top 10 decorating ideas | home 4 Christmas

Keep Calm … Christmas is Coming

A few friends have asked recently why they haven’t heard from me lately. Good question! In truth, I think the Christmas mayhem hit home earlier than usual. At times like this, we often find ourselves overwhelmed by all the pre-Christmas house guests, the gift shopping, the food shopping (which generally starts a good month out), the festive social encounters, and getting the house looking like it’s just a little bit of Christmas. The action plan keeps growing by the minute (a little like my waistline at Christmas…argh!).

Why is it that we place so much pressure on ourselves in the lead up to Christmas? If I consider my relentless need to create, update and mark off a daily action plan, I suspect the problem could well be me.

Despite the mayhem and energy that drains me like the kitchen sink, I adore Christmas.  Bringing together family, friends, fun, love, and laughter is worthwhile.

Our house consists of two these days … and yet this does not stop me from filling our home with Christmas joy.  It is about creating a festive welcome for every guest who visits. Share the cheer, I say!

Let’s get to the more exciting part of entertaining at Christmas, home decorations! What better excuse than Christmas to pull out all your little bits and pieces and apply some decorating glory.

1: Christmas tree | black is black  

A busy working mum said that she did not have time to put up a Christmas Tree for her children.  She is so busy juggling her business, house and children, and I am sure many of us know exactly what that feels like (well, at least remember what that felt like).  She is so not alone.  Many of us feel overwhelmed, yet if we take a breath, we might find that decorating can be one of the most mindful things you can do leading up to the Christmas mayhem.

Decorations need not be extravagant or complicated work.  Find a theme and do more with less.

This year I have gone with a lit black Christmas Tree adorned with baubles (a great eBay find).  Black is more contemporary, and I love how the black worked back with an abundance of colourful, bauble splendour.

IMG_0523Photo | well, isn’t this a little ray of pitch black!

2: bauble delight

Each year I grow my collection of Christmas baubles.  I invest in 10 new ones each year, in different colours and styles.  Baubles work for me with a touch of heart here and there, while another friend has a collection of birds.  I go with a more lux look while she has a more natural organic look.  We love many of the same things, yet we both create entirely different looks. I love that! Share ideas, and then go make them yours.

IMG_0643photo | the more colourful, the better

3: light show | the easy way

I purchased a few outdoor lamps online this year.  They were inexpensive and yet gave a great splash of Christmas cheer … with nothing more than the click of the switch. You don’t have to spend weeks installing outdoor lighting (but please don’t let that stop those who provide such magical wonder); you just place this in your yard, shine it on your house, and have an instant light show in red or green.

I plan to also install one in our internal courtyard for our Christmas dinner.  In seconds it showers thousands of lights and movement all over the walls.  What is a little more movement when the house is already awash with so many busybodies?

qjA+ZzD4SyW1elf1RNhcOAphoto | google laser light 

4: glorious tulle

Personally, I adore tulle (while my friend again prefers more natural fibres). The softer tulle gives a softer look and is easier to work with. It is a cheap way to get some wow.  Fill gaps in your tree with a handful of tulle, which can resemble a rose when bunched correctly.

IMG_0648photo | naturally black tulle for a black tree 

5: doing more with less

Hint | Don’t attempt to fill the entire house with decorations, as this can sometimes resemble decoration mania and quickly go from elegant to overwhelming.  Focus on various locations throughout your home that you can decorate…more with less.

Don’t forget to layer your Decorations.  So much more attractive to the eye.

5jl0oKHFSR+iBXzmvqMIKwPhoto | decorations don’t need to be expensive! 

img_0663.jpgphoto | don’t forget your little touch of cheer in the guest bathroom

6: wrapping up Christmas

Wrapped boxes to match your tree makes for a gorgeous complementary look.  Better still, shop where they wrap your gifts which can then be placed under your tree and create some additional wow (the added bonus of shopping in the same shop is that the packages all look lovely in the same boxes and paper).

