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Christmas Inspirations

GREAT IDEAS AND DIy FOR A WONDERFUL FESTIVE CELEBRATION

Create,make,bake
With the Christmas countdown well under way, its time to don your apron and dust off the baubles in preparation for December 25. Whether you plan to have a simple barbecue or an elaborate spread with all the trimmings, weve rounded up inspiration ideas to add a homemade touch to the season WORDS KYLIE JACKES

Table TonIC
Create a stunning festive spread with these styling ideas from the team at Roomtalk
What is the foundation of a well-laid table? Beautifully presented formal table settings require fabric napkins, formal glassware, stylish cutlery and a striking centrepiece on well-pressed table linen. For a more informal look, try striped and printed table linen teamed with more casual additions. What are the key considerations? When dressing the table ensure the centrepiece is the correct height and size so its in proportion. If using a rectangular table that is quite long, its often a good idea to use two well-spaced centrepieces. For round tables look to use a smaller square cloth layered over a round cloth. How do you create wow factor on a budget? You can achieve great impact by placing a branch lengthways on the table and adding decorations. You can also create effective individual settings by stacking your small plate on your dinner plate with a napkin and candle holder on top. A popular trend this Christmas is to use whitewashed birdcages as a centrepiece. A trail of fairy lights also looks magical intertwined in a branch. What are five festive must-haves? An attractive centrepiece, beautiful table linen, flickering candles, sparkling glassware and Christmas bon bons.

TRaDITIonal CheRRy ReD

Get the look


tea lights and seeded glassware. If you are feeling creative, make your own centrepiece by placing a branch in a painted pot and then decorate it with a mix of red and natural toned ornaments. Continue the theme by dressing the room with an matching advent calendar.

UnDeRSTaTeD GlaMoUR Get the look


For a seriously stylish spread, create a monochrome scheme with a few silver and bejewelled embellishments that will glimmer in the glow of candlelight. Keep things simple by opting for just a few key pieces in black, white and silver. Offset a striking tablecloth such as this one trimmed

SIMply naTURal

As red is a very strong, warm hue, it is best to incorporate it as an accent, rather than a base colour, as it could be too heavy and overwhelming on a large table. Layer the table with a cream, red-trimmed tablecloth, offset with matching napkins, red straw placemats, cream crockery, textural votives with

with dragonflies with white crockery, filigree glassware, French cutlery and silver/black napkin rings with silver candle holders. Nothing compares to the ambience created by tea lights, which can be displayed on tall central holders or placed within individual votives at each place setting.

Select a natural mix of table linens, runners, placemats and napkins in beautiful combinations of taupe, soft grey, white and cream. Add either white or cream crockery, your best glassware, cutlery and napkin rings to match. The centrepiece should always

Get the look

complement your theme in colour and style. A bamboo teepee is a great alternative to a traditional tree and looks festive adorned with stars, angels and fairy lights. Add a touch of colour with red or soft blues as an accent, with bonbons and ornaments.

Create the look


TRee
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: EASY TO MEDIUM Time: 1 hour What youll need: A sculptural branch the same shape as a tree, a bucket with Christmas paper wrapping or hessian for a more natural effect to match your branches, pods for on top of the bucket, sand for weight in the bucket, all your gorgeous Christmas decorations. To make it Step 1 Cover your bucket with your favourite Christmas wrapping paper, hessian or even plain brown paper. Step 2 Place the branch in the bucket and add sand to make sure it wont topple over. It might be necessary to cut down the stem of your branch to make it more stable in the bucket. Step 3 Add crows ash pods, banksia pods or pine cones on top of the sand to hide it and create a more natural effect. Step 4 Finish it off. Grouping one type of decoration in all the same area gives you a lot more wow factor, so look to cluster your ornaments by shape or colour. Try to use at least four or five different types of decorations but stick to just two or three colours. Step 5 Place your fabulous new Christmas tree in a spot where you can stack lots of Christmas pressies underneath. Tip: Choose your branch with a few nice smaller branches that stand up and are strong enough to hold the weight of your decorations.

inspiration
naTURal

Liz Smith from A Sculpted Leaf shares her top tips for creating stunning floral accents for Christmas
What flowers are in season? There are some fantastic colours available, especially if you are after Christmas colours, including white Christmas/november lilies, holly, red celosia, red anthuriums and red roses. Bright natives such as Christmas bush, orange cordifoliums and kangaroo paw are also great options. How do you get the most out of foliage to make sure it lasts? Christmas foliage such as holly, Christmas bush, red copper beech and spruce have quite woody stems so it is best to change the water daily or every two days. The secret to longevity is clean water. Its also best to clean your vase with bleach; the detergent is not good for your flowers. What are some alternatives if you do not have room for a tree? A vase of your favourite Christmas foliage teamed with white lilies makes for a great Christmas arrangement and has a gorgeous fragrance as well.

