November 2016 archive

“Dreams are strangely familiar places…”

By Natalie Ellen Cobb,  founder and director, Private Dining London

Transport your dining table to the dreamy world of The Nutcracker story this festive season by using warm reds, wintery foliage and golden injections of color. Begin by laying your table in the classic fashion and warming the table with some candles. Then, use our top tips to achieve “The Nutcracker Look” with any table in your home or dining space this Christmas.


Foliage Centerpieces
Transfer the botanical foliage trend of 2016 to the festive season by using sprigs of dark-wood fern and stems of cotton to recreate the enchanting pine forest of Alexander Dumas’ story. Layer the foliage throughout the middle length of your table, intertwining the different branches and finish by arranging the stems of cotton on top. If you can get your hands on cotton they can be simple in bringing a dreamy softness to the foliage but if you struggle to find any, white flowers or berries will also be effective. One thing to note is to be careful not to use anything with too much perfume as this will overpower the smells of food.

Warming Décor
For the traditional Christmas touch choose some small wooden Nutcracker figurines for your table and place red charger plates underneath each placing. Gather a collection of nuts and scatter throughout the foliage as well as at the base of your candles and figurines. Due to size and color we find that large Walnuts and Chestnuts are the most effective. Feature a large red glass acorn decoration on each plate before the food arrives.


Gold Touches
Decorate a number of the nuts with gold leaf, gold paint or pen to add a touch of glamour to your table and place some of them under small glass cloches to create charming focal points for your diners. Crystal bowls work well as alternatives to cloches. To finish, personalize your table with handcrafted stationery featuring elegantly gold calligraphy and your favourite lines from the Nutcracker story.


If you #DreamChristy and take our steps to create “The Nutcracker Look” you can achieve a truly special first impression when guests sit down to your magical Christmas feast this festive season.


Natalie Ellen Cobb at Private Dining London & Anna Wallis at Rose, Paper, Scissors

Photoshoot collaboration by Private Dining London, Rose, Paper, Scissors & the private dining room at Bird of Smithfield  


Christmas Table Decoration Tips, from Bloom & Wild

By Sara Gordon, Brand and Creative Director, Bloom & Wild

Tip 1: Choose a theme or color

o   Hygge

  • The home trend of 2016 is Hygge
  • Create warmth with lots of pillar candles
  • Luxurious table cloth and napkins
  • Use lots of white and blues
  • Create a stylish centerpiece with our Scandi inspired bouquet The Sadie
  • These wild, white and wintery blooms contain seasonal blue thistle, white wax flower and white athena roses
  • Fill the room with throws and cushions to create extra warmth 


o   Classic Christmas

  • Lots of red and gold
  • Add some gold baubles to the table to create some Christmas sparkle
  • Christmas smells – rosemary, pine, oranges
  • Create a centerpiece with large candles surrounded by a festive wreath
  • The Fin –  a letterbox wreath, comes with a gold ribbon, dried oranges and pine cones


Tip 2: Make your guests feel special

  • Place settings can add a special touch to your table
  • Choose classic options like a gold spray painted pine cone or leaf
  • Make place setting settings with our Posy Party – filled with red roses, thistles and white wax flowers


Tip 3: Enjoy yourself!

  • Christmas is about your family and friends
  • A cosy atmosphere will help make the day great
  • Good food and fizz



Top Tips for a Cracking Christmas Celebration


With the Christmas party season approaching faster than Santa’s sleigh, it’s likely that you’re preparing to celebrate Christmas by organizing a merry party for your friends, colleagues or family.

According to Browns Brasserie & Bar, 72% of people find that their biggest worry over the Christmas period is the fear of their festive celebrations flopping. To help ease your party planning woes, we gained some Christmas party advice from Laura Richardson, Chief Host of Browns.

In this post, we’ll give you insider tips and tricks on how to throw a rockin’ Christmas do that will have people queuing at the doors for their festive fix.

It’s Never Too Early To Plan

When it comes to planning your Christmas party, the sooner you start, the better. Laura says, “almost 7% of people start thinking about booking their table in January”, whilst this may seem too eager to some, you don’t want to miss out on your favourite venue through leaving it last minute.