IMG_0642Photo | we have a bit of a Chanel thing happening this year, so there is no great surprise for my family here.

7: the power of flower

Flowers are a gorgeous Christmas inclusion, yet they can cost the earth and not last past a few days!  This is an already expensive time of the year.  I prefer investing in white potted orchids because they keep giving for months and months (if you talk to them nicely and don’t overwater them). Dried stems can also look equally as attractive.

IMG_0662Photo | this orchid has been given back to me for 18 months.  I am still astounded by its kindness.

8: secret scents 

Loads and loads of candles always look fabulous at Christmas.  Combine plain with scented because nothing looks better than when it gives off a wonderful scent.

Hint | tie bunches of cinnamon sticks together with black ribbon (or a colour of your choice) and place them in your tree to add another beautiful slight secret scent.

IMG_0664photo | there can never be too many fairy lights

9: adorn the table with all your little wonders

Your table is a great space to decorate.  You can provide a look filled with Christmas decorations before and on Christmas Day.  Load your table with anything you think looks festive, and move it around.  Add coloured stones, candles, nuts, potted herbs, etc. My husband knows that the table is not for eating in December.

I appreciate this is not terribly practical if you need to use your table in the lead up to Christmas, but since when has practicality played a role in the art of decorating?  Remember to layer your table and add your little treasures here and there to make a gorgeous splash of Christmas.  Many looks can be achieved very affordably.

Don’t be limited by colour.  Christmas does not need to be red and green, you know.



IMG_0689Photo | Lesley would be proud of me for shopping at K Mart and buying a few table decorations.  So affordable and so good!

9: all plated up

I cannot believe that we are switching to disposable plates this year (can you hear me gasp).  We are opting for a more leisurely Christmas Dinner, and paper plates come with that option.  Finding the ones that actually look great on the table can be a challenge.  So many of the more decorative plates are way too small and very expensive.  So, what to do?  I opted for a mix of more expensive paper plates, which I now plan to team back with a cheaper Coles variety.


IMG_0569photo | paper plates and paper napkins – mix up for larger gatherings

10: just how sweet can one get?

Don’t forget the lolly jar.  When you fill it too early (as we have done), you will just need to keep on refilling.  Every house should be filled with lollies for our little treasures and big kids.


How can I do a Christmas blog without sharing a pav!  I tried this one out last night to see how we could make it look more like Christmas. Add some pistachio and dried raspberries to a brittle, and then add the shards to the top of the pav for a little added wow!  Note, however, I had 3 goes at this before I got the brittle to look more like shards and less like a slab of peanut brittle.  The key I found is to make sure the sugar is totally melted before bringing it to a boil.


Sending you loads of love and sugar! 

from the heart | attachment

I always said my blog would be mostly about entertaining and sometimes purely from the heart.  This is one of those.

From time to time, I ask myself why I blog, and I keep coming up with the same answer, I have no bloody idea!  My friends would argue that I am one of the most private people they know, yet here I am not only opening up my house, friends and family (and so it seems nobody is off-limits), but I am also sharing personal things about myself.  Nobody could be more surprised about this than I.

In part, you feel a sense of freedom writing, a little liberated by sharing your words.  Paper provides you with the breathing space to think, and it leaves you feeling lighter somehow.  So indeed, that is reason enough for now?

My sister sets the challenge |my sister phoned me (and I am fast thinking I might need to retitle my blog… “a  day in the life of my sister and me” and she told me how a friend of hers had just returned from a yoga class, and the teacher gave them one word.  I could hear where this was heading, and I didn’t like it.  She would occupy some of my refreshed headspaces to undertake some challenges.  She must have listened to my sigh because she gently pushed on regardless and added that the word was “attachment”.  In my head, I am thinking, so the challenge begins!

