Friday, 27 December 2013

The Colour Collaborative: December - Celebration

For me, December is a month packed full of celebrations. Of course there is Christmas, one of the biggest events in our calendar; whatever your religious views, it's a celebration of light, warmth, family, food and joy as much as anything else. And then there are the birthdays. Bella was born on the 18th of the month. My sister, Anna, celebrated hers on Monday, the 23rd. And today my other sister, Katy, shares her birthday with her son, my nephew, Jeremy. It's busy, happy and more than a little chaotic.

When I think back over the last few years of December celebrations, I can't think of a single colour that sums it all up, that represents celebration for me. If anything, I'd say it's a bit like a rainbow glitterball, or a box of Quality Street chocolates. Every colour is used in abundance with a fair amount of glitter and sparkle thrown in for good measure. Nothing is really very planned or coordinated, but everything is full of meaning and memory. 

Traditional colours for this month are usually green, red and white, all colours which appear in nature at this time of year. Holly and mistletoe, leaves and berries, wreathes and branches - even in the bleakest, darkest midwinter month the hues and tones we find in the natural world outside will bring interest and colour into our homes. I am constantly drawn to these colours when I think of Christmas - they say Christmas trees, candy canes, Father Christmas and candlelight to me.

I use red in the stockings I made Bella and Angus, in the poinsettias that line my kitchen windowsill every December, in the fake berry wreath we hang on the front door. I don't decorate with red much in our home - I sometimes find it a dominating, jarring colour - but in winter it's warmth is welcome.

There is the green of our tree, of course, and the greenery I bring indoors and string about the house each December. Sometimes bought, sometimes foraged, it always reminds me that spring is ahead.

Our tree decorations are an "eclectic" mix. I look with envy and awe at my friends' perfect, colour coordinated, elegant trees. I was chatting about Christmas trees with some friends recently and said how much I'd like to just decorate a tree with white lights and nothing else one year. No, they said. It would look too municipal, too much like the big tree the council puts up in the town square each year. I won't ever do it though, as I'd be too sad not to use the decorations that belonged to my Grandma, like that mustard yellow bauble from the seventies above. And the green stocking she knitted, or that awful bright pink bauble above that Bella brought home from school two years ago. It's hideous and I treasure it. Nothing on our tree matches but that's fine. It's a family home not an interior design magazine.

And then we have the primary brights of primary school Christmas cards and toilet roll nativity sets, the bright, glittery blue of this saltdough "A" Angus brought home from school last week.

And the rest is a muddle of colour; some orange in the piles of clementines and satsumas we buy and eat at this time of year, white in the light from the candles dotted around the house and in the snowy icing sugar on top of the mince pies, pink and purple in the winter sunsets and boxes of sweets and chocolates. And all colours are there in the piles of presents under the tree, with their shiny ribbons and glittery bows, and in the rainbows of smarties I always seem to use to decorate birthday cakes.

What colours sum up December celebrations for you? Traditional and Nordic with red, white and green? Minimal and elegant with white, gold and silver? Or modern and bright with hot pinks, purples, yellows and oranges? Or are you a bit like me, all of it thrown in for good measure?

What is The Colour Collaborative? All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.


I hope you are all enjoying your Christmas celebrations. I'm looking forward to sharing some of our Christmas with you in a few days.


  1. Wow Gillian - a busy, busy family time for you over the Christmas holidays.

    Have a fabulous one and 'Merry Christmas'

    Nina x

  2. Lovely post. I do like red and white, my tree is red and gold, but I have to say Angus' A is my favourite. One to treasure. Hope you have a great new year, how did all your gorgeous presents go down! Xxx

  3. For me, it falls into two categories :: solsitice first, which is all about white candlelight, evergreen foliage and bright red berries, so very traditional colours. And then Christmas which is most definitely Quality Street colours. These are the nostalgic colours of my childhood Christmases and I love them so much.
    I occasionally hanker after a red and white scandanavian colour scheme, and also the darling pastel vintage colours that you see a lot in Blogland, but I know my heart wouldn't be captivated by them really.
    I have LOVED your colour collaborative posts of this year, they've been a true pleasure to read.

  4. Dear Gillian
    It sounds as though you have had a wonderful time. I'm definitely of the everything thrown in together school of Christmas decorating - colour, colour and more colour! Like you, I sometimes think it would be nice to have a colour co-ordinated look, but it just wouldn't be me and the tree decorations all have a memory attached.
    Enjoy the rest of the holidays and Happy New Year!
    Best wishes

  5. Hello Gillian....I try to keep to a red, green and gold theme but your Christmas tree is very much like ours. Dressing the tree always evokes lovely memories, we have decorations over 60 years old that belonged to my mother, some from when I was a child, the school makes from my sons (now 27 and 25) and for the past 10 years while on holiday we always buy a decoration as a memory of our holiday - this year a blue (!) bauble from Canada depicting the Northern Lights.
    A lovely post as usual, wishing you and yours a healthy and happy 2014.

