Lifestyle blogger Monika Hibbs gives her home a fresh look for Christmas. Credits: Tracey Ayton
For lifestyle blogger Monika Hibbs, Christmas is all about sentiment and style. Here are 12 ways she pulls off a fresh look filled with meaning to commemorate a family milestone.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without family and tradition, sure, but in Monika Hibbs’s home, Christmas also wouldn’t be complete without her signature styling. Based just outside of Fort Langley, B.C., the blogger, who has quickly become a master of holiday decor, switches up her style almost every year. But regardless of the theme, these aspects always remain: A classic look and neutral scheme, metallic touches, a hint of whimsy and sheer covetability. Seasonal styling is a talent Monika has honed since she was a little girl. “Even when I was young, I loved adorning the tree and wrapping gifts,” she says. “Plus, my mom always let me be in charge of floral arrangements and tablescapes.”
Now that Monika has her own family (including hubby Troy, three-year-old Liam and 11- month-old Lillya), she shares the tasks with her children. “Liam’s really into it,” says Monika. “He decorates cookies, hangs ornaments and arranges the manger.” Though Lillya is too young to get involved, her arrival just two weeks before last Christmas inspired the entire feminine theme, executed with dusty rose-hued accents like tea light holders, wrapping paper and delicate raw silk ribbon.
Holiday decorating with the kids isn’t the only tradition the Hibbses have – they enjoy hot chocolate by their outdoor fireplace in the evenings and always make time for charity. But a highlight is taking the Bright Nights Christmas Train through Stanley Park with Troy’s family. “There’s around 60 of us – we fill the whole train,” says Monika, noting that the park is lit with millions of lights – perhaps the perfect place for this family-oriented champion of Christmas who also happens to have a penchant for sparkle.
1 Lifestyle blogger and unofficial queen of fresh and elegant holiday decor Monika Hibbs has three main tips for trimming a tree: Start with a colour scheme (“You don’t have to use every ornament in your box – save the ones that don’t suit your theme for another year,” she advises); instead of buying one-off ornaments, go for groups of three for visual impact; and organize them by category (like glass balls or felted figures) before hanging them to ensure balanced distribution.
2 “There’s something special about a fire this time of year,” says Monika. The one here in her family room is not the only staple flame of the season – tea lights are strewn on surfaces throughout the house, and the outdoor fireplace plays host to many a morning coffee or evening cocoa. “I love a fire’s warmth and random crackles, which add to the magic of the holidays.”
3 Style meets sentiment in chic pieces that commemorate family milestones, such as the decorative houses arranged on Monika’s fireplace mantel. “Each one represents a huge moment for us, from the purchase of our first home to the construction of this one,” she says. “And I write a note on the bottom of each so I never forget.”
4 Monika doesn’t switch out much of her everyday decor come Christmastime. In fact, furniture placement, artwork and accents mostly stay the same, save for a few toss cushions that get traded for more festive ones.
5 When it comes to garlands, Monika goes all out: She orders a massive length of fresh cedar (last year it was 75 feet!) to string along her banister, mantel, exterior trim and garage. She starts by measuring everything she wants to adorn and then adds an extra foot of cedar for every four feet to accommodate swag. Here, the garland is garnished with eucalyptus, cypress, pine cones and raw silk bows with cascading tails for a fresh, feminine look.
6 “You don’t need to cook an entire sit-down dinner for each of the season’s many parties,” says Monika, who prefers to prep for a holiday drop-in with comfort foods like homemade apple pie. “It’s elegant but cozy,” she explains.
7 Roses may be unconventional Christmas flowers, but they’re perfectly suited to Monika’s pretty-in-pink theme. “Originally, I wanted this piece to be a garland that wrapped around the whole range hood,” says Monika. “But it didn’t look right, so I downsized the idea. It’s perfect proof that sometimes less is more.”
8 A simple wreath hung with thick ribbon serves as another example of less is more and offers a wink of holiday spirit in an otherwise unadorned area.
9 Sparkling rosé served in pink champagne coupes underscores the holiday colour scheme, while whimsical details like frozen-rose ice cubes and sugared cranberries are easy and inexpensive ways to add serious wow factor.
10 No matter her holiday scheme, Monika tends to stick to neutrals when picking gift wrap. “I usually choose paper with subtle patterns, such as snowflakes or polka dots,” she says. “But I always wrap the kids’ presents in something more playful.”