I make my way from the bedroom, down the stairs, and headed towards the kettle for my second cup of tea for the morning while emptying the dryer and feeding the goldfish.  We are extraordinary multi-taskers, we women!  As I make the walk (holding my mobile phone in my left hand and knowing that my steps are being recorded at the same time, because seriously, who else would walk around the house with their mobile phone in their hand), I picture the attachment as many things; clothing, MAC lipsticks, shoes, crockery, cheeseboards and I am starting to think that these are addictions not “attachments”, and I like the challenge even less now. I put my mind to my husband and my son, and the thoughts start to ramble and fill my otherwise quiet space, and I again realise these are not attachments but commitments.

I am multi-tasking my demanding and meaningful list of things to do. I also fill my arms with our over-flowing medicine chest because I remember telling myself yesterday that today was the day I needed to make good here. Unlike my spice drawer, which is filled with love and organisation, our medicine chest has been starting to resemble my son’s bedroom (before he left home). It is beginning to look a little like Niagara Falls, same cascading attributes just missing the abundance of beauty.  But hey, my mother told me my mind was filled with imagination, so I am confident that I can turn this exercise into something exciting (feeling my creativity fast depleting as I hold that thought).

Finding my attachment | I sit myself down with my cup of tea and our medicine chest, and in this lovely, almost mindful state, I start to again think about attachment. I am still struggling to see its point, further frustrated that my sister has filled my otherwise restful mind.

I reach where the bulk of the medicines have banked up and start to discard them.  One by one, I start throwing out Endone, Tramadol, Targin, MC Contin, Maxolon, Kytril, Glycerol Suppositories, Coloxy, Dexathasone, Naproxen, Ural, Lorazepam, White soft paraffin, Jelonet and the list just kept rolling out like a roll of toilet paper on a bad day.  Before me, I saw a group of medications that I did not even know existed before a breast cancer diagnosis.

As I look at these medications, I feel a certain sadness come over me, weird.  It reminded me of where I was just less than two years ago. This emotion is closely followed by some strange sympathy I extend to myself (which I never afforded until this truly reflective moment because I always believed I needed to stay strong throughout treatment). As I sat there thinking, I started to accept that this was why I have been continuing to struggle somewhat with my health and why I have been getting so frustrated with myself (and if I am, to be honest, sometimes truly disappointed) that I don’t seem to be able to find my way back to that same person I was “before BC”.

I look at all those tablets, and I remember how my body has been to hell and back and that I deserve to be kind to myself, not disappointed.

I sit with the thought that it is OK not to be perfect, not to be able to do maybe everything I did before, and if I find myself visiting my Doctor more times than I do my hairdresser, so be it!

So why did I hold onto those medications for all this time? A list that I never knew existed before BC, which I never needed to know existed. I haven’t needed them now for almost two years, so why?  Then, I see my “attachment” and why I have been holding onto them…just in case.

Photo | my bad…find your unhealthy attachment, look it in the face and kiss it goodbye!

Bugger the just in case!!!  Out the door went my attachment!!!

If I dig a little deeper, I might find that my writing has helped my recovery. Anxiety creeps into your head in the middle of the night, disguised as a friend, and before you know it, this other person has settled into your thoughts and your behaviour uninvited and unwanted.

I know that some of you who read my blog have also been affected by a breast cancer diagnosis and are, like me, still in treatment in one way or another. If not breast cancer, then it is something else.  Let’s be honest, a diagnosis pulls us up short, and it changes us. In many ways, the changes are good and, in some ways, just not always in our control.  I prefer to focus on the good and the sometimes great, yet it does not stop those times of incredible frustration and disappointment trying to wrestle for a spot.

This is why I blog. It is my therapy. Saying things aloud means that they no longer clog your otherwise poor recovering brain, which has already gone to war for you and keeps on fighting.  This is why we need our girlfriends to keep the talk happening.

Having found my attachment, I give myself a little more time to reflect, and I see that I have been mourning an earlier version of me, a more vibrant, energetic and healthier me.  I ran a business; how demanding can that get. Maybe these feelings start to creep in when we begin to create space.  Any diagnosis will do this, some more serious than others and some with unspeakable outcomes.  Whatever the diagnosis, it is natural for us and those around us.

