Want to give your home some extra sparkle this Christmas? Living’s Inside Edge columnist Kate Cox has lots of ideas.

Trees and decorations

Christmas starts with a tree. You can give a cut pine on the side of the road a new lease on life, or take your pick from the mess-free models in the stores. There are plenty of traditional options among fake trees for sale, but look out for creative styles.

And if want a change from a three-dimensional tree, or are short on space, The Vinyl Room has a gorgeous fabric wall decal. You could use this in any room - it would look great by your front door to welcome guests with a bit of Christmas wow. When the season ends, just peel it off and store safely ready to use again next year.

If you just want to make a nod to Christmas stylised trees are perfect as festive displays, such as the white stick cone from Citta Design or Ezibuy's light-up silver and red cones. The red wooden advent calendar tree from Citta Design doubles as a cute place to store lollies, small presents or a Christmas message that echoes the shape of a tree.


String lights through your tree's branches before hanging your decorations, placing baubles to hide the lights' wires, so adding to the sense of magic.

Decorating a tree is a serious business for some.

There are family heirlooms to hang, strict colour ways to be adhered to, only so many objects allowed, or room must be found for a collection of decorations from the past 50 years. Just add what's important to you.

Children will have their own ideas and want to hang their latest school creations, which might not be the prettiest items, but try to resist the urge to keep the tree "tidy". My kids will only bring hand-made decorations home for a few years, and I think their efforts deserve to be praised and adored.

And of course designers and retailers haven't let us down and shops are overflowing with new ranges of tempting items. Traditional Christmas shapes are still abundant, but some now have wicker and timber finishes. Farmers has some with a Kiwi flavour.

Animal shapes and silhouettes are popular and include butterflies, birds and even moose which can look like they're climbing the tree.

And if you despair at the sight of your tree after every family member has had a go, try pulling it together with your choice of ribbon. Tie in knots or bows to the end of the branches for a finished look.

Around the house


Once your Christmas tree is up and decorated, spread the sparkle around your house. Your front door is a good place to start, to add a Christmas welcome for friends and family.

There are traditional wreaths and lights available, or make your own wooden sign covered with blackboard paint reminding neighbours how many sleeps there are to go until the big day.

Once inside add some serious wow factor with new fabric decals from The Vinyl Room. The reindeer design shown adds a bold Christmas statement in a contemporary way, without costing you space.

Bunting is regaining popularity for all occasions and is available in traditional Christmas colours. It makes a creative alternative to tinsel.

Take the chore out of gift wrapping by enlisting your children to help. Plain paper can become their own design with paint, stickers, or drawings.

Kikki.K have created a kit with everything you need to create your own wrapping, including tags, stamps and string.

Don't forget a Christmas stocking for each member of the household (I've even seen some for dogs).

Farmers has a cute range with whimsical images of Father Christmas and reindeer. Kikki.K has some beautifully embroidered stockings in its trademark classic style.

Add glow with candles, placed in safe spots out of reach of little hands. Arrange tea lights together on a tray. Try hanging lanterns or adding candles to mantles, like the beautiful bird candles opposite, both from Citta Design.

Take time today to get your home ready for Christmas, then enjoy the atmosphere for the rest of the month.

Step by step: Delight in the decorating
* Create family traditions by decorating together. Spend that school-free week before Christmas having fun recycling cardboard and paper to create masterpieces.

* Look online for inspiration or see what you come up with together.

* Save this year's cards for next year. Teach kids basic sewing skills and use Christmas fabrics, ribbons, bells or whatever you have lying around or find cheaply. The young Coxes in my home proudly hung their handmade designs at the front of our tree. Patience is key. Their decision-making and designing can take up a chunk of the time. Once mine had decided on a shape, they cut it out from the fabric, turned it inside out and did a basic running stitch around the shape, leaving enough space (3-5cm) to fill with stuffing. They then stitched the gap and attached ribbon.

* Keep decorations safe for next year by placing in egg cartons. Wrap lights around lunch paper rolls, it makes next year's task of putting them up again easier.

* Save paper and money by wrapping up presents in old magazines or newspapers featuring Christmas spreads.

* Hold on to your favourite magazine's Christmas edition. Next year you'll be able to plan to put all those gorgeous ideas you read about this year into action.