Banish the Winter Blues

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s nights grow ever longer we know winter is well on the way, but with some simple touches I will give you an insight into how to make your home a little brighter this Christmas. Lighting plays an important part in many religious festivals, symbolising hope and miracles. For centuries people have illuminated their homes with candles, until gas light was invented and then the electric light bulb. Whilst the primary  method of illumination may have changed from candles they still have an inviting warm glow about them that really create a lovely ambiance.

Candles always look best when placed in groups, tealights are the cheapest and most simple way to create a dramatic effect, but always ensure they are used in a glass votive for safety. For a more elegant look use glass hurricane lamps or jars with church candles, this is also great as it avoids spilt wax. At Christmas time scented candles really help create the festive mood, it can be a quick way to fragrance the home before guests arrive as well as looking enchanting. It is worth investing in quality candles as they burn more evenly, last longer and hold their fragrance.

Lights have been used at Christmas for hundreds of years; originally candles were used on Christmas trees, until the invention of fairy lights over 100 years ago. Fairy lights don’t only have to be used at Christmas; they look great all year round. It is becoming ever  popular to wrap trees and shrubs in the garden and leave the lights as they really enhance the look of the tree at anytime. Small shrubs and bushes can be lit using battery LED lights, they come with a timer and will illuminate during the hours of darkness and switch off during the day, with batteries lasting a month that is plenty long enough for Christmas.

Outdoor lights don’t have to be confined to fairy lights; spot lighting shrubs or trees is another way to add dramatic effect. Kits are available to help with DIY garden lighting or you can even get solar powered versions so no need for any cables. Lighting the roofline with icicle lights or large bulb string lights is a great way of outlining the house. Icicle lights create a magical frosty look while large bulb lights are more traditional.

To create a simple effect inside use a large vase and fill it with fairy lights, for an extra festive touch you can include some baubles. Similar effects to wrapping branches can be achieved inside the home with branches available from florists or simply cut from the garden wrapped with lights and placed in a vase; these look stunning all year round. To add a festive touch spray branches silver or gold and add baubles or dried fruit slices and cinnamon for a treat for the senses.

A well lit Christmas tree is always impressive and the best way to show off your decorations is to use plenty of lights; as a guide allow 80 lights per foot. Fix them deep in the tree and work them out to the edges to add definition
to the tree. If you find yourself every year trying to get the fairy lights to work, struggling to find the spare bulbs, it’s worth replacing them with LED ones. They last for years, are much brighter, use less power, and are much  safer as they don’t get hot. Available in a range of colours, for a traditional look use warm white to give the glow of clear fairy lights, while white are a very bright, modern alternative and look great with silver decorations.

Do remember when using candles to take care where they are placed and never leave unattended. With lights use low voltage and keep the transformer indoors following manufacturer instructions. Take care when using ladders, as it maybe a job better left to the professionals. A well lit home is a warm inviting home, so take the time this Christmas to make it sparkle.

By Alex Walters,

Creative Director at Christmas Creations

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