I can’t quite believe that we are halfway through November already – and fast approaching our third Christmas living in Ebbsfleet Garden City! I’ve heard lots of people saying that they have focused on Christmas slightly earlier than usual this year due to having little else to look forward to…and that’s exactly how I feel! Usually I am strictly a 1st December at the earliest decorator, however this year has been quite stressful and littered with small disappointments, I think we all needed a bit of Christmas cheer! We are also spending so much time inside the house that I’ve been encouraged to make a bit more of an effort decorating the interior than I usually would, especially as we may not have Christmas Markets and public Christmas light displays to visit.

 

I decided to do one Christmassy activity every weekend during this second lockdown, starting with arranging outdoor Christmas decorations! I’ve never done more than a simple wreath on the front door before, however my boys loved driving around the estate looking at everyone else’s decorations last year and so I wanted to add a little extra magic this year. I enlisted the help of local company Flowers by EG to create a Nordic Christmas Grotto under our pergola area in the back garden, as well as a foliage-filled archway made from a 24FT garland and huge 16″ wreath on the front door. I brainstormed with them beforehand as to the colours and style I wanted, settling on a Scandi-inspired woodland green & gold theme.

 

I absolutely love the pops of gold amongst the deep greens. This was continued through to the back garden, where Flowers by EG installed two huge garlands to the front and inside of our wooden pergola, which was built for us at the start of the summer by another fantastic local business, Cozy Gardens. The garlands are weatherproof and attached using cable ties – they were thoroughly tested during last week’s storm and managed to remain intact! We had the pergola built so that we would be able to use the garden year-round, no matter the weather, and so have moved our gas firepit underneath so we can spend cosy nights toasting marshmallows and drinking mulled wine (hot chocolate for the kids!).

 

 

I absolutely love how the decorations have turned out, and am going to add some of my own fairy lights to the front for some extra sparkle when its dark. The best part is that Flowers by EG come and dismantle and collect everything for you in January, perfect if you don’t have a garage or much storage space.

 

Last week I decided to kill two birds with one stone and get our artificial Christmas tree out of the garage and re-introduce Elf on the Shelf to my kids! Growing up I always had a real Christmas Tree, however our house in Ebbsfleet has carpet in the lounge, which is a bit of a vaccuming nightmare with a cat who likes to shake tree branches with his paw! Last year I decided to order an artificial Noble Fir tree from Balsam Hill, which still looks incredibly realistic but leaves zero mess. The tree is pre-lit and 7ft tall, sitting perfectly in our bay window. Having a 7ft tree with our newbuild ceiling height means you can’t quite fit a star over the top, however I tied our star to the front of the top branch using gardening wire. I like quite a natural tree look, and plan on wrapping the presents with co-ordinating recyclable gold and white Kraft paper and jute ribbon.

 

I don’t get new decorations or have a different colour scheme every year, for me part of the joy of decorating the Christmas Tree is the nostalgia of getting out all the beautiful pieces you’ve been given or bought over the years. I just add a few new decorations every year, and let the kids decorate their own real tree in the kitchen with the ‘wonderful’ crafts they bring home from school! This year I have really wanted to support small businesses with my Christmas shopping, and found a couple of lovely companies on Instagram to get decorations from, including these dried flower baubles from House of Folia , some glass teardrops from Samrose Interiors, and personalised gingerbread man for my boys from Hanging By Just A Thread.

 

 

I was so inspired by the gorgeous clay decorations I saw on Etsy that I have decided to try and craft some similar myself, to use as tags for my Christmas Wrapping this year! All you need is oven-bake polymer clay, some string or ribbon, and you can use various household objects to imprint textures and letters on. I’ll let you all know how I get on with a video tutorial in a couple weeks on my channel @lydias_layton_life!

 

My kids absolutely loved helping to decorate the tree, and as they were getting so excited about the festive season, I decided to bring our Elf on the Shelf back – but this year do something a little bit different for his arrival! Yes, I know its early, however my two have been extra naughty this year, so they needed a couple extra weeks with Elf keeping an eye on them (ha!). Now, I need to put in the disclaimer that I am actually not a huuuuge Elf on the Shelf fanatic – I am not creative enough to move him around every day and haven’t actually told my children that’s what is supposed to happen. They think that he arrives and then watches them from one spot in the house, and that they aren’t allowed to move him at all until Christmas Eve. I highly recommend this Lazy Mum adaptation!

One of my neighbours and friends who lives in Ebbsfleet Green owns Kent Balloon House and sells a variety of beautiful personalised balloons, including the most amazing Hot Air Balloon Christmas Elf. You can order a personalised hot air balloon basket for £18, or a personalised balloon with a magical sparkly tail for £15 and both options come with artificial snow for the Elf to make a lovely mess! The Elf isn’t included, but you can request one at an extra cost, we already had ours from the year before. My boys were SO excited to find ours waiting for them in the lounge in the morning, with Teddy running downstairs screaming ‘Elf on the Shelf is here, Elf on the Shelf is here, I can’t believe it!!’.

 

 

I hope I’ve given you some ideas of how you can bring some festive joy to your own homes this year! I personally can’t wait for people to start putting lights up outside so I can take the kids (ok, its for me, not them!) walking round to see what our neighbours have done. Remember that lockdown has meant it’s a difficult time for many small businesses that would have relied on a busy pre-Christmas season, so it’s always worth spending a bit of extra time looking around online to find independent shops to buy from!

For more images and tips on interior styling, please follow me on Instagram on my channel,  @lydias_layton_life .