Pared-down, minimalist interiors demand a pared-down, minimalist tree, but one that is still as festive as the greenest fir. Bring in a tree bough, strip it down, paint it white, push it into a tub of sand or compost and string with fairy lights for a touch of Narnia-like magic. Easier yet, buy a white stemmed birch tree with built in lights, £65 for a four-footer and £99 for a six-footer, from Cox and Cox.
For a simple, effective centrepiece gather together tall stems of rosehip, pussy willow, alder, acorn branches and holly berries in a glass jug, then highlight with summer’s faded allium stems, sprayed first with gold. For an even easier option, buy faux everlasting stems of each with three branches per stem, from Sarah Raven, £7.50 each.
Branching out: white-stemmed birch trees by Cox and Cox (left) and faux berry stems by Sarah Raven (right)
Set a place for Ivy and Rose
Give table napkins a decorative flourish by wrapping a trail or two of ivy leaves around each one, and tucking in a cluster of ivy berries together with one perfect white Christmas rose, bought from a florist if the garden hellebores don’t oblige in time.
Soak ivy first in water for 30 minutes to make it last longer. Copper or slate plant labels, marked with each guest’s name, make imaginative substitutes for place cards.
Festive florals: cluster ivy berries with a Christmas rose to make this eye-catching place setting. Image: Friedrich Strauss/ Gap Photos
Don't forget to look up
Hang a tealight-laden metal chandelier low over the dining table, building on the romance with garlands of ivy and silvered baubles. Chandelier with tealights, £49.95 from Sarah Raven. Or use trails of foliage and berries to decorate a circular steel hanging frame designed for drying herbs and flowers, £18.49 from Honeysuckle Days.
Light work: chandelier with tealights by Sarah Raven
Hurricane lamps go down a storm
Clear glass hurricane lamps, brought in from the terrace, make decorative holders for fat pillar candles that are held securely with a layer of white garden-centre perlite, topped with silver-dusted fir cones. Hand-blown hurricane lamp, £19.95 from Nordic House.
Forage for fir cones or buy a bag of about 80 for £6.75 from Christmas Decor and scatter them down the dining table, hang them from the tree on organza ribbon or use to cover compost around the tree base.
Indulge in fruitful foraging to make a crab apple wreath
For the front door wreath, nothing succeeds like excess. Floral artist Paula Pryke takes a classic fir wreath and wires on cut crab apple stems, so that the fruits resemble an abundance of glossy red baubles.
Plant a crab apple - Malus John Downie or Red Sentinel - in the garden now for harvesting next year, but for more immediate results, forage at your local florist or at New Covent Garden flower market, Nine Elms Lane, for laden crab apple stems.
Winter wonders: hand-blown hurricane lamp by Nordic House (left). Try local florists and markets for an authentic door wreath, right (Image: Marianne Majerus)
White Scandi-cool centrepieces
Milk-white snowberries suit a cool, organic interior and the berry-laden stems can be used in a multitude of ways, from prodding into wreaths and garlands to making individual place settings in bud vases, to trailing down the length of the festive table.
Find snowberry Symphoricarpos White Hedge at the garden centre, and sacrifice the shrub with your secateurs, or buy realistic faux branches for £12.50 each, or a four-foot garland, for £18.75, from Nordic House.
A winter's trail: four-foot garland by Nordic House