Decorating for the Festive Season with Christmas Inc.

Decorating for the festive season

It’s nearly time to start planning for Christmas! We spoke to a professional decorator to discover the do’s, don’ts, and trends for this year’s festive season.

Despite all the changes over the last year and a half, it hasn’t stopped the festive season creeping up on us. Once again, Christmas is right around the corner and it’s time to get cracking.

It’s often a stressful time of year, but when you have your business to prepare as well as your own personal celebrations, it can be even more so. 

We spoke to Clark Bearman, Director of Christmas Inc.; a company dedicated to the festive season who are hired to take care of all your business decorating needs. 

Christmas Inc. has been running for over ten years, making Clark the perfect person to help you prepare for the 2021 holiday season which is quickly approaching.  

Clark’s ten plus years in the Christmas industry makes him an expert and you can use his experience and knowledge to your advantage when decorating your very own hospitality business.

“I’d say about 90% of the hotels I’ve dealt with over the years, typically it’s someone in-house who has done the decorating,” said Clark.

“Depending on the size of the business, it might have been the handyman, the florist, or the owners and they use the same decorations that they’ve had for generations that just get stuffed into a cupboard at the end of the season.”

Whether you’re a small business planning on decorating your property yourself, or a larger property looking to hire someone else to take over, Chris highlights what to consider when preparing for Christmas.

Colour

“There’s a fine line between beautiful and tacky,” said Clark.

“I don’t think you can go wrong with traditional red and gold because it will never go out of fashion.”

Chris believes that red and gold are two very versatile colours that will go with every type of decor, whether your property is contemporary or old fashioned. 

Sticking to traditional colours and trends will work better long term.

“You do get some people who decide they want blue and silver one year, but even though it might work once, it will look really dated the following Christmas,” said Clark.

“Years ago, John Lewis started a trend where black Christmas trees were the ‘in’ thing and a lot of our clients wanted black trees.

“We tried to push people away from it. Yes it will be fun for that year, but next year they’d hate it and sure enough, the following year we had a whole warehouse full of black trees that nobody wanted because they were no longer ‘on trend’.”

Clark strongly recommends avoiding coloured Christmas trees, otherwise you’ll only have to spend more money buying replacements the following year. 

“Don’t go with the bronze or champagne trees that might be in this year. Don’t buy what you think is popular, because it’s only popular for a short amount of time and there will be a whole new trend before you know it.

“It’s better to play it safe,” said Clark.

However, this doesn’t mean you’re just limited to red and gold. You can use these two colours individually or together or use them as ‘base layers’.

“You could add in a third colour if you wanted to,” said Clark.

“So if you use red and gold this year, next year you could add a few greens or silvers to make it look new, but the base layers are still the same, which will save you having to replace everything which in turn saves money.”

He admitted that it’s a good idea to research the current trends online, but don’t just completely copy them.

“Stick to the basics,” said Clark, “and use the trends to add your own spin on it.”

Learning

Decorating your property for other people to enjoy over the Christmas period can be quite daunting at first as it’s different to what you might do in your own home. 

You might want it to look more professional which could mean hiring someone else or learning to do it yourself. 

“If you want to do it yourself but make it look more professional, you can just go on YouTube and find tutorials on how to hang baubles correctly,” said Clark.

Laughing, he added: “I’m not trying to do myself out of business here as a professional Christmas decorator, but there’s plenty of online tutorials out there. It’s just about watching and learning.”

Despite his line of work, Clark encourages business owners to try and do things themselves.

He suggests making your own wreaths, table dressings, garlands and more.

“Look in magazines. There’s a million different magazines that will spark different ideas and show you how to make them,” he said.

“Social media is also your friend on this one.

“I spend my life just scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram and various other design apps just looking for ideas and finding out how to make things.

“It’s a great way to learn and that’s one of the reasons why I love Christmas and got into this line of work because my house was always beautifully decorated and we would do it together as a family when we were kids.”

Clark explained that they would all go foraging in the garden and the woods for berries and holly so they could make their own decorations.

EXAMPLES

JeannaLovesChristmas is my all-time fav Youtube channel for Christmas goodness! Jenna will be decorating trees in the summer at her house and have her husband helping out. She generally bang on trend and I’ve learnt a few tricks from Jenna. 

Thebaublecollection is one of my fav Instagram pages not so much a ‘how to page’ but beautiful Christmas imagery to get you in the mood. They sell their beautiful glass baubles too!

Longacres Garden Centre in Surrey is one of my fav Christmas shops during the holidays. They always have a HUGE collection of décor.

Traditions & Team Building

Clark explained that “Christmas is about traditions” and he now tries to pass these on to his own children.

He said: “I’ve got two small children and we try to keep these traditions going for them so they will grow up with that sense of family.

“This is why I think that if, as a business owner, you’re making your own decorations, it’s important to get your team involved.

“It’s a good team building exercise and if it’s a family run B&B or boutique hotel, why not make it a tradition?”

No matter the size of your business, it’s always great to get your team working together on fun and festive projects.

“You could make it a tradition that you all go out and buy one ornament for the tree so that it’s more sentimental,” suggested Clark. 

Or if you want to save money, take your team foraging for items you can use to make wreaths and garlands to dot around the property. 

Trends for 2021 

If you’re not sure where to start with this year’s decorations, Clark highlights some of the top trends that you’ll be seeing this year.

“Snowy trees are going to be in this year,” he said.

“So that’s rustic, woodland pines that provide a sort of Nordic, Scandinavian feel.

“I also think neon is going to be on trend because the NHS rainbow was very popular last year. We did a lot of rainbow wreaths and rainbow trees and I think that’s going to tick over a sort of neon look again for this year.”

