by Vix Brenninkmeijer
Interior designer, stylist and sustainability champion Vix Brenninkmeijer shares the latest thinking and most stylish and sustainable ways to enjoy Christmas in your home.
Vix pictured here preparing for Christmas with her extraordinary hand fabricated illuminated metal Christmas tree she brought back from Mexico. Vix is wearing her made to measure Ridley London Octavia maxi dress in the statement Wisley blossom metallic Liberty print silk.
I absolutely adore Christmas, it’s such a special time and my children are still at the age where they’re genuinely excited. Nothing heightens the sense of occasion like a beautifully dressed tree or a stylish Christmas table. Most importantly, the decorating process is an easy and affordable way to project your personal style, and an opportunity to bring the family together, displaying your unique family traditions and memories along the way. It is also a time to be mindful of the waste that Christmas can produce. I have a few ideas to help make the most of this special time while being conscious of more sustainable choices without compromising on festive fabulousness!
The Christmas Tree
The centre piece of a home decorated for Christmas - with all those eyes gazing at it and wishing ALL the presents under it are for them (me)! Whether you chose a faux tree to bring out year after year or the scent and mess of the real thing, there are lots of ways to make choices that are gentle on our planet, without compromising on style. Did you know you can rent a real tree? Eco Elf will deliver your chosen tree, advise you on the best way to care for it and collect it for you afterwards. Freecycle can help you source and rent a Christmas Tree that’s then re-planted and re-used. If you’d like to buy a real one, best to get one that has been grown in the UK and there are some great farms like https://wylds-farm-christmas-trees.co.uk/ If your tree is carefully re-planted, composted or chipped then its environmental impact can remain relatively low. When buying a faux tree, the advice is to commit to it for at least 10 years, thus balancing the impact of your carbon footprint. Oncor make faux trees from 100% reused PVC plastic and a percentage of their sales go to FTP (For The Planet). This is the best way to ‘Go Faux’ says the HuffPost. LED tree lights are now brilliant and the only way to go as they use far less energy (calculated at 5p per week) and last far longer. Warm white LED lights from Lights4fun look great and last for 100,000 hours of use, so if you’re running them for 6 hours a day over the 30 day Christmas period means they'll last for several lifetimes lightsforfun.co.uk
Vix pictured here |(top left) in her kitchen wearing a Ridley London printed floral silk Livia midi dress with a decorated vase of Pussy Willow. (Top right) Vix wearing her full length tailored Ridley London Opera Coat with her customised re-usable sustainable wreaths. (Bottom) There's now a fantastic array of sustainably produced trees, LED lights and decorations available
There was a trend some years back for Christmas tree fashion, changing your tree’s styling and decorations for the latest on-trend look each year. Thankfully times change and today's buzzwords are definitely ‘authenticity' and ‘storytelling’. Similar to how you dress or style your home, I believe your tree decorations express who you are. We lived abroad for fifteen years in diverse and far away countries and have amassed a collection of ornaments that come out. We have inherited ones my grandparents used, combined with those my children have made and others collected from around the world. Each holds memories and not all are ‘classically’ beautiful but mean the world to me! Bringing decorations out year after year makes for a Christmas unique to our family, with stories behind each piece. If you’re buying decorations, go for things that really appeal that you know you’re going to want to hang onto. The National Trust have a beautiful selection of eco-friendly decorations which don’t compromise on style @nationaltrust.org.uk And my TopTip? Let the children decorate the tree - then spend the evening redoing the look to your satisfaction once they are in bed!
A beautifully decorated table really sets the scene for your Christmas dinner. Whatever you’re serving will look it’s best against a gorgeous festive backdrop. Being mindful of waste and environmental impact, it makes sense to invest in pieces you can envisage using year after year. An idea for beautiful cloth napkins is to mark each one so all diners have their own to keep and reuse is a great idea. Some people use monograms, but I sew a coloured bead in the corner of each one, so people know whose is whose. Family members can keep them for each meal thus saving on paper napkin disposal. Ribbon tied in a bow is a gorgeous alternative to napkin rings and the best ribbon comes from V V Rouleaux. It can be kept for used for years to come and takes little storage space. These Ridley napkins and table runners are fabulous and can be made up in your fabric of choice. I love a table runner; they seem to have a much longer clean life span than a tablecloth. And a big shout out to brilliant brand Mpira who make amazing, recycled Christmas crackers which are full of lovely things you actually want! Every piece is up cycled from materials that would have gone to landfill and the African ladies who make them get paid a good living wage.
