London is dreaming of a black-and-white Christmas - or even perhaps a purple one because this year you can decorate your tree and home in fabulous colours. Aqua and indigo are there for a really cool Yule. Be bold, experiment, push the boundaries... this is just for Christmas, not for life. Give red and green away and make it mono, with all the fashionable drama ofˇ simple black and white. Mix in silver and crystal for added glamour.
House of Fraser has this look totally sorted, with black acrylic and clear crystal drops, little black feathered birds (birds are big this year), and many more ideas. B&Q adds a supposedly ironic twist. It has given familiar red-and-white folksy motifs a startling mono make-over (www.diy.com).
The colour purple
Fashion is currently loving purple: cue for a passionate Christmas. Ikea has gone madly mauve with oodles of plummy gift wrap (£1.49 a roll) and bargain sets of decorations for £3.49, including purple stars, tinsel and tassels (www.ikea.co.uk). M&S has purple fake fir trees and other inspired ideas. Again, HofF is bang on cue, with violet tree decorations and tableware. Tesco has low-cost amethyst glasses - for example, two wine glasses for £4.97 (call 0800 505555, or shop from Tesco Direct on www.tesco.com). Matalan ups the drama stakes with purple ornaments on a black faux tree (6ft, £30). Call 0845 330 3330, or visit www.matalan.co.uk.
At The Conran Shop in South Kensington, creative director Polly Dickens has gone for a single colour theme and saturated the shop with red - 500 metres of velvet and thick red carpets. “It feels surreal and theatrical,” she says. Dickens adds: “Keeping to a single colour in everything Christmassy gives a dramatic feel: baubles, garlands, candles and candlesticks. Then lay a red table as well, with plates, glasses, napkins, centrepiece and a swathe of fabric.” Call 020 7589 7401, or visit www.conranshop.co.uk.
Going for gold
Even your local high street yields a happy haul - designs are affordable, accessible and often every bit as glam as top stores. Witness the delicate gilded little numbers at Woolworths. Gold sequinned birds are £3 for three, butterfly clips are the same price, while a gold glitter reindeer is a mere 20p. Hang with gold thread from spray-painted golden twigs against a background of gauzy lace (01706 862789; www.woolworths.co.uk).
Bhs is singing seasonal blues at jazzy prices, with assorted aqua baubles for £3 a box. Add bejewelled crackers in sea-green and midnight (£12, box of six). A flock of hummingbirds comes in turquoise glitter - perch them on the mantelpiece for two quid each. Snap up chunky, clear crystal candlesticks (from £10) - or dramatic in black (from £45). Call 0845 196000, or visit www.bhs.co.uk.
For a real piece of seasonal madness, there is the topsy-turvy Christmas tree (yes, really). It comes 6ft high from B&Q ready to dress with lights and decs for £49.98. Even John Lewis has this bizarre idea - though theirs costs £75. Apparently, we can blame the 7th century, when triangular-shaped trees were hung upside down from the ceiling to symbolise the Holy Trinity. John Lewis buyer Lisa Rutherford says of the topsy-turvy trees: “They take up less space at floor level and keep decorations away from small children and pets. Ornaments hang better, as they don’t get caught in foliage.”
Let’s see whether Londoners learn to love or loathe this idea.
Collecting on the Continent
On the Continent, collecting ornaments is a treasured tradition. In Germany, Villeroy & Boch has a ceramics pedigree dating back to 1748. It produces a different porcelain collection each Christmas. This year’s batch includes a dear little teddy, an open carriage with Father Christmas, and a toy train. Prices are from £7.95. (For stockists, call 020 8875 6060, or visit www.villeroy-boch.com).
The custom is strong in Denmark, too, where Royal Copenhagen goes back to 1775. It does a different porcelain figurine each year. New for Noel 2007 is a gentle little lady called Sara, priced £22.75 (for stockists, call 0800 963763, or visit www.royalcopenhagen.com). Rosendahl, also big in Danish porcelain, is making decorations for the first time this year, with a collection called Karen Blixen’s Christmas (by sculptor Ole Kortzau). Sterling silver-plated ornaments are £14.95, and gold-plated ones (24 carat) are £16.95. (For stockists, call 01252 377 900, or visit www.rosendahl.com).
John Lewis buyer Lisa Rutherford advises:
* Start with your lights and weave them in and out of branches to give a sense of depth.
* Place decorations on the floor in colour groups.
* For a balanced effect, make sure that each part of the tree has some of each colour.
* Ornaments of different scale and texture will create a sense of richness.
* Keep heavier ornaments for stronger branches that will not sag.
* Hang dangling ornaments at the end of branches where they will be seen to best advantage.
* Bake your own cookies, ice with a family name and hang with ribbon for a personal touch.