A designer's guide to this year's essential Christmas decorations

From glittering stags to fluted fairy lights, Kate Watson-Smyth tracks down expert interiors advice for the festive season
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The Independent Online


Interior designer

I don't believe in creating an entirely new Christmas look each year – instead I prefer updating and incorporating traditional elements to produce new decorative schemes. I use all my old Christmas decorations from when my children were young, as well as finds from my travels, as I think it's important to balance a sense of tradition with something new and exciting.

I have big climbing flowers at my front door, through which I like to weave lights to create a welcoming and exciting feeling. It's also a good idea to continue exterior decorations through to the interior, perhaps using lights or foliage to make the spaces belong to each other and keep the Christmas momentum going as you walk through the house. I think it's really important to inject fragrance into the hallway, as it's such a lovely way to welcome people. I burn the Amethyst candle from my own range, as it has a wonderful scent, with accents of bitter orange. I also like to include contemporary arrangements of fresh flowers to add a modern note, otherwise it's all a little kitsch. I would avoid spring colours and use deep red hues, arranging berries and flowers in a big vase to add height.

I decorate my tree at the beginning of December, as this extends the exiting build-up to Christmas. This year, I am focusing on jewel colours – purples, teals and fuchsia, which you can either adopt as an entire look, or else pick out one of the colours as the central focus for your decorating scheme. However, as I believe in mixing traditional with contemporary, I will keep the actual tree more conventional, using Christmas decorations that I have had for years. I prefer to keep more trend-led looks for other areas of the house, such as the mantelpiece and dining table.

I like to display my Christmas cards by slotting them into the bookcases, so that the cover designs create works of art and even though my children are grown-up, we still do stockings for everyone – it's an important part of the Christmas experience, and looks decorative hanging from the mantelpiece. We have stockings that I bought in London, from The Monogrammed Linen Shop. I think stockings should be a combination of silly and luxurious things, such as a gorgeous perfume.


Author of a 'Girl's Guide to Decorating'

I'm going for a bit of a rock-chic vibe this year with my tree – so the sweet little snow flake decorations that come out year after year are staying in the loft and instead I am planning on hanging super sized baubles in petrol blue. I am upping their style ratings by spraying with hair spray and then covering them in lots of glitter so that they shimmer when the Christmas tree lights get turned on. Underneath the tree I am grouping a collection of a giant size paper balls in plum and scarlet from re-foundobjects.com. Playing with scale is one of my tricks of the trade – when you go super size objects appear far grander than they really are. And I am totally obsessed with their paper chains which I am sticking to the windows in abundance


Founders of TOAST

Our Christmas tree always comes from our local Welsh forest and does not go up until the very last minute on Christmas Eve. The decorations are kept as simple as possible – this year Toast's silvered glass baubles will hang next to the softly coloured ones that we've had for years. A mass of tiny white lights and a pile of presents at the bottom will be the only other additions.


Founder of Cabbages & Roses

Apart from being the easiest, effortless and most elegant decoration, a million, trillion white fairylights are more magical than anything else. I am not sure whether this is so because I have so little time. But if I had a week to concentrate on a tree I would try to emulate a friend''s tree which is 20 foot high in their grand dining hall, and decorated to within an inch of its life with something between raucous and tasteful Victorian baubles, and glittery string – it is sheer heaven


Founder of The White Company and author of 'How To Make Your House a Home'

It won't surprise anyone to know that I like to simplify things by choosing just one or two colours to decorate the tree. White and gold or silver baubles always work well at Christmas and look lovely mixed with natural greenery. If you don't have a tree (or even if you do) wind greenery around pictures or drape across the mantelpiece. Mix in fluted fairy lights for extra sparkle.