Feeling Festive With Christmas Styling Expert, Alana Arena
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas: the tree is up, we’ve started the advent calendar countdown, a wreath welcomes visitors at the door and the house is filled with music for our Marlo Girls to dance to in their darling Marlo holiday dresses.
The festive season is a time for creating magical memories for children. To help kick start the Christmas and Holiday season this year, we had help from the lovely Christmas Styling Expert, Alana Arena from Dancer & Dasher.
What are your three favourite things about Christmas?
It’s pretty difficult to whittle it down to three, but I’ll give it a go! The anticipation leading up to Christmas day is such an enriching feeling which is always enhanced by the carols playing in all the shopping centres. You know you’re only a few days out when Carols by Candlelight spectaculars are buzzing all around and when you switch the telly on and there is a British Christmas film playing on every station - that’s Christmas! Oh and I can’t go past my kids’ (and nieces and nephews) Christmas talent show, which they perform just before the gift giving on the day! It is adorable and we get a good belly-laugh out of it.
What’s your process for designing a tree?
I always have my eyes (and imagination) peeled for fresh ideas. Once we scope out the space, we decide on a concept and theme and work out our colour scheme. We then source main feature decorations, decide on the lighting embellishments and other items we will use to fill and create dimension in the tree. When the planning and curating is complete, it’s time for action!
Do you believe festive decorations in the home at Christmas time play an important part in creating lasting memories for both children and adults?
It is so important to create a magical ambience in the home whether it be with scent, music and of course your christmas decor. I truly believe this is how memories are made.
How do you decorate your home at Christmas time?
Christmas begins as you drive down our street at our place. My husband is an electrician so our outdoor Christmas lights are next level! My mantra is ‘more is more’ and so I love that it looks like Santa sprinkled glitter EVERYWHERE. Then you meet our front door where we have an annually themed door garland which frames our front porch. As you enter, you are met with many a trees, which I change my tree each year (so lucky I can do this with my job!).
I also decorate my dining room with gingerbread and peppermint tabletop decor. I bring out the Christmas throws and cushions, my doona and bed sheets also get festive and my bathrooms are every inch christmas with shower mats, hand towels and Christmas scented hand soaps. All very tasteful, but there is no mistaking that it is the festive season!
What does your own tree look like this year?
This year, my main tree is a traditional tree theme. It’s a rich green bristled tree filled entirely with red, gold and emerald green glass ornaments. We have added velvet holly garlands on our fireplace as well as a lifesize nutcracker who stands beside the tree and a gorgeous oversized reindeer which is placed slightly under the tree. I'm not usually a red and gold gal to be honest (I’m besotted with the whimsical themes) but after creating so many traditional themes, the red has finally taken my fancy. I'm really loving it this year!
Christmas Tree: real or fake?
Fake, definitely. Keep the real ones in the ground! If it’s the smell you’re after, sparking a spiced pine candle can do the trick. You can’t beat the strong, plump tendrils of an artificial tree.
How can you mix up the colour scheme at Christmas, so each year has its own personality (without the need to buy everything new again)?
Pick a colour scheme that has options. For example, start with metallics as the base colour, then add hints of complementary colour, which gives you the option to swap it out if you want to change it the following year. That way, you're not having to purchase a whole new collection of decorations when you want to spice up your tree.
Can you share your top tips for decorating the Christmas table?
Invest in beautiful tabletop decor. Keep your table simple with a few large stand out pieces.
Is it better to start with a centre feature for the Christmas table as inspiration and work around that, or decide on colours/theme first and then look for items that fit?
I think it's easier to find a key decorating piece/s that you love then complement them with your tableware, glassware and napery in whatever colour/theme tickles your fancy for the year.
What are some ways to include the kids when decorating?
Get them to decorate the back of the tree! Ha! In all seriousness, have them help you decorate then touch up the tree after they have gone to bed (I do it all the time!). Another option is to have a small tree in their toy room or bedroom which they can be the master of. This gives them autonomy over the look and feel of their tree which they are always so proud of. I often watch them emulating my tree decorating habits that they’ve inherited from being part of the festive fun, which makes me so proud!