While they might seem superfluous, Christmas decorations – we think – are the ultimate way to set the tone for your festive celebrations. If you’re in charge of planning the Christmas office party this year (or even if you’re just researching your own personal shindig), getting some solid Christmas decoration ideas in the bag is essential if you’re going to nail a night of festive fun.
Whether you’re conscious of it or not, the way a room looks has an impact on you,’ says Sally Cullen, an event stylist who has been in the business for 20 years. Cullen’s job involves styling for photoshoots and events, so she’s perfectly positioned to offer up tips on planning a faultless Christmas shindig. Her advice for nervous event planners? ‘Really think about who your guests are and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s about creating a space that people respond to in a positive way.’
Not every company is blessed with mountains of cash to spend on a Christmas function, but a tight budget is no excuse for a bland party. Cullen recommends focusing on smaller details: ‘I’ve been using lots of balloon work recently, such as arches and clusters, as balloons are a relatively easy and inexpensive way to add impact to your event. Church candles or tea lights used en masse can also have a really huge impact, but obviously you have to be very safety conscious when using candles!’ Personal touches can go a long way too. ‘If you’re having a seated meal, everybody appreciates something handwritten, such as place names, and it’s nice to allocate budget to a gift or memento for everyone to take home. It’s a lovely extra that people aren’t expecting and it’s really nice when people have something to remember the evening by.’
Another dilemma is whether to pick a theme, and if so, should it be subtle or not? In Cullen’s eyes, you should go all in. ‘A loose theme isn’t helpful, especially when it comes to things like the dress code. If you’re going to theme it, make it clear to your suppliers – then everyone will have an idea of how to achieve that. Go bold or go home!’ However you choose to host your party, Cullen stresses one thing in particular: you really must enjoy it. ‘An event’s longevity is determined by the memories of the people who attend, so it’s important that you choose something that brings joy. It’s quite a bleak time politically and socially, so go hell for leather – this is Christmas, after all. And Christmas should be fun.’
This year, you can expect to see lots more natural materials at parties, spurred on by the renewed global interest in sustainability. ‘I’ve definitely noticed a move away from artificiality into natural materials,’ says Cullen. ‘I’m seeing a lot more natural trees, garlands and wreaths, and lots of my clients now ask me about the provenance of things, such as the Christmas trees I’m using.’ Should parties be entirely dictated by trends, though? ‘It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. It might make sense for a Silicon Valley company to incorporate a piece of cutting-edge tech into their event, whereas a company with a rich heritage might prefer to go down the traditional route. It’s very important to think about what your guests will respond to.’
Christmas party decoration ideas
If you're ready to get organised and nail down the finer details of the festivities, it's time to pick a handful of perfect Christmas decoration ideas to help you shape the day you want. We've selected a few of the best Christmas decorations in the shops this year to help you narrow down your Christmas party aesthetics. Once you've built the basics you can keep adding little bits and bobs to work up to the perfect tablescape or party backdrop - think about extra touches like confetti scattered along the table or scented candles to finish things off nicely.
Knowing where to start when it comes to actually buying Christmas decorations can be overwhelming, we get it. With so many glittery baubles, glass ornaments and life-size reindeer statues it can be hard to stick to one theme properly. We’ve tried to make your life as easy as possible by giving you some décor inspo to get things started, but if all else fails, just remember, stick to the theme.
Ultimate Green & Berry Wreath
What’s Christmas without a wreath? This stunning example from The White Company is guaranteed to make a big impact and it can be used time and time again, making it an investment piece worth the spend. This is the largest wreath in the retailer’s range, and looks just as good creating a focal point in a blank canvas space (we think this would look great on a wall behind a dining table) or the ideal welcome strung up in a traditional way on a front door.
Buy it, £375.00, thewhitecompany.com
All Things Brighton Beautiful Over The Table Rod
If you’re looking to make a big impact on a budget, this is the ideal accoutrement to have in your armoury. You simply screw the rods to each end of a table and then decorate the cross bar to create a wintery wonderland with real or faux foliage. If you wanted to mix things up you could even string balloons, baubles or fairy lights along it instead – the options are endless. Once the season of goodwill is over for another year you can use the bars for birthdays, or even set it up in your kitchen to dry herbs or flowers from.
Buy it, £49.95, notonthehighstreet.com
Fir and Rosehip Glitter Garland
With a subtle sparkle and tons of texture, this pretty Christmas garland is the perfect thing to use to decorate a long table or a mantlepiece and is enough of a statement to use solo or could be built around to create an in-depth theme. There’s even a matching wreath if you fancy completing the line-up, and because the piece is made from plastic pinecones, berries and fir it’ll last year after year.
Buy it, £65.00, libertylondon.com
All Things Brighton Beautiful Candy Cane Balloon Christmas Tree
A quick and easy way to make an impact is to call in help from the balloon cavalry. Despite its impressive aesthetics, this actually takes minutes to come together and will transform any space. Because you inflate the balloons on site, this is perfect for stashing away for decorating a hired venue, giving you big impact without any heavy lifting required. Classic festive colours have been given a contemporary lift with a touch of aqua, and the fun candy cane additions finish things off nicely for a light-hearted Christmas decoration idea.
Buy it, £29.95, notonthehighstreet.com
Felt Mistletoe Garland
This sweet mistletoe garland has timeless appeal and is made from felt for a natural, rustic finish. Certified Fair Trade and handmade in Nepal, this is a Christmas decoration you’d reach for year on year. Wherever you’re hosting your Christmas celebrations at home, in the office or at a venue this year, this is light enough to be tucked into a bag to dress tables, doors or mantlepieces to give any little space a spruce up.