  6. hello gillian,
    my tree is red,green and a little bit gold. i like your christmas tree. bella and i we have on the same day birthday. yes december is a busy time. thank you for all your lovely post over the year!!
    have a nice time,

  7. I'm like you, I love all colors at this time of year. We have colored lights on the tree, I actually prefer them over white ones. I just love the bright, cheerful look of it. And the ornaments are a crazy mixture of old, new, handmade - some kind of poorly. But I love them all. I hope you've have a wonderful Christmas and I wish you all health and happiness in 2014.

  8. We have mostly red, green and gold in our house, with small amounts of white. We have gone for a minimalist look for our decorations as we just didn't have space for a tree. We have gone for lots of candles instead :)

  9. Hi Gillian!
    We got a smaller tree this year and have just used mostly red and white baubles. They're all a mix of new and handmade. I'm looking forward to the decorations the girls will be making and bringing home once they start school.
    Enjoy the rest of the holidays. It's always a pleasure reading your posts.
    Marion x

  10. While I major in red, green and white and gold at Christmastime, I also have added cobalt blue into the
    mix :) I especially treasure the handmade decorations that have been given to me or that I made and I have a cluttery eclectic "style" of arranging things. :) Thanks for this thoughtful post, Gillian. I am enjoying viewing it and pondering your questions. Wishing you continuing happy celebrations. xx

  11. Christmas is a lot of red for me, red and silver in one room red and gold in another. Scents are important too, like the smell of a real pine tree . I love your mix of decorations and the stories connected to each one.

  12. lovely pictures and lovely words. I hope you have had a lovely time.

  13. Such colourful celebrations! The stockings/wreath/poinsettia collage would make a wonderful Christmas card for next year :)

  14. Great post Gillian and love the riot of colours. Our tree is usually very eclectic with decorations gathered over many years from far and wide. Next year I'll be able to show, when all is "unpacked".
    Birthdays are very prolific at this time for both of us, aren't they. Take care.

  15. Hi Gillian
    So many lovely colours and so many special and treasured things. I agree with you about red sometims being a little much inside but I have found that my favourite Christmas decorations at home this year has been my little Christmas Land in my kitchen, warm reds and neutral creams and grey. It makes me happy every time I look at it !
    I absolutely love the toilet roll nativity figures - totally inspired and brilliant.
    Really enjoyed your lovely colourful post,
    Kate x

  16. What a lovely post. My tree is exactly like yours. All sorts of mismatched treasures hanging happily together. Most of the baubles are red or gold, but lots of other things have snuck their way in as well.

  17. I'm a lot like you. All colours are welcome xx

  18. December looks like a busy month for you. We change colors every year (!!) but this year I only reused decorations I already had... The main try was white silver and some brown tones. My small tree in my kitchen is always red and white. For the other decorations it all depends. This year I have been inspired a lot by blogs like yours and I have tried to invite Nature as much as I could in our house.

  19. for me it's my multi-coloured vintage fairy lights! it's just not christmas till they are switched on. They're so lovely. Happy new year Gillian! Heather x

  20. I like traditional colours, reds, golds and greens. But I am so inspired by the simple Nordic white and red style too.
    Love your photos!
    BH x

  21. My christmas is definitely quality street hued. From where I sit I count at least 5 shades of red, 3 of orange not to mention the green, turquoise, purple, gold, bronze, peach, silver on my tree. Rich jewel brights - the colours of the wise men and their opulent robes maybe? I look longingly at pinboards full of white, twigs, nature's greens and candlelight and wish I had the restraint to pull off this look but its colour and sparkle that rock my world really.

    Merry christmas xx

  22. We have mostly red and green in our house, and a little pink for Christmas. Our tree is very eclectic, and that's the way I like it! And lots of white candles, and fairy lights, too. I seriously cannot get enough of the fairy lights! So happy you had lots of family time for Christmas this year. Oh, and I love your red berry wreath!

  23. "It's a family home not an interior design magazine." I think we should all frame this statement as goodness knows some people FORGET. We decorate in red and gold and green mainly, with every colour in between as well. The only green is in the tree though. It looks ok, but recently i've had a hankering for a classic white, birch tree brown and gold....

  24. Me its all about the quality street colours, that's Christmas for me. What a beautiful berry wreath

  25. Your toilet roll nativity set is genius!!!!!! I love it so much, happy new year, Sam x

  26. Some trees that are all coordinated look beautiful, but the most beautful ones are those that are full of memories I think, and your tree and decorations are full of memories of Christmasses and events that have passed and what a great way to remember them at this time of year. So, I think that your tree and ornaments - and giant A for Angus and bright pink ball from Bella - are beautiful, as are all of their colours! xx

  27. I'm most definately like you, all thrown in for good measure! ;)

    S x


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