Festive Family Christmas With Balsam Hill

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that last year we went for a faux Christmas tree for the first time. And much to my surprise, we all loved it.

I was not expecting to be such a convert to be honest, though I definitely did miss the smell of the real thing, but that was the only downside - I may buy some off-cuts to decorate the bannister this year to make up for it and have the best of both worlds.

I loved that our beautiful faux tree didn't drop any pine needles - lets face it, even the so called non-drop varieties still drop. I loved that it looked perfect until it was time to take it down, that it didn't lean precariously to one side - or fall over for that matter, and the kids loved that it went up earlier and not at the last minute. The jury is still out on that one for me, but I was happy that the kids were happy!

Oh, and did I mention it was pre-lit? That's a total game changer actually, as in the past an even spread of fairy lights was completely unachievable for me with my very limited patience for things like that. I'll paint a room for days, but if fairy lights aren't immediately perfect, I'm out.

This year I've teamed up with Balsam Hill again this year for their Festive Family Christmas campaign to showcase some more of their fab products.

I had planned to go much more pared back with my decorating theme this year - well for this test round anyway, but alas, the pink and gold was calling me and I was powerless to resist! I seem to have ended up with a fairy wonderland theme, with a bit of black and white stripe and matt gold thrown in for balance. Honestly, when I thought about going really pared back, I realised my kids would be really disappointed, and what really matters at Christmas is them. So pared back can wait.

Besides, the pink and gold theme ties in beautifully with the freshly painted front door (and its new brass hardware), and I absolutely love the way the beautiful wreath looks on it. I added some faux glitter berries to it which really pop with the door, but I love that this wreath is beautifully simple on its own, or can be jazzed up in any number of ways too - with ribbon, fresh eucalyptus or even faux or fresh flowers.

The theme this year is fun family traditions, and whilst I didn't think we had any to share, I've realised that we actually do have a few. Perhaps I'm more of a traditionalist than I thought...

A relatively new family tradition is a trip to the flower market the Sunday before Christmas to stock up on crazy amounts of eucalyptus, and if I can find any, ornamental baby pineapples and pink proteas. These are my all time favourite things to have in the house, at any time of year, but Christmas is the one time I don't feel too guilty buying them as the latter two are super pricey!

It's not a given that there will be any of the latter two, but I'm sure I'll find something else lovely to pop on the sideboard and dining table if not. And eucalyptus actually goes a long way in making up for the lack of pine scent too.

My mother will be here this year for the flower market trip which is lovely for many reasons - not least an extra pair of hands to carry the loot back home!

Another tradition is home made mince pies - though I don't use a traditional recipe (I use Nigella's one from her brilliant Christmas book in case you're wondering), and does it count as a tradition that I traditionally make them really last minute? Let's say yes!

My husband and Edie (our 14 year old) usually take a trip into town to look at the Christmas windows at Selfridges on Christmas Eve, but now that Baxter is seven I don't think that's going to cut it as he'll want to go too. Maybe he and I can start a new tradition of making christmas biscuits together at home instead. Or maybe we'll all go - my favourite shopping destination at Christmas time is definitely the Selfridges - particularly the food hall.

I also do a Christmas Cocktail each year which I need to start planning to share here on my blog, and I always make a giant Pavlova too. In fact I think this year that the kids definitely need to get involved with that.

One tradition that we don't have, and that I'd really like to introduce this year is a yearly Christmas family photo. We have precious little photos of us all together at any point in the year, so starting this year we're going to get dressed up (when I say 'dressed up' I'm not talking Black Tie, I'm talking less scruffy and not paint splattered!) and attempt a family portrait. And what better place to do that, than in front of the Christmas tree? Or perhaps on the doorstep in front of the newly pink door with the beautiful wreath. If we manage to get just one photograph with all of us looking at the camera that we're all happy with, it will be nothing short of a Christmas miracle. So here's hoping!

So having realised that we have traditions after all, I'd love to hear about yours in the comments too!

Featured Products:

7' LED Clear Silverado Slim
Mongolian Faux Fur Tree Skirt 72"
Ombre - Bauble Set
Etched - Bauble Set
Ivory Magnolia Picks
Snowflake Tree Topper
Frosted Pinecone Wreath

This post is collaboration with Balsam Hill.