11 Born six weeks after the Hibbses moved into this house and two weeks before Christmas, baby Lillya was the main source of inspiration for the home’s festive decor last year, marked by the powder pink and dusty rose accents with feminine touches. Monika purchased the “Hello Lovely” ornament in honour of Lillya’s birth to serve as a beautiful reminder of when they welcomed her into the world.
12 From the Fort Langley, B.C., shopping bag to the plaid scarf and blanket to the warm winter boots and even the skull mount, there’s always a hint of Canadiana in Monika’s winter decor.
Festive and fabulous decorating inspiration for your holiday table this year includes glam touches, Scandinavian accents, and easy DIYs to wow your guests.
Creating a holiday tablescape that wows can be as easy as 1-2-3. Check out our favourite festive table settings for 2016, as well as the straightforward DIYs that make them come to life.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: GOLD GLAM TABLESCAPE: Make your holiday table sparkle and shine this season by setting it in glamorous gold.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: RUSTIC SCANDINAVIAN TABLESCAPE: Bring a taste of the Norse pole to your table with elegant Scandi-chic rustic elements.
A dinner party that has guests raving for days is all in the details. Take this masterfully muted, fashionably festive and quietly romantic rustic Scandinavian tablescape. We love its creamy taupe, linen white and pale minty green colour scheme – a fresh take on tradition topped with subtle seasonal elements like sprigs of fresh evergreen and soft touches of gold. But even better are the elements you don’t notice at first glance like the effortless DIYs that even an uncrafty hostess can easily achieve. Here are the highlights.
You’ve outdone yourself with this year’s holiday tablescape, but don’t overlook your chairs! What a perfect place to underscore your seating arrangement with ready-made mini buntings stencilled with snowflakes. Each topped with a gift tag and a sprig of greenery, the unexpected adornments are an easy way to add extra details that are sure to impress guests.
These sweet place cards are not only wintry and whimsical, they’re also easy and inexpensive to execute: Simply tie a handwritten gift tag to a wooden toy sleigh (which, like the rest of the supplies, can be found at any craft store) with ribbon or yarn that matches your holiday colour scheme. Top it off with two FERRERO ROCHER® chocolates to treat guests with a decadent sweet to enjoy later – and maybe even dub you the host with the most!
Candles are key to tabletop mood lighting, but these festive votives look just as fabulous when they’re not lit. Gussied up with burlap wrap effortlessly secured by a tiny tree-shaped clothespin and a deer-stamped strip of cotton, they lend a quintessentially rustic-chic vibe. Frayed edges keep this craft virtually fuss-free but also require the use of battery-powered tea lights rather than open flames.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: DESSERT TRAY DIY PROJECT: Serve guests in style with the help of this super simple marbled tray DIY.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: SLEIGH PLACE CARD HOLDERS DIY PROJECT: Inspired by the man in red himself, these DIY FERRERO ROCHER® bearing sleigh place card holders are easy, playful and – best of all – delectable.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: STYLISH SLIPKNOT MENU DIY PROJECT: Create gorgeous slipknot menu cards your guests are sure to love.
Credits: Maya Visnyei
VIDEO: FESTIVE WRAPPED VOTIVE DIY: Add a festive flair to your holiday table with these adorable wrapped votive candle holders.
Learn to make your own green curry at home.
A spicy Thai-style meal with chicken, green curry paste and vegetables.
Green Curry Paste (makes 1-1/2 cups)
1 Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a hot skillet for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant, then grind in a mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife blade.
2 Place the spices in a food processor, along with the garlic, shallots, cilantro roots, green chilies, galangal, lemongrass hearts, lime leaves and water.
3 Pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until a paste forms. Heat 1/4 cup of the green curry paste in a skillet over medium heat.
4 Add the chicken and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until just beginning to brown. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and shrimp paste and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
5 Add the peas, corn and red finger chilies and cook for about 2 more minutes, until the snow peas are tender-crisp. Stir in the lime zest and juice, basil and cilantro serve over rice.
Prep and cook time: 1 hour
Tip: Galangal is a member of the ginger family, with a similar - but much more potent - flavour that pairs well with South East Asian cooking. Buy it in its root form, and peel and slice it with a very sharp knife.
House tour: Timeless and modern Christmas
At Style at Home senior style editor Ann Marie Favot's midtown Toronto house, Christmas is lovingly created by hand with both budget and elegance in mind.