Buy it, £29.95, libertylondon.com
Melanie Porter Christmas Tree Fairy Light String
Bring the ambiance this Christmas by giving your festive celebrations a glow with the help of some novelty lights. The word novelty might instil a sense of dread in most of us, but Melanie Porter has carefully designed her take on things to be creative rather than gaudy. We love the twists and turns of the cables that create a little forest of trees along any surface – from the back of a bar through to the centrepiece of a dining table. There’s also a silver option for metallic fans.
Buy it, £29.50, notonthehighstreet.com
Summer Lane Studio Vegetable Seed Packet Eco Gift Set
Show friends, family or colleagues that you care this Christmas with a little something extra at their place setting. We love these sweet bundles of vegetables seeds that have fun puns on the packets and they come with the additional bonus of being the ideal talking point for a quick ice breaker. With brussels sprouts, carrot and pea seeds, these are quick, easy crops to grow too and could even kick off the start of a green-fingered growing competition for the year ahead. Each one comes neatly gift wrapped, taking the hard work out of things for you.
Buy it, £14.95, notonthehighstreet.com
All Things Brighton Beautiful Set Of Four Christmas Wreath Name Place Cards
The finishing touches are what take your Christmas décor to the next level, ensuring guests know you’ve thought of every last detail. These dainty little place names can be reused year after year, and offer a personalised element on your table as well as a favour of sorts, if you allow guests to take them home with them. You’ll need your best handwriting for these ones though, as they come with blank cards for you to fill in yourself.
Buy it, £13.95, notonthehighstreet.com
Meri Meri Candy Cane Piñata Favour Pack x 3
Filled with confetti and temporary tattoos, these pinata candy canes would make fun place settings or even a sweet Secret Santa. There’s room in them to add extra little treats too should you wish to shower friends, family or colleagues in gifts this Christmas. At 19cm long they’re sure to make a big impact on your tablespace and bring a little extra glitz and glam to Christmas this year.
Buy it, £11.95, harveynichols.com
20 Pack Glass Luxury Baubles
Sometimes the classics are the best, and there’s no more effective Christmas decoration idea (in our opinion) than a gorgeous display of luxury festive baubles. These glass ones from M&S are a contemporary take on a traditional design and would work perfectly with most Christmas party themes, adding a bit of subtle sparkle to proceedings. At under £1 a bauble these offer an affordable way to deck the halls on a budget without sacrificing on style.
Buy it, £19.50, marksandspencer.com
How to create a party atmosphere
Once you've got the decorations sorted for your Christmas party, you'll then want to think about the ambiance and details like the food and drinks or entertainment. Below, Sally gives us an insight into a few tips and tricks she uses to ensure guests feel welcome at any event, including her thoughts on how to fragrance a space for an additional level of sensory indulgence.
The most important part of planning a Christmas party is making sure your event has mass appeal. In order to ensure everyone’s kept happy, Cullen recommends focusing on helping people to unwind. ‘Anything where you can make people feel relaxed is good – making sure lighting is kept fairly low, for instance, and ensuring the space is easy to access and that there are no diffcult spaces to get through.’ It might seem obvious, but food and drink are also of the utmost importance. ‘It’s essential to make sure that people are fed well and that they have access to drinks, whether alcoholic or not. Either provide long buffet tables or make sure there are lots of staff on hand to serve everyone – that normally keeps people happy.’ You can incorporate your theme into the food you serve too. ‘I think the two are really tied together. If you’re using lots of foliage, you could include micro herbs on the canapés, or if you’re going with a gold theme, there are plenty of edible gold options to add to sweet canapés. It’s nice to have some kind of correspondence between what people are eating and what they’re looking at.’
It’s not all about taste and sight, though: consider other senses too. ‘Smell is such a great way of igniting people’s emotions, so I always recommend using fragrance in some way,’ says Cullen. ‘You can have a scent like fir oil and it will feel like you’re in a pine forest, or something more subtle like cinnamon, so it feels as if you’re walking into a Christmas kitchen. Fragrance is often overlooked, but people find it really transports them away from the here and now.
These days, it’s nigh on impossible to host an event without thinking how it will translate to Instagram, but be wary of gimmicks. ‘Whatever you choose needs to be relevant. It’s great if you can do something new and unexpected, but don’t do it for the sake of novelty.’ The same can be said for technology, with the rise of AR and VR at events. ‘I styled a Christmas event once where there was a labyrinth of lights at the entrance that you had to negotiate and the sequencing was changing all the time,’ says Cullen. ‘It was a great gimmick, but it ended up frustrating people. I think there’s a fine line between doing something that’s stimulating and just doing it for gimmick’s sake. There’s a temptation to use tech because it’s new and fascinating but the priority should be to ensure that it fits within the party.’
3 Fail-safe Christmas party themes
Looking to keep things on track with your Christmas party decorations this year? The best way to make a big impact, like Sally says, is to stick to the theme. While there are quite literally limitless Christmas party decoration ideas that you could go for, we think these three are the classic trio that are pretty much failsafe for any crowd.
- Black and white: Keep things chic with a monochromatic dress code and muted decor.
- Metallic: Silvers and golds with plenty of sparkle will ensure a glamorous do.
- Red and green: Stick to the classic and let your guests revel in old-school nostalgia
Now you've got your decorations sorted, take a look at our round up of the best Christmas hampers to treat clients, colleagues, friends and family to