Create the look Create the look


FRonD
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: EASY TO MEDIUM Time: 45 minutes What youll need: A palm seed frond, a strong vase, sand and pebbles for weight in the vase, Christmas decorations and hanging blackboard decorations. To make it: Step 1 Fill your vase with sand and then a layer of white pebbles. Step 2 Place your palm seed frond so it will not fall and becomes balanced. Step 3 Group your decorations by shape and colour and hang them, flowing the same way your frond is angled. Step 4 Have the kids write personal Christmas wishes on the Hanging Blackboard. Tip: If youre opting for a beach theme add shells to the vase and wrap your Christmas presents with a starfish on the front.

Table CenTRepIeCe

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: MEDIUM TO HARD Time:1 hour What youll need: Two thin vases, two bunches of hosta leaves, orange tiger lilies, orange cordifolium, orange vanda orchids, jars with small candles and Christmas ornaments. To make it: Step 1 Add fresh water to the vases and place the hosta leaves in each vase, using the grouping effect. Use two vanda orchids at one end of a vase, then cordifolim in the other end. For the other vase, make it a little different by grouping three orange cordifoliums and use orange tiger lilies down the other end of the vase. Using thin vases will make sure there is plenty of room for food platters on the table. Step 2 Recycle glass jars by filling them with small scented candles and dress them up with ribbons, opaque paper or a wire handle. To further enhance the sensory appeal, consider candles with a light fragrance such as orchid, moss or gum leaf. Step 3 Place the vases at opposite ends of the table and assemble the candles and a few Christmas decorations around them to enhance the festive feel. Tip: For extra colour use a matching table runner underneath, which will help tie the whole look together. For something a little different opt for stripes or polka dots rather than plain linen.

Bake
Mary Bowtle from the Eumundi Food Company dishes up her favourite Christmas indulgences
Leading up to Christmas we cook our famous Bush Spiced Christmas Puddings rich with Australian dried fruit soaked for months in ginger wine and rum. We also make our Christmas Pudding Semifreddo Mix, which our customers add to ice cream or yoghurt and freeze for Christmas Day. For Christmas Day with friends and family I blend traditional and modern foods. After nine Christmases spent in England cooking goose and duck, I find it enjoyable to plan a lighter meal more suited to our climate and relaxed lifestyle. I still love the sense of occasion when it comes to entertaining for Christmas and I think guests appreciate lovely table settings and beautiful presentation. After all, appetites are stimulated by sight and smell as much as taste. I dig out old china, crystal and cutlery and set a gleaming festive table with lots of flowers and fruit. Proper cloth napkins are a must! Of course all table setting can be done in advance so it doesnt become a burden on the big day. TIPS FOR A CHEATS CHRISTMAS SPREAD 1. Buy the freshest, best quality, local ingredients you can and let the quality of the food speak for itself. Dont titivate it too much. Ill be buying all my ingredients at the special Noosa Farmers Market on December 23, some of them pre-ordered, so I know I will have the best. If a local supplier makes a fabulous product use it. 2. Share the jobs around. Give everyone, including children, a job on the day so they know they have contributed to the success of the celebration. After all, Christmas is about sharing the whole experience with those we love. 3. Use ziplock plastic bags with great abandon to store ingredients you have already cut up or marinated ready to be mixed or cooked. When you have used the sliced onions or marinated meat, just throw the bag away so there is no washing up of endless storage containers. 4. Start Christmas Day with an empty dishwasher, an empty rubbish bin, a fridge cleaned out of all scraps and strays and a decent supply of clean tea towels, washing up liquid and gloves. Make it easy to clean up and easy for anyone to help you clean up. 5. Clean and polish the table settings the day before and, if possible, set the table its very inspirational to wake up Christmas morning to a beautifully set table ready for guests and good food to come together. 6. If you can get away with it, dont turn on the oven; use the barbecue instead. It makes things much cooler all round.

Starter

ChRISTMaS pRawn CoCkTaIl veRy ReTRo, bUT UnIveRSally loveD


INGREDIENTS Fresh prawns, 250g a person Baby cos lettuce Good quality mayonnaise Lemon or lime juice Fresh ground pepper METHOD Shell the prawns and rinse in cold water. Pat dry. Wash and dry the cos lettuce. Line your best stemmed glasses or glass dishes with lettuce and heap prawns on top. Mix mayonnaise with lemon or lime juice and ground pepper to taste and drizzle on top of the prawns.