Keep It Out of Office

If you’re arranging a party for your colleagues, steer clear of an office party location. Laura advises, “It’s increasingly difficult for people to let go of their ‘in-work’ mentality when they’re outside the office let alone in the same building”. To combat those office blues, choose a venue in a restaurant, bar or function room away from work.

Plan the After Party

For those who like to go hard or go home, pre-arrange a location, such as a bar, to head to after the party has finished. This will prevent your party goers from umming and arring on the night and keep everyone from going their separate ways.

Inform the Troops

Once you have planned the event, invite your attendees and ask them to RSVP. Your invite should list all the small details of the party including dates, times, locations, dress codes, menus, etc. If people can see you are organised, they are more likely to respond to your invitation, and you can gain a realistic number of attendees.

The Most Important Part… Have Fun!

“Setting out a couple of hours each week/month to focus just on planning, and when it comes to the actual night, you’ll have nothing more to do but grab a glass of bubbly and relax!” With those lasting wise words from Laura, go ahead and start planning the Christmas party that’ll blow last years out of the – albeit icy – water. And remember…have fun!

Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to planning your Christmas party? Share your festive celebration ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter, we’d love to hear from you!


Get Crafty this Christmas With Our Handmade Advent Calendar

As December approaches, thoughts turn to the final Christmas countdown. But rather than buying the same old chocolate advent calendar this year, why not get crafty and make your own? Or this could be a perfect pre-Christmas gift for your loved ones.

We’ve teamed up with Emily Quinton from Makelight to share with you a step by step guide on how to craft your way to Christmas day.


To make this handy homemade calendar, all you need is:

  • Candy striped sweetie bags
  • Doilies
  • Two different patterns of decorative washi tape
  • Small pegs
  • Treats for your calendar

Now you’ve sourced your festive supplies and put on a Christmas playlist, let’s get started!

Step 1

Using your decorative washi tape, stick a doily in the centre of a candy striped bag. Repeat this until all your bags are adorned with doilies.  

We’re going for a granny-chic calendar here, but feel free to ditch the doilies to keep it modern. If you’re the arty type, use colourful pens to doodle festive scenes on your bags. Or step it up a notch with sparkly glitter. This is your chance to get those creative juices flowing!

Step 2

Using your second washi tape, create a number on each doily to correspond with the dates counting down to Christmas.

Step 3

We hope you haven’t eaten those treats just yet, as now it’s time to pop them in your bags. We like to give ourselves an extra treat on Christmas day, to make it all the more special.

Stuck for ideas? You can fill your advent calendar with sweets, chocolate, drawings, notes and small gifts for you or your loved ones.

Step 4

Finally, decorate the pegs with washi tape to give them a festive feeling, and use them to seal your finished bags. Voila!

These goody-filled advent calendars are perfect as a gift for yourself or to put in your family’s bags before work or school. If you want to display your hard work proudly, simply use the pegs to hang your calendars to a piece of string running along a wall.

Have you got any Christmas crafts you’ve been creating lately? Share some inspiration with us on  Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to tag us in your washi tape creations on Instagram.


Creating your signature Christmas, with Abigail Ahern

By Abigail Ahern,retailer, designer, blogger and best-selling author,

abigail ahern

What is your signature style at Christmas?

My festive decorating style is pretty simple. It’s all about adding rich colours, glittering lights and plenty of sparkle. I overdose on fairylights and scatter tealight candles everywhere. I also love to decorate with mossy branches, ferns, foliage, mistletoe, berries and wreaths. It’s all very natural and woodsy.

What would your recommendations be for creating a signature style? 

Keep it simple and find a colour palette you love. Whether you’re going with winter whites and greenery, or want to embrace kitsch fun with purple and silver tinsel, the trick is to be consistent and rein in the colour palette. That way you can mix and match with abandon, but it’ll still all look pulled together!

How can the Nutcracker inspire festive decor, and why do you think this is such a popular theme that keeps coming around?

The Nutcracker is a timeless inspiration because it combines all the best qualities of Christmas; it’s magical, joyful, adventurous and of course includes a whole menagerie of animals – my favourite decorating accessory at any time of the year!

What would be your dream Christmas? 