Somewhat helpfully, Christmas trends often closely follow retail trends, so it’s always a good idea to look at retail giants such as Selfridges or even Harrods. 

“If you look at their shop windows, generally that can be a trendsetter for the festive season,” said Clark.

“Recently on Bond Street, Louis Vuitton had a massive explosion of colour on the front of their building and I think this will follow into this year’s Christmas trends.

“Bold and bright will definitely be in.”

He added: “But you can’t go wrong with traditional, classic trends. With the pandemic still affecting everyone, I think people will want that traditional, warm home vibe. You know, things like roasting chestnuts, pine cones and dried oranges.

“I think those will be the top three trends this year; snowy, Scandinavian and rustic trees, the bright, bold and neon colours, and then the natural elements of a traditional winter wonderland.”

Another big trend from last year that could be making a comeback is festive doorways.

“For businesses who have a tighter budget and can’t afford to dress the whole property, then you can just dress the front and create festive doorways,” said Clark.

“These are garlands made from really nice floral arrangements that are really festive and we arrange it around the door so that when people walk up or walk past the hotel or B&B, it just screams Christmas.”

Exterior Decorations

Surprisingly, Clark explained that fitting the exterior with festive decorations is probably even more important than the interior.

“As an example, I always say to restaurant owners that there’s no point spending lots of money on decorating inside the restaurant because once people are sitting at the table, all they care about is the food and the drink. They aren’t spending their meal staring at the decorations,” explained Clark.

“And I think it’s the same for hotels and other hospitality venues. By all means, have a tree in the foyer and make it look festive, but focus your efforts on the outside.”

If you’re unsure of where to start for your exterior decorations, you can’t go wrong with lots of lights.

“If you’ve got lovely grounds, lovely trees, a long driveway, or whatever it is, you can scatter fairy lights everywhere. They’re very cheap but have maximum impact,” suggested Clark.

“We always push for lights because they’re very easy to install and they’re very cost effective. They can last for years and you can plug thousands of LEDs into just one plug.

“The bang for buck is just brilliant!”

You can get boxes and boxes of lights in nearly any colour to suit your chosen themes and decorations, without it costing an arm and a leg.

“You can buy them cheap online and you can add sets to it year after year if you want different colours.

“The other thing that’s great about lights,” said Clark, “is that you can put them anywhere.”

But you’re not just limited to lights when decorating the property’s exterior.

“You could put beautiful festive wreaths on all the doors which provide a warm welcome for all your guests,” said Clark.

“Or you could put a couple of potted trees on either side of the front door. Just put them in some faux Chelsea pots and scatter some lights over them. It’s an easy DIY job and also very cheap.

“It’s definitely a good idea to dress the outside more than the inside.”

Budgets

As a business owner, you’ll already have an idea of how much you want to spend on decorations, but remember to consider the space you’ll be decorating.

“In terms of spending, it’s relative to the property,” explained Clark.

“I had someone phone up the other week asking how much it would be for us to decorate their property and I said it all depends on how big your venue is. 

“She then asked how much the Christmas tree would be, but again, it depends on how big the tree needs to be to suit the space and fit the property.”

Your budget will also depend on whether or not you want to hire a professional to take care of the decorations.

“If you’re hiring a professional, it’s going to be upwards of £1,500 for timing and expenses, unless you’re right on their doorstep and just want a tree because they won’t have to pay for travel,” said Clark.

“The second you get a company in like us, and ask us to create something, that pushes the price up because we’ll need to design, mock up and build whatever it is you asked for.

“But even if you do it yourself and you spend £500 on lights for example, that would be alright. If you spend any more than that for a DIY job, you’re probably going a bit mental and it may start to look borderline tacky.”

When it comes to trees, Clark explained that anywhere between £300 and £600 is what he would expect to spend to end up with a great Christmas tree.

“The average Christmas tree nowadays, if you buy it from the internet, is about £200 or £250 for a nice artificial tree, and then you’ve got to get all the decorations on top of that to go on the tree,” he said.

Even though you could buy a fresh, new tree every year, buying an artificial tree could save you money in the long run because you can use it year after year.

“So if you spend about £500 on a tree, that’s probably about right. People can do it themselves for cheaper, but it’s the same as any other market; you get what you pay for.”

If you want to spend less, you can do a lot of the festive preparations yourself and even make your own decorations.

“If you want to save money and do it yourself, make the most of your local surroundings and use natural elements,” suggested Clark.

“When I was a kid we bought a cheap air dryer off the internet and we’d cut fruit up and dry it to make our own wreaths and garlands which would smell delicious. It would cost next to nothing because it would just be the fruit that my mum would buy from the shop.”

He added: “Go to the woods and forage for twigs and holly. I mean, you can find holly bushes all over the country! You could just cut a few sprigs of holly, obviously not if it’s from private land, but you could get some from the woods or the park to dot around the house.

“There’s so many inexpensive and different ways to dress a property and make it look festive.

“Just have fun with it. Get creative and don’t take it too seriously.”

No matter what your budget is, you can always look for cheaper alternatives and you can’t go wrong with handmade decorations.

TOP TIPS

  1. Use traditional colours like red and gold for the base of your decorations
  2. Make your own decorations to save money
  3. Use social media to learn how to make your own decorations
  4. Research the trends and see how you can use your base elements
  5. Create your own christmas traditions with your team 
  6. Focus on decorating the outside more than the inside
  7. Use lights as a cheap but maximum impact festive decoration
  8. Create festive doorways using wreaths and garlands for a warm, festive welcome
  9. Remember your budget will be relative to the size of your property
  10. Get creative and have fun

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