Main

baRbeCUe DUCk bReaST wITh ManGo anD RoCkeT SalaD


INGREDIENTS Duck breasts, one per person Red and white onion Ginger Salt and pepper Thyme Potatoes Bread crumbs Balsamic vinegar Mango Rocket METHOD The day before, diagonally score the skin on the duck breasts and marinate them in crushed garlic, sprigs of thyme, chopped onion, fresh ginger, salt, ground pepper and oil. Store in a ziplock bag in fridge. Also wash Dutch Cream or Nicola potatoes and chop into 2cm cubes. Bring to boil for five minutes. Drain and toss in oil, salt and pepper. Store in ziplock bag in the fridge. On the day, toss torn rocket leaves, sliced mango and sliced red onion and place in a big glass bowl. Dress with good balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil, salt and ground pepper. Heat the barbecue and first cook the potatoes. Add some breadcrumbs to the oiled potatoes to make them crunchier and saute on the barbecue plate. When the potatoes start to brown, wipe excess marinade off the breasts and cook for 10 minutes on each side. Serve them sliced with potatoes on a platter.

Dessert

ChRISTMaS pUDDInG SeMIFReDDo


INGREDIENTS Eumundi Food Company Christmas Pudding Semifreddo mix 1-2L good quality vanilla ice cream or yoghurt 400ml cream 300g brown sugar 100g of butter 100ml brandy, or rum if you prefer METHOD Several days beforehand, combine the pudding mix with the ice cream or yoghurt. Freeze into the shape of your choice a log, individual puddings or a square. Line the container with baking paper to make it easier to remove the ice cream. To make the brandy sauce, simmer the cream with the brown sugar and butter in a saucepan on a low heat, stirring constantly to make sure it doesnt burn. When the sauce is frothing, take it off the stove and whisk in the brandy. Store the sauce in the fridge, but serve warm in a lovely jug. Decant the ice cream before the guests arrive and set it on your serving plate in the freezer until just before serving. You can top it with cherries or other festive fruits.

F
Paper tear drops
Youll need Poster-sized card stock in various colours Ruler Pencil Scissors Stapler or glue Twine/ribbon To make it: Measure and cut 4cm-wide strips of poster card. Use alternate lengths of card (the longer the strip the longer the tear drop). Then join the ends of each piece of card together with a stapler or glue, nest the smaller loops inside one another and attach them together at one end. Thread twine or ribbon through the gap and attach to hang.

F
estive lourishes
Get crafty and deck the walls and the all-important Christmas table with homemade embellishments
Youll need Five sticks, four roughly the same length and one longer one Glue gun, available from craft stores Optional ribbon or twine / fairy lights

Lace votives
Youll need Lace Old jars Twine or wool Tea lights

Gum leaf wreath


Youll need Polystyrene wreath, available from craft stores Pins Green leaves Ribbons

Stick star

To make it: Measure your jar against your fabric to find the length and width you require. Cut the lace and wrap it around. For seriously crafty people, you can stitch the lace in place with a contrasting coloured thread, which will add to its decorative appeal. For those less partial to needlework, simply tie in place with white cotton. Add your own embellishments, whether ribbons or wool, or hang a Christmas decoration around the rim. Fill with tea lights and bask in the ambient glow.

Bunting
Youll need Patterned paper Piece of card stock Scissors Ruler Pencil Sewing machine To make it: Create your own bunting stencil by cutting a triangle to the desired size on card stock. Use your stencil to trace the shape on to patterned paper and cut them out. Then simply sew them together leaving a gap of about 2cm between each. Hang in place and enjoy.

To make it: Simply arrange the sticks in the shape of a five-point star. Turn your glue gun on and get it heating while you tweak the arrangement and snap the sticks where necessary. Then glue the sticks together where they join. Leave star to set for five minutes or so. If you want to hang your star, simply cut ribbon or twine to suspend it from. To jazz it up at night wind fairy lights around the sticks.

To make it: Start by covering the wreath with ribbon. Tightly wrap the ribbon (I chose green to blend in with leaves) so it completely covers the base. This takes far longer than you suspect, particularly if you are using narrow ribbon, so plonk yourself in front of a Christmas movie while you do it. Once your wreath is covered, tie a large decorative ribbon to the top to suspend it from. Before pinning the leaves to the wreath roughly arrange them on a flat surface to get an idea of where to pin them. Select larger leaves for the bottom of the wreath and fan them out according to size. Then start pinning them on to the wreath, making sure to cover any gaps with smaller leaves. Once complete, simply hang in place either on a wall or door.

Lanterns

Youll need Old jars in assorted sizes Wire Wire cutter Sand Candles or tea lights

To make it: Wrap a length of wire around the lip of the jar several times then loop over and fasten to create a handle. Fill the bottom of the jar with sand to help hold the candle in place and catch the wax. Wedge a candle in the middle and light. The lanterns look great spread across the length of a table or dotted around the garden.

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Festive countdown
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