My dream Christmas is very simple – relaxing with good food, long walks with the dogs and spending time with family. I tend to veer away from parties and pubs, I much prefer PJs, fires and candlelight. We have a few family traditions I treasure, such as all meeting up for a stroll in one of the Royal Parks on Christmas Day. Then coming back to cocktails and champagne on the terrace (if it’s warm enough), Christmas dinner and then hovering around the outdoor fire pit sipping warmed cocktails. Perfect.

What do you most look forward to at Christmas time? 

It’s been an absolutely manic few months in the business, so all I want for Christmas is some time off! A log fire slowly burning in the grate and a good book – simple simple things.

Which is your favourite Christmas decoration? 

My sister Gem oversees all of our faux botanicals and makes the most stunning wreaths – I love mine so much I actually keep it above the fireplace all year round! The best thing about fauxs is that they can be reused year after year. Mine gets upgraded with copper string lights for Christmas, but it’s not going anywhere come January.

What is your Christmas soundtrack? 

I prefer something jazzy to most Christmas tunes if I’m honest. I’m famous in the office for being a bit of a Christmas music-phobe, and I stick with my favourite French radio FIP for most of the season. Although I can’t stand hearing Christmas jingles as early as October or November I have been known to steal Christmas playlists for the big day! A bit of Eartha Kitt and the lovely Carols from King’s help to set the tone.

What is your favourite memory from Christmas time?

My favourite Christmas memories will always be the excitement, anticipation and thrill of Christmases when we were kids. The very best ones were when my grandfather was alive. After a late Christmas lunch he would start a bit of a fight with all the leftover Christmas cracker paper. It would start off quite slow and lighthearted, but would always inevitably lapse into a full on food fight, with him wrapping mince pie grenades in tissue paper and flinging them across the room. I loved it, and it still makes me laugh thinking about it! Silly, chaotic and fun – isn’t that what Christmas should be?

What advice would you give for styling your home at Christmas?

Don’t forget scents! They’re so intoxicating and evocative. In keeping with my “winter forest” theme I’m using our We Took To The Woods scented candles this year. They summon up the magic of tramping through a damp pine forest on Boxing Day! I also like to dot fragrant bunches of fresh pine, thyme and rosemary about the place to make sure the whole pad smells incredible.

What inspires you during the festive period? 

How festive London looks for the season is constantly inspiring! It conjures up a truly magical Dickensian Christmas, and nowhere more so than the food markets. I adore visiting Borough market in the week leading up to Christmas, and queuing outside Neal’s Yard and Monmouth. The market food shopping is my absolute most favourite thing to do – it feels so festive and abundant.


Gift Wrapping Made Easy with Jane Means & 3M

Whether you like to cosy up with a festive drink in front of the fire or if you restrict the use of the dining room (Read: downstairs) while you run around like an elf, gift wrapping at Christmas is essential.

The art of wrapping is certainly an acquired skill, and everybody knows someone with all of the tips and tricks up their sleeves to make their wrapping as spectacular as the gift itself.

It’s time that we started to embrace the task of wrapping by learning some handy hacks as we team up with 3M and professional gift wrapper and widely acclaimed gift wrapping guru, Jane Means.

Beautifully wrapped present stack

If you’re giving a collection of gifts this Christmas (how lovely of you), this beautifully wrapped present stack may serve as inspiration. A lovely idea for families or favourite people, the gift stack looks great under the tree or even as a table centrepiece – and that’s before you’ve seen their faces after opening. Collect your supplies and gifts around you, and prepare to create a stunning gift stack.

final-gift (1)

You will need:

  • Gifts!
  • A selection of complimentary seasonal wrapping papers
  • A selection of ribbons
  • A Christmas decoration or two – such as some glass baubles
  • Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser


How to:

  1. Select your papers

Papers in the same colourway such as monochrome work well, as do a variation of patterns and colours. You could also use a selection of wallpaper remnants.

162. Each item should be wrapped in a different paper.


3. Place the parcels on top of each other, beginning with the largest wrapped gift first.

424. To add extra strength, loop over a strip of Scotch Pop-Up Tape and place the ‘double sided’ tab on the bottom of each parcel.