It’s hard not to get carried away when hosting a holiday feast: formal table settings, complete with chargers and centrepieces, party favours and place cards, oh my! Trees are decorated to the nines, gifts are wrapped so beautifully you never want to open them and glittering decorations capture everyone’s eye, whichever way they happen to glance. This time of year, over the top can be an understatement, and inhibitions about spending seem to soar out the window.
But Style at Home’s senior style editor, Ann Marie Favot, has found that fine holiday balance. She hosts some of the most elegant affairs featuring personalized menus, signature drinks, two trees and gold and blue accents – everywhere. Yet the look is refined, the decor tasteful and the price tag minimal. After all, savvy Annie does a lot of it by hand and on a budget. It’s no Christmas miracle that it all looks so beautiful.
A small faux tree in the entryway sets the party’s tone for arriving guests. What does it say? The pretty champagne-coloured ice bucket holding the tree: “This is a somewhat formal affair.” The luxe sheepskin it’s set upon: “But we’ll make sure you feel comfortable while you’re here.” The ornaments hung from the tree with ribbon instead of the wire they came with: “Extra handmade effort went into this event.” All in all, it says, “This is Christmas. And a chic one at that.”
Make a statement on your staircase – especially if it’s in the entryway. Here’s an easy way to do so that looks glitzy and expensive but costs very little in terms of time and money: Suspend a multi-stringed beaded garland along your banister using white ribbon. Wire together trios of ornaments and attach them to the ribbon. Tuck in gilded leaves for extra flourish and – voila! You’re the queen of Christmas crafts.
Here lies proof that a topper isn’t the most essential element for a decorated tree. On Annie’s evergreen, the perfectly coordinated ornaments stand for themselves, and a topper would have just drawn onlookers’ eyes away from those efforts. So put away that oversized star or handcrafted Christmas angel, and leave your treetop au naturel. It has a humble country look that complements Annie’s contemporary space. Don’t be afraid to switch out your everyday decor for the seasonal stuff, says Annie. Here, she simply removed a piece of artwork from her gallery wall and replaced it with a gold metal wreath hung from a pretty blue ribbon. She didn’t need to make a new hole in her wall, and her holiday decorations seem to seamlessly blend in with what’s always been there, for a look that’s festive but far from over the top.
When homeowner and Style at Home senior style editor Ann Marie Favot hosts a dinner for family or friends, Christmastime or not, she likes to keep everyone's glasses full. But ducking in and out of the kitchen means she misses out on her guests' anecdotes and punchlines, so she creates a bar station in the room where the action happens. On her dining room console, Annie used a simple gold tray to corral her bar elements, then she selected a signature drink to serve guests. "To be honest, I chose this cocktail because it matched my palette," she says.
Last Christmas’s boxwood wreaths dried out over the course of the year and, at first, Annie considered tossing them out. But, ever the inventive decorista, she had an idea: She could turn misfortune into fortune by spray-painting the browning wreaths gold – a quick trick that both prevents them from crumbling and also reinforces her holiday colour palette.
The dining table is beautifully set with an air of formality at a casual price. Craft store gift tags were turned into place cards with the wave of a gold pen, while menus were made from plain card stock with the courses handwritten on each and a decorative label placed at the top. It’s a personal touch that doesn’t require spending a fortune at the printer’s.
From the gifts to the tabletop decor, the beautiful blue and gold colour palette is reinforced right down to the napkins.
Cohesion is key to constructing a grouping of stylishly wrapped presents. Annie chose four coordinating papers in solid colours and subtle patterns, and created easy cards and toppers to make them stand out. Instead of buying pricey gift tags, she personalized plain white craft store ones with simple stickers, or placed sticky name tag labels directly on the gift wrap. She also played with layers of ribbon and twine on each gift in addition to using traditional bows.
Christmas crackers are often as pretty as they are fun to pop open, so why hide them away until the big dinner? Instead of filling a bowl with shimmery Christmas ornaments or rustic pinecones, Annie used gold crackers for an uncomplicated festive display. The bonus? With space at a premium during the holidays, it’s nice to be able to store stuff in plain sight without having it look like clutter.
It’s all in the details. Sure, this pretty toss cushion wasn’t brought out exclusively for Santa. But we love how Annie’s blue, white and gold Christmas scheme echoes her home’s everyday palette, right down to the smallest notion – like a gold zipper on a custom blue and white toss cushion.