Holiday Table Decor

Incase you haven't heard, it's Christmas on Thursday. My mother, who I don't get to see nearly enough, arrived on Friday to spend Christmas and New Year with us. She's come all the way from New Zealand, so I want Christmas day to be extra special, and as Christmas day pretty much revolves around food, that means making the table look extra beautiful. It's the least I can do, considering how far she's come for lunch. I want it to feel über cosy, and a little bit glam, but still relaxed and informal.

Styling & Photography Bianca Hall
Chairish asked if I'd like to take a look at their latest collection of vintage table top pieces and design a table scheme around a couple of items. Um, let me think about that. OKAY!

If you're not familiar with Chairish, sort that out pronto. It's a fabulous site that sells a curated selection of vintage goods on commission, ranging from gifts and jewellery, to furniture, rugs and lighting. Browsing Chairish is a bit like falling down a beautifully furnished rabbit hole. On any given day, I fall in love with 95% of what I see, so it's a good job for my bank account then, that I'm not in the states!

As I don't physically have any of the lovely pieces from Chairish to photograph on my Christmas table, this post is half fact and half fantasy...

Styling & Photography Bianca Hall
My colour palette this year is neon pink (no surprises there!), pale flamingo pink, green and gold. Our dining table is stainless steel and can feel rather cold, so I'll be starting to layer the table up with a soft linen table cloth, which instantly adds warmth whilst keeping it casual. On top of this, a hand dyed Shibori style table runner in a beautiful pale flamingo pink. More on this easy DIY soon. I also made a matching set of napkins, which will sit upon simple white plates, tied with gold ribbon and adorned with a sprig of eucalyptus.

Speaking of greenery, no holly or mistletoe for me this year. I've gone for a mix of Eucalyptus, Protea and ornamental Pineapples. The lovely muted green of the Eucalyptus contrasts so well with the neon pink, and works beautifully with the gold and paler pinks too.

It's no secret that I'm a big pineapple fan, so obviously I had to include these on my Christmas table. After all, not only are they brilliant eye-candy, but they're a symbol of hospitality, so perfect for this time of year when welcoming family and friends into your home.

My trip to Columbia Road Flower Market yesterday with my husband, children and mother, was not exactly relaxing - it was heaving - the busiest I've ever seen it, and it was no fun at all being stuck in the hordes of people, often at a complete standstill. However, I came away with everything I went for which is always satisfying (thanks to my daughter who spotted the ornamental pineapples that I'd missed and showed me where they were).

As I'm a glutton for punishment, I also headed for Ikea, which wasn't actually so bad. I arrived 15 minutes before closing time, with a very specific shopping list (for once), which included some of their bargain priced faux sheepskins for throwing over the backs of our school style dining chairs to cosy them up and add a bit of luxe.

I picked up a couple of great gold geometric candle sticks at Habitat a few weeks ago, that look gorgeous (and much more expensive than they were) with neon pink candles in them. These will be nestled amongst the greenery, along with some battery powered fairy lights on copper wire, which are my new favourite thing.

I adore vintage glasses, so my fantasy addition from Chairish, are these stunning Baccarat Crystal Onde Wine Glasses. Mine though, as anyone that knows me knows, will contain a cocktail rather than wine. And there will be edible gold flakes in it. Of course.

Baccarat Crystal Onde Wine Glasses from Chairish
I couldn't just choose the glasses though, because my table setting really needs these too...

Crystal Hostess (that's me!) Flatware Set from Chairish
Saint Louis 'Bizet' Crystal Water Jug from Chairish
Oh, and those stunning agate coasters up there in the pretty collage? They might just be under the Christmas tree waiting for me to tear open and feign surprise at on Christmas morning.

Styling & Photography Bianca Hall
So that's how I'm rolling this Christmas. My husband is worried there's nowhere for the food to go. Duh! That's what the butler is for.

Happy holidays everyone!

P.S In case you're wondering, this is not a sponsored post, just a bit of fun. I do love playing fantasy interiors...

P.P.S Come back soon to see how I made my table runner and napkins. Another very satisfying DIY.