Hanging out the cheer

Whether you're putting them up now or holding out until Christmas Eve, Trish Lorenz has all the bright baubles and luxuries lights you'll need

There's plenty of debate about when the right time to put up your Christmas decorations is, but unless you're a traditionalist who holds out until Christmas Eve, this weekend is a good time to start getting into the seasonal spirit.

There's something charming about digging old decorations out of the loft and hanging baubles that have been in the family for years. But it's also fun to add a few new items to the collection and this year there's a more casual vibe to decorations: think clusters of oversized paper decorations, tiny baubles hanging in a vintage photo frame, and fairy lights twinkling in front of a mirror.

"We're seeing a trend for people putting things together in a more relaxed, less formal way. It's about welcoming family and friends over the whole holiday period," says Mark Winstanley, creative and buying director at The White Company (thewhitecompany.com).

A tree is the obvious starting point but if you've decided against it because you have a small space or are going to be away over Christmas, you can still decorate your space to give it a seasonal vibe.

"I like to link things back to nature, perhaps by putting a couple of big spruce branches in a big container or hand-tying a few branches and hanging them on a wall, then weaving an array of lights and small decorations through them," Winstanley says.

Think of other places to decorate: a line of baubles on a mantelpiece or hanging from a chandelier look seasonal and chic. Large paper decorations work well when clustered together in a fireplace or alcove. And fairy lights are a must-have.

Lisa Rutherford, seasonal buyer at John Lewis, says: "Invest in some good indoor lights – they make the house look festive and welcoming and you can be creative about where you put them. Wind them around bookcases and other items of furniture, or display them in a bowl to create an attractive centrepiece. Simple paper origami decorations or paper stars can also look really effective as table decorations or hanging from the ceiling."