Why There’s Real Value in Decorating Our Homes For The Festive Season
Christmas is not about things, but so much about how we express ourselves and our care for those around us at this time of year hinges around the environment that we create. On the face of it, design is about how things look. In reality however, it’s about how they make us feel, how we want to feel and how we want others to feel around us. At no time of the year is that more prevalent, and at the same time more personal, than Christmas.
The holiday season is a real feast for the senses. It’s about wonderful smells, wonderful tastes, warmth (both physically and metaphorically) against the winter chill and, of course, it’s a chance to create something that’s visually magical. From the table decorations to the Christmas tree, the lights to the wreath on the front door, it’s all ways of showing love to those around us.
A ritual that guides us home
The kitchen plays a central role in the seasonal spectacle. The heart of the home throughout the year, this period of indulgence hinges on the preparation and care that goes on for weeks at a time in this hub of activity. Whether you have a kitchen/diner or separate rooms for cooking and eating, these are the spaces that show enormous value when we bring loved ones together, whether it’s just the two of us or a whole group of friends and family gathered around the table.
While there’s much going on in December that focuses on the commercialisation of the season, the mere fact that so many of us go home – whether it’s our own homes or our parents’ homes, those of in-laws or friends – is an indication of what we treasure the most; time together. This year, that’s particularly poignant. Those visiting bring gifts to show appreciation, while those hosting cook for hours on end, and make sure the star or angel is on top of the tree, because we want to make our loved ones welcome and happy.
The ritual of preparation is important as well. Christmas is an event that we cherish throughout the year – looking forward to the moment when we come together. The tradition of it is as much about a sense of stability and community as it is about anything else, which is why, for many (not all), it is some ways more of a cultural tradition than a religious one.
The way we make people feel through the environments we create
Perhaps one of the most important messages that we send to our loved ones at this time of year, is that of hope. It’s not unusual for any of us to feel low in December – the cold, the short days, the lack of sunlight – it all gets to us – even without global pandemics to add into the mix. At a time when things like tinsel and Santa may seem their most trivial, the atmosphere they help us create can in fact be at its most powerful. There is aspiration to it, and a sense of hope.
The table settings, the holly, the candles and the Christmas crackers may seem like they’re just decoration. However, these adornments, peppered across a home that you have nurtured and created – carefully choosing the lighting settings, the fixtures, fittings, surfaces and colours over time – are a message to those around us. They offer a reminder to our loved ones that they are cared for now, even at the darkest and coldest time of the year, and there are good times ahead.
In the words of Tom Baker, the actor perhaps best known as the fourth incarnation of that traditional Christmas character – Dr. Who: “Some Christmas tree ornaments do more than glitter and glow, they represent a gift of love given a long time ago.” The same can be said for all the design we bring together to make our house a home.