Christmas: How to decorate your home like designer Susie Watson

Susie loves greenery at Christmas, with a mix of real tree and silk garlands 

Susie loves greenery at Christmas, with a mix of real tree and silk garlands - Credit: Adam Carter Photo

Despite the odds, designer Susie Watson has Christmas wrapped up with her iconic festive decor

It feels like Christmas planning will never be the same again. Rather than the expected traditions and rituals that so many families once partook in. With the pandemic still rumbling along under the surface, still none of us are sure what Christmas is actually going look like this year. Planning for the unplannable is what we’re all up against in the countdown to the big day.

This is one of the busiest times of year for designer Susie Watson

This is one of the busiest times of year for designer Susie Watson - Credit: Adam Carter Photo

One thing that can be certain however, is that at Christmas time, we all like to decorate our homes in some way big or small. From a simple tree to full-on garlands festooned on every corner, maximalists and minimalists alike will find their own style for the season.  

But with all this disruption, will there be enough decorations for us all to get our hands on? Queen of country chic interiors, Susie Watson, is more than a little concerned as she shares, ‘This year most of Christmas is sitting on the water somewhere and not currently in my warehouse. We would normally have things by now but lockdown in India in the summer delayed production and now, of course, we have the shipping delays so, it is all a bit touch and go at the moment.’ 

Susie's red and white candles help to set the Christmas table scene

Susie's red and white candles help to set the Christmas table scene - Credit: Adam Carter Photo

When stock finally does reach our shores however, Susie’s Alresford boutique will be brimming with festive delights. Known for her calm and casual country style, for Susie at Christmas it’s all about creating the right atmosphere, and candles are always the first thing to go in to shoppers' baskets.  

‘Our hand-painted candles are probably the biggest thing at Christmas. We sell a red stripe one and they are phenomenally popular. We nearly always run out every year. It's such a specialised product, it really is very, very festive. As we're suddenly moving into the dark, it's not very expensive and you can very easily make your house look lovely with just candlelight.’ 

Susie loves red and white at Christmas 

Susie loves red and white at Christmas - Credit: Adam Carter Photo

And when you’ve got candlelight all aglow, the next thing to add is glassware. Reflecting the flames and bouncing flickers of light around the rooms, cut glass is beautiful at Christmas. From hurricane vases to little votives, adding glass to your Christmas setting is a must according to Susie: ‘Anything glass sells really well at Christmas. Champagne glasses ran out last year as well as red wine glasses. Little vases to put a nightlight in are very popular too.’  

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Whether you’re in to a bit of festive foraging or prefer for your foliage displays to look perfect for the whole month, either way Susie’s Christmas displays always include some seasonal stems. She explains: ‘Fake flowers are very popular; you can do an awful lot with not a lot actually. All you need is a bit of greenery or some holly berries. You can also look around locally and bring some of that seasonal foliage into your home without really costing anything, and then you can decorate it with little trinkets and candlelight.’  

Glass bottles are a lovely way to highlight interesting stems 

Glass bottles are a lovely way to highlight interesting stems - Credit: Adam Carter Photo

Of course, the one thing most of us won’t be without at Christmas is the tree. For Susie a real tree is a must, and the tradition of getting down the decorations and looking through the collection is something she always looks forward to. She advises: ‘I think this whole idea of you’ve got to have a blue tree this year is simply horrendous. I think it should be a mishmash of things really, you want all sorts of different decorations on your tree and I think that they definitely ought to come out every year and you just add to them. Yes, something might get eaten by the dog and you might need to replace but on the whole I think that is the fun, seeing that one little thing you picked up in a funny shop somewhere; also it gives you justification for buying your new thing, because actually you're not going to use it for one year, you're probably going to use it for 40 years.’ 

With the tree up, foliage arranged and candles on all that’s left is to set the Christmas table and for Susie, a festive tablecloth is the first thing to go down.  

Get festive with a Christmas tablecloth

Get festive with a Christmas tablecloth - Credit: Adam Carter Photo

‘I think a tablecloth is quite fun at Christmas, we have a Christmas tablecloth which is quite nice as it is red and white striped and it's got little robins on it. I definitely think you want napkins or a bit of textile, preferably in red and white for me. Then candles, candles, candles are the most important things and I like little flower bottles with just little bits of berry and ivy or little bits of greenery. You can put them all around the table and then you end up with lots of glass, lots of candles and to be honest with you I don’t think you need anything else much.’ 

‘There are some really nice shops in some market towns and I think since COVID oddly they’ve become much more popular. You can park without paying a fortune and people can’t be bothered to go in to bigger towns now. Traffic jams, parking, all these things annoy people now and everyone is much more intolerant of any sort of issue. Shopping in a little market town is quite un-stressful and Alresford is very popular at the moment, it’s thriving.’ 

The perfect Christmas table according to Susie, candles, glassware and textiles

The perfect Christmas table according to Susie, candles, glassware and textiles - Credit: Adam Carter Photo