Capture the elegance and joy of English yesteryear by decorating your home this holiday just as they did a century ago and inviting treasured friends to share glad tidings.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Modest cooking skills
- Dried cranberries
- Gingerbread cookies
- Needle and string
- Red velvet ribbon (wide)
- Tape or tacks
- Evergreen boughs and garlands
- Christmas tree
- Old-fashioned ornaments
- Card stock and envelopes
- Red and green candles
- Peppermint sticks
- Apples and oranges
- Potpourri and potpourri burner
- Christmas stockings
Research Victorian Christmas traditions, customs and recipes on the Internet and decide what kind of holiday party you want to have. It could be something as simple as finger foods and mulled wine or something as extravagant as a sit-down formal dinner. You may also want to consider a Victorian high tea held in the late afternoon and featuring dainty sandwiches, scones, cookies and candies. Catalogues such as the Victorian Trading Company will provide you with plenty of inspiration.
Purchase old-fashioned invitations and send them out at least 2 to 3 weeks before the date of your party. If you have a talent for crafts, there are a number of Victorian-themed websites that allow you to download vintage designs, print them out and affix them to your own card stock. To create even more atmosphere for the party, suggest that your guests show up in period costumes.
Place evergreen boughs on top of fireplace mantles, bookshelves, credenzas and sideboards. Save a few of the smaller branches for a centrepiece on your dining room table and place a tall red or green candle in the middle. Tack sprigs of mistletoe above the doorways.
Nestle old-fashioned ornaments, peppermint sticks or apples and oranges amongst the branches.
Tape or tack evergreen garlands to staircase railings in large loops. Cover up the tacks and tape with some of the red bows that you make in Step 10.
Pop a big batch of popcorn. After it cools, use a large needle and string to thread together 2 to 3-foot lengths for hanging on the tree. While the popcorn is popping, you can also start threading shorter lengths of cranberries.
Bake gingerbread cookies. As they start to cool, poke a small hole through the head of each one. Once they harden, this will make it easy to thread a short loop of string through each one individually and hang them as ornaments.
Put up the tree where it will be a focal point of the room but will not be in the middle of traffic patterns that could put it at risk of tipping over. If necessary, anchor it with a few strings to the ceiling.
Decorate the tree with the festive popcorn and cranberry chains you've made. Tie gingerbread cookies onto the branches. Hang old-fashioned ornaments and peppermint candy canes.
Cut the red velvet ribbon into long pieces and fashion elegant bows. Tack or tape these to doors and cupboards.
Hang a wreath on the front door.
Start simmering the potpourri just before your guests arrive for the party. Place red and green candles around the room.
Put on a tape of Victorian Christmas carols.
Tips and warnings
- If you have very small toys or dollhouse furniture or want to take the time wrapping matchbox-size presents, these will also look cute nestled amongst the evergreen boughts.
- If you forget to buy the potpourri, you can make a fragrant substitute by simmering some sliced apples and cinnamon on the stove.
- If you have a piano and know how to play it, gather your guests around for some holiday singing..
- If you don't have a fireplace, hang your Christmas stockings down the banister.
- If you'd rather not hang popcorn and cranberry strands on the tree, recruit your children to make red and green paper chains out of construction paper.
- Never leave lighted candles unattended.
- Curious pets will be attracted to the smell of food in the tree. You may need to ban them from the living room during the holidays.
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