And yet, I am now other things that I wasn’t before.  I am more compassionate, patient, understanding, a better listener, and more caring, and finally, I am more honest about my feelings.  What blessings! My diagnosis taught me many things, as I am sure it has you.

I am on tamoxifen, which comes with its own set of side effects, my legs don’t work like they used to, and I take pain killers to dull the nerve pain, etc. Recently I found myself watching a girlfriend, a healthier version of me, stand up from the table, and her legs didn’t work. She told me it was age.  I started to think that maybe I am attributing too many of these changes to treatment rather than just accepting them as part of life and getting on with it.

It is so easy to give things labels.  Once they have a label, they become an attachment.  My days of heavy treatment and a truckload of drugs were back then, and this is now.  Whatever challenges we have going forward is life, so there is little point in staying stuck. This is a new phase and can be a significant phase if only we start to be in the moment.  We need to embrace our lives the best way we can and enjoy them.

My spiritual friend recently told me that this is the path we are all on, an unfolding journey that every soul finds themself on, called life. When we are starting to move from singular beings toward a beautiful collective space. 

A thought | Be kind to yourself and keep talking with your girlfriends (coffee, cake, and chocolate are just fine with me). Girlfriends are better than any medicine.

        Love to all our sisters. 💋

OMG …did you seriously give that!

There are so many more glorious gift ideas, way better than the good old faithful and sometimes convenient bunch of flowers, or the fake red carnation in a cylinder (that OMG moment, did they seriously give me that) gift!

There is nothing more loving than putting a little thought into the gift you give to the Hostess.

It’s not all about the Wine | A bottle of wine is still a must, whereas the hostess is also given a small gift as a gesture of your appreciation. The bottle of wine you take on the night may not be opened on the night because this is always at the discretion of your host and the same applies to any food you might give as a gift.

Gifts should not be elaborate or expensive as this can make the Hostess embarrassed and it can also make other guests feel uncomfortable that their gifts look less significant. Keep it affordable and keep it thoughtful.

So when is too much? That is difficult, because the traditional gift of a bottle of wine or champagne still exists, as does a small gift. Just remember that it is always less about the value of the gift and more about the thought behind the gift.  Just never go empty-handed.

The perfect gift is when you stop and think what an amazing gesture and you realise that your guest gets you. What a massive compliment!

The Power of Flowers | Flowers are always a safe option and yet not always the best option. If you are buying flowers on the way to the dinner party, it will often look as if the flowers have been purchased as a last-minute thought. Flowers that have a look of love about them can never go wrong. Consider putting a bunch of flowers into a glass bowl or ceramic pot for a point of difference. A vase demonstrates just that little bit more thought.  Better to make the bunch of flowers smaller and add a container. An orchid plant is always an absolute showstopper!


An alternative to a bunch of flowers could be a potted plant, cacti or pot of herbs, which are all very in at the moment. Keep your container neutral in colour and style, not patterned. You want your gift to fit easily into any home style.




Wrapping Up | Wrapping the gift also adds weight to your gift and makes it look a little more loved. Attach a ribbon to your gift or place it in a gift bag filled with cellophane or tissue paper. And of course, ribbons, ribbons, ribbons.


Attach a Tag | Add a gift tag to your gift (this is again me suggesting you do as I say not do as I do). How often have we hosted a dinner party and in the flurry of tight deadlines and in the middle of a series of back to back hot flushes, we find that we paid little attention to the gifts given on arrival only to later find that we cannot remember who gave what (difficult to type with one hand in the air)?

Sweeten up the Night | Chocolates are always guaranteed to please. There are also many gorgeous sweet alternatives you could consider such as decadent peanut brittle (one of my favourites), delicious rocky road (another of my favourites) and the likes.



