. A basic tub or old wheelbarrow makes a handy drinks cooler.
If the budget won’t stretch to new pots, update plain terracotta ones by dip-dying with a summery shade of paint. All you’ll need is a sample pot.
Grab some greenery from the garden and fashion into a wreath. We cut a circle out of chicken wire then attached a few sprigs using mini-wooden pegs.
© The West Australian
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