225. Tie the stack together firmly with a ribbon.


6. Add the finishing touch – tie in several loops of a different ribbon and add glass baubles.


How to tackle tricky-to-wrap chocolate tins this Christmas


If you’re anything like us, you’ve never quite finished the Christmas shopping and there’s always something else that someone you know would love. We often like to pick up some last minute biscuit or chocolate tins, but the circular tin is often a difficult shape to wrap elegantly. This next guide from Jane Means illustrates the best approach to wrapping tins this Christmas.

You will need:

  • Circular tin containing gifts
  • A sheet of seasonal wrapping paper (Strong works best)
  • Christmas decorations including a bauble and ribbons
  • Scotch Pop-up Tape Handband Dispenser


How to:

  1. Ensure that you have enough paper to go around the tin and include a small overlap. Measuring both sides so that they are just over the centre point will ensure you have enough fabric to work with.

172. Wrap the paper around the tin, securing with Scotch Pop-Up Tape.

23 (1)3. Lightly fold one of the ends inward and gently sit the tin up on a flat surface.

334. On the other side of the tin, begin to pull one edge of the paper into the centre with a little tension so it forms a small neat pleat. Repeating this process numerous times the whole way around the tin will create a stunning folded effect.

*Christy top tip*: The folding stage is tricky, so make sure you dedicate the time to create a neat fold, it’ll pay off in the end.

535. Cut away excess paper and secure with Scotch Pop-Up Tape.


6. Now turn the tin over and repeat the same process on the other side.

7. Finish your gift wrapping by tying a ribbon around the tin.


8. To add a flourish, add decorations such as a Christmas bauble and decorative tubing.


What is the trickiest gift you’ve ever wrapped? Share your wrapping wins or nightmares with us on Twitter and Facebook, us tag us in your finished creations on Instagram.




Fairytale Beauty for an Enchanting Christmas


Guest Blog GF Slider

By Grace Fodor,  leading beauty expert and the founder of cult beauty brand,

The wonder of the festive season is in it’s magic, and nothing is more spellbinding than that Christmas classic ‘The Nutcracker’. This year, catwalks and red-carpets are awash with balletic beauty, and where better to get your inspiration from then this most sparkling of fairytales. Think plush jewel tones and rich sumptuous fabrics.   Gold brocade and intricate beading are all in-vogue for party style. The ongoing love for all things Nordic is also coming into play, with pretty fake furs wrapped around bare shoulders, and skirts worn full and below the knee for absolute femininity.

Of course, the perfect dress requires the perfect makeup and this look requires special attention to balance the drama of the clothes. The look starts from the skin – lit-from-within radiance meets shimmering, glowing features and sparkling, glittering eyes. Imagine coming in from a winter-wonderland, made of glitter and spun sugar and you’re almost there.

Step 1.


Blur flaws with a tailored-to-your-skin palette of age-correcting balm concealers and redness correctors.  The lightest layer of foundation with a radiance finish is all you need for this look.  Buff into the skin with a flat-topped brush using a circular motion.


A warm-gold highlighter adds luminosity to the skin, giving features an instant lift. Apply to the top of the cheekbones, and anywhere that naturally catches light.

HIGH-STYLE PRO TIP: Mix a crème highlighter with your foundation and blend not only across the face, but also the collarbones, décolletage and anywhere else the light touches.


Subtle contouring creates natural shadows, not obvious lines. Key areas are the hollow of the cheek, the jawline and around the temples for drama and depth.


The cheeks are a high-point of this look.  Using a peach toned blush (not pink), pat in a circle shape to the apples of the cheeks – don’t blend too heavily for a doll-like finish.


Focus everyone’s eyes with a wide-eyed, ingénue effect.  Keep shadow light and smudge a liner in grey or brown across the top and lower lash line.  Add a dab of pearly white or bone coloured shadow to the very inside of the eyes and finish with lashings of mascara.

HIGH-STYLE PRO TIP:  Switching up to a rich peacock blue or green liner can add extra depth and richness to the look


Balance your features and keep it fresh by applying a nude toned lip-gloss. Look for one with light reflecting particles for extra plumping.


Etiquette tips for an Enchanting Christmas


william hanson headshot

By William Hanson, the UK’s leading expert and coach in etiquette,

Less is very much more when it comes to decorating your home for Christmas.  There is too much pressure, nowadays, in outdoing the neighbours and often good taste is forgotten.