Empty a box of Baci (oh dear another of my favourites) into a lovely glass jar and tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar. This looks gorgeous and again it makes for something a little less predictable than the commercial box of chocolates.

The Unexpected | Something a little unexpected and equally appreciated would be a delicious jar of jam, a tin of herbal tea, a tin of hot salted caramel chocolate, flavoured oil of sorts or a basket filled with Ottolenghi style herbs.



Make it and Take | If you have the time and the talent, then nothing beats a homemade condiment of sorts, such as spiced oil, jam, chilli, biscuits or meringues. Whatever the item place it in a lovely jar, basket or gift box and finish it off with clear cellophane paper and a ribbon. I keep a box filled with beautiful ribbons in many colours for exactly this purpose and the purpose of gifts. Handwritten labels on jars can make your gift more personal.

I have shared stories about Ottolenghi and I have spoken about his pistachio and rosewater meringues. Bake some and give them away. Again, don’t expect them to be eaten at the night, they are a gift. Wrap them in cellophane paper, fill the bag with dried rose petals and tie it all together with a gorgeous big bow (better still let the Hostess know what you are bringing so that she can rely on them on the night).


Queen of Hearts | Now let’s get different and thoughtful. If they play cards, how about a beautiful set of designer cards (so special) what amazing thought.  These Christian Lacroix are of a beautiful set of cards and seriously who would be unhappy to receive these!



For those of you who love linen napkins, then there are sets of affordable linen serviettes on the market right now. Maybe consider a set of 4 linen napkins in a neutral colour, which will work for any casual setting or a linen tea towel (which is perfect for an afternoon tea or high tea gift).  Simply roll them and tie them in a ribbon.

A scented candle always wins in my house. I love burning scented candles and I love giving them as a gift. Add to this list a lovely jar of hand cream, hand towel, and soap on tap, (I adore Aesop’s mandarin and orange soap).

Short story | I gave my brother-in-law a get-well candle a short while back. A black container with white writing, so contemporary and so masculine. The words read, “From someone who cares … and that someone isn’t me”. Fortunately, we have that kind of relationship and he loved the thought and the candle … and me of course!


When you are out shopping and you see a gift and think of a particular person, grab it, store it and wait for that special occasion when you can give it.


Staying over the Weekend | Does anyone do that anymore, unless they are your grown adult kids trying to save money? If they do, then absolutely a gift is appropriate. Friends came to stay at our beach house a short while back and bought with them a bottle of red wine and a hamper filled with beautiful cheeses, biscuits and jams. Delicious, so kind and so perfect!

As for me | I am off to eat a little peanut brittle, or maybe some rocky road or maybe a Baci or maybe a little of each! Next time you will find me just a little bit sweeter.

Tip | Stockpile some lovely small gift cards/tags, gift bags, ribbon, cellophane and tissue paper so that they are sitting waiting in the ready for your next Hostess gift.


the perfect mother’s day gift

“The bags under my eyes are CHANEL”. 

-Coco Chanel

We tell our children that the only thing we want for Mother’s Day is a card, and yet what we mean is, please just don’t forget me!

So when my son’s Mother’s Day gift arrived in the mail (let’s not mention a few days late … ) I was thrilled to find the perfect gift. The card and his heartfelt words always warm my heart (and I am just a little bit relieved that he has stopped giving me Easter cards for Mother’s Day and Christmas cards for Easter)!

More than just a Book | The title of the book resonated with me immediately.  The book told me that he not only loves me but he knows me so well and both are equally as important to me.  “The Kinfolk Table | Recipes for Small Gatherings”, by Nathan Williams … just perfect!

What I love even more is the blurb on the inside front cover where they talk in a language that is also close to my heart.  They talk about discovering the simple pleasures of a shared meal.  The Kinfolk is about good food, but it is just as much about opening up the table to the people around you.

I cannot wait to read this book from cover to back and I cannot wait to try a few of the recipes!


Gift in-situ | on the dining room table of course!