Christmas in Australia is different. It just is. So why do we keep pretending that we are in the far north of Scandinavia in the depths of mid-winter? We decorate like we are surrounded by snow, drinking eggnog, eating gravy-laden turkey and making our living rooms seem even more claustrophobic once the entire family and the giant Christmas tree start jostling for space.
Things need to change. Embrace the summer heat and decorate for an Australian Christmas. The rules of the game are:
- Create space. Nobody will thank you in the hot weather if they are navigating a giant tree
- Colour is everything. This is how you can keep traditions alive
- Translate old Christmas ideas into Australian solutions
Do you need a three-dimensional tree that towers over the kids so much that you worry it will fall on them? Try alternatives to the Christmas tree, either mimicking its form such as in the above or by using other materials, plants and flowers to create a central decoration in the home.
Lighting is everything in an Australian Christmas. If you don’t follow the holiday, it can be a great way to give a nod to the traditions and join the festive spirit. You may choose to keep your Christmas celebrations to the late afternoon and into the night, to make sure guests aren’t uncomfortable in the heat and so your lighting can be on display.
Fill your garden and home with candles and other accent lighting, such as fairy lights, to make your home look like a photoshoot for a garden cinema.
Foliage is the number one way to inject colour and communicate the aesthetics and charm of Christmas through your decorations. It would be irresponsible to suggest that everyone heads out and starts scaling Eucalyptus trees, but seek out friends or family who have a Eucalyptus and other native plants in their backyards that you can create wreaths and decorations with.
Some freshly picked Eucalyptus leaves offset with native red berries are the easiest way to have your cake and eat it, too.
Food is another great way to inject colour and life into your Christmas decorations. If you see your food as something to display, then it will shape what you buy and how you choose to use it. Brown gravy doesn’t seem very inspiring or light in the summer heat, but fresh ingredients, served cold or chilled (like cherries on shaved ice) are a great way to give a nod to traditional Christmas colours while keeping things bright on the day.
When it comes to the meal, there can be no easier way to decorate for Christmas than to create a table of irresistible choices, from colourful salads, fresh fruits, cheeses right through to syrup drenched cakes and desserts. Alternatively, you may choose to space out the food into a number of smaller courses so that 1. your dining area isn’t packed with 30 relatives in the heat jostling for a plate and 2. guests aren’t left with that heavy Christmas feeling.
Even rosemary is an inexpensive and easily-sourced way to create multiple wreaths for a dinner setting.
Pine cones are still a great way to remind your guests of older traditions and faraway places, without worrying about heaving a dying Christmas tree onto the front nature strip. Fill a glass vase with them or place one at each person’s dinner plate.
When sourcing native plants for your decorations, be sure to look for those that can sustain their colour and shape out of water for an extended period of time. Use Eucalyptus leaves for Christmas Day, but if you use them weeks in advance, they will dry out and turn brown. This can create a nice effect, however, so consider using both fresh and older Eucalyptus with bright berries, pomegranates, and loose foliage that you can find on a walk down at the local park.