My principle for keeping it ‘classy’?  Keep it simple.

A Christmas tree is a must, of course (ideally real, however expensive and designer that faux one you’ve been eyeing up is).  There’s nothing nicer than white twinkling fairy lights, if you ask me.  Multi-coloured ones are a tad 1970s – I’m surprised people even still consider them.

Once the tree and lights are up, time for the baubles and assorted decorations.  Personally, I try to pick two or three colours for the baubles, rather than chuck on anything of any hue.  A few wooden or china decorations can add visual interest, too.  Nutcrackers, soldiers or snowmen being more traditional choices.  

Let’s not discuss tinsel.  It shouldn’t even exist, as far as I am concerned.

Elsewhere around the house, you could consider a wreath (for main entryways, usually) or perhaps a footed glass bonbon-jar full of sugar plums (ideally real, but here a plastic alternative is permissible).

A small vase in each guest bedroom with a sprig of holly with berries is a nice touch, too, if you have visitors staying.

For the kitchen table (often forgotten), gently shove all the other fruit in the fridge or elsewhere and have a large porcelain fruit bowl full of satsumas for passers-by to help themselves.


With visions of sugar plums dancing in our head we look for the perfect festive beverage – Enchanting Cranberry Mulled Wine Recipe

Mulled wine, a classic warming drink that is a favourite of anyone who loves the Christmas season. Every year, we wait for the right time of year to add those much loved spices to our favourite red wine that magically transform the everyday ordinary into the perfect dreamy accompaniment to our favourite festive activities..

Luckily, our friend Fritha Strickland from Tigerlilly Quinn  is here to give us a fun twist on an old classic with her recipe for cranberry mulled wine. Simply follow her yummy recipe, and you’ll be onto a winner with this crowd pleasing Christmas tipple fit for a mouse king!


To make your own cranberry mulled wine, all you need is:

50g caster sugar
2 x cinnamon sticks
10 x whole cloves
2 x star anise
5 x allspice berries (optional extra, not essential)
2 x oranges (peel and juice from one, the other sliced to serve)
100g dried cranberries
500ml cranberry juice
250ml ruby port
500ml red wine
Fresh cranberries to serve (optional)

Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients together, simply follow the instructions below:

In a medium/ large saucepan combine your sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, allspice berries and orange peel and juice from one orange. Pour over enough of the cranberry juice to just cover the ingredients. Heat, stirring frequently over a medium to high heat until all the sugar has dissolved and you get a slightly thicker looking ‘syrup’. Add the remaining cranberry juice and the dried cranberries and continue to cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.
Add your port and red wine and warm through for 5-10 minutes. Be careful to not let the mixture boil and when warmed through, carefully ladle into glasses taking care not to include any cloves etc! Garnish with an orange slice and some fresh cranberries before serving.
Most importantly, enjoy!

Have you tried out this recipe for yourself? Tell us how it went over on Facebook or Twitter. Even better, send us a picture of your finished creation on Instagram, we’d love to see how you got on #DreamChirsty.


Planning for Christmas with a Nod to the Nutcracker #DreamChristy


Here at Christy, we truly love everything about Christmas. We love the inexplicable excitement that fills the air, we love the endless stream of fairy lights that seem to line every street and home, but most of all, we love preparing for the most magical day of the year.

This year, we’re on a mission to create an enchanting Christmas with a twist, giving a nod to our favourite festive story, The Nutcracker. To us, The Nutcracker celebrates all things mysterious, dramatic and magical, themes which have inspired our #DreamChristy Christmas this year.

So, to celebrate the countdown to Christmas, we are transforming our blog into your dedicated hub for all things festive and fun. Over the coming weeks, our blog will become your one-stop shop for everything you’ll need to prepare for this Christmas, including craft projects, delicious recipes, top tips and creative decoration ideas.

With the help of some of your favourite bloggers, industry experts and our own designers, we will be posting regular articles so that you are fully inspired and prepared to make 2016 your dream Christmas.

Be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for some extra tips and treats along the way. And if you’ve been inspired by any of our Christmas blog posts, let us know using the #DreamChristy hashtag.

Merry Christmas!

Love, Christy