Table Decorating: Vix is pictured here wearing a statement Ridley London printed floral metallic silk maxi dress getting her table ready for Christmas. Her treasured collection of crockery is colour co-ordinated with a customised set of Ridley Liberty Print cotton napkins and table runner
Lots of wrapping paper is not recyclable but there are plenty of options available that are. Wearth London specialised in not only recyclable paper but also organic cotton reusable gift wrap. This zero waste option costs the same as regular wrapping paper and will last for years. Wearthlondon.com From a frugal stance, my Dad insisted on us unwrapping our presents VERY carefully so we could reuse all the wrapping paper - so really ripping into a present has always felt so decadent ever since!
I happen to think plain brown parcel paper (recyclable) can look very chic tied with satin ribbon – getting busy with red sealing wax and stamps is really fun too and adds a bit of Dickensian glamour to the pile under the tree. Using more ribbon, cord or string and less Sellotape also helps with recycling aspect. For this I send you back to V V Rouleaux for the most opulent ribbon there is.
The gift of experiences leaves no trace and involves no wrapping – my teenagers have expressed an interest in learning to scuba dive, so the gift of the experience of a PADI course would work for them. Also, the World Wildlife Fund run a brilliant animal adoption plan and if you are struggling with present ideas, is a lovely way of giving and doing good. And what child wouldn’t want a giant panda or a snow leopard for Christmas?! Support.wwf.org.uk
Festive Floral Displays
Another way to introduce some special festive magic is with a great floral display. I absolutely love a big vase opulently filled with beautiful festive cut flowers with lots of holly and rich deep colours. I like mixing real holly branches with faux red berries I have that come out year on year. If you’re looking for a re-usable and sustainable alternative to using cut flowers, you can’t beat some Pussy Willow. It's such a useful and versatile way to decorate for Christmas (or any other season) I have mine around the house for much of the year as it looks glamorous and adds texture to a space in a vase. Once dry it lasts indefinitely and can be decorated with any theme of ornaments for any given holiday or celebration. For Halloween I have some Mexican Day of the Dead skulls and glittering pumpkins and bats, for Easter, eggs and rabbits and for Christmas, little baubles! You can wind in those tiny battery-operated fairy lights (the White Company do good ones) for extra twinkle.
Vix pictured here in her sitting room she designed wearing her made to measure Ridley London red leopard print silk chiffon maxi dress. (Top left) a collection of festive cushions by Jan Constantine
I have some simple faux wreaths which I use every year and embellish with baubles, ribbons, cinnamon sticks and dried oranges depending on my mood. I invested in good ones, and they hang beautifully on my door. When the season is over, I take off their adornments and pack them away for next year.
I love using festive cushion covers to liven up my sofa - considering that is where we spend much of our time, especially in the week between Christmas and New Year! I slip my Christmas cushion covers over my usual sofa cushions and and it is such a fun way of extra decoration. Jan Constantine has a particularly great selection of beautiful covers that have become part of our family Christmas story. She also makes fabulous, personalised Christmas stockings.
Vix is an interiors consultant with a truly curated approach, transforming your favourite objects, furniture, artwork, and spaces into a uniquely personal home. She has worked all over the world and now lives in London with her family. For more information on how she could help you visit her website www.vixstarella.com or her instagram @vixstarellastyle
Ridley London's new collection of special Christmas dresses, skirts, tops, jackets and knitwear is available to purchase online and in Ridley's Barnes store. Celebrate your individuality this season with a unique piece that's individually crafted to flatter from your choice of any of our stunning new printed floral or solid silks or cottons. Or call us to arrange a virtual fitting:
Ridley London, 82 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 0DQ T: 01730 823097