Colin and Justin's 12 quick-fix solutions for holiday decorating
We love to entertain, particularly during the holidays. And for us, creating atmosphere is a critical starting point for everything that comes thereafter -- just try getting into the party mood if you haven't properly decked your halls. Try these 12 seasonal styling tips. Simple, but, hey, even at Christmas less is more!
1 Nothing sets the scene better than sweet aromas wafting through the air. Try scented candles -- these days, even supermarkets sell an assortment of fabulous olfactory delights. Or, back in bonny Scotland, we have an old but favourite trick: chuck a couple of vanilla pods into your log fire to promote mood.
2 As an alternative to standard name cards, tie Christmas gift tags displaying guests' names around the stems of wineglasses.
3 Wrap oranges with a cross of red ribbon and stud the flesh with cloves. Instantly gorgeous, and they smell better each day. After Christmas, once the oranges are completely dry, pop some into the back of your wardrobe to freshen your clothes.
4 Forget tradition -- indulge your senses with whatever colour combos you like. We're currently working on a festive aqua and silver living room and a marshmallow pink and duck-egg blue dining room.
5 Use gold- or silver-ink pens to write guests' names on extra-large leaves like those from a castor oil plant, and use as chargers under side plates.
6 Slip lottery tickets inside store-bought Christmas crackers as an extra surprise.
7 Arrange a snaking line of brightly coloured votive holders (with flickering candles in each) down the centre of your dining table. Simple but very effective.
8 Arrange white Christmas lights in a favourite glass vase as an instant conversation starter. Simply switch on and let the twinkling begin!
9 IKEA sells gorgeous glass prisms that will add sparkle to pretty much anything you like. Using fishing line, hang them from your tree or a light fixture, or arrange in an artistic grouping at your window.
10 To create a minimalist display, spray dried flowers white and silver, and arrange inside a large, clear tank vase filled with white pebbles.
11 Fireplaces should make a statement when Santa's on his way. Cram your mantel with pinecones, greenery and flickering tea lights. Dress with clementines and cinnamon-stick bundles tied with ribbon.
12 Our top Christmas shopping decor source? Dollar stores. We go wild in the aisles during the run up to the 25th. Candles, doilies, glassware -- the lot. Maybe it's the Scottish in us, but we love a bargain.
Colin and Justin in the kitchen
The boys share two recipes that are sure to fill your noses and tummies with Christmas cheer.
Homemade potpourri Evoke mood and memories in even the most Scrooge-like guests with your own potpourri. It couldn't be easier. First, cut two oranges into thin slices and arrange on a broiling pan. Bake in a medium hot oven, turning occasionally until bone dry. Allow to cool and pop into a freezer bag. Break a couple of cinnamon sticks into the mix and add a few drops of rose oil or your favourite aromatic essence. Close the bag, shake lightly and leave overnight. Finally, arrange in an attractive bowl.
Mulled wine For a good party, make sure you get the alcohol balance right. We're not saying you should get sloshed (mind you, it is Christmas!), but a wee, ahem, tincture makes all the difference. As guests arrive, serve them mulled wine in sparkly Moroccan tea glasses. Here's a tried- and- tested Colin and Justin recipe to bring even the dullest bottle of vin rouge to life: In a saucepan, bring a cup of lemonade to a boil. Stir in two tablespoons of honey, the juice of two oranges, six whole cloves and a couple of crumbled cinnamon sticks. Boil for five minutes. Add the wine, then simmer gently for another 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve, pour into glasses and be merry!