Provide your home with that festive ambience

Christmas is the time of year when friends and family come together. Whether it's your turn to host the Christmas Day lunch, or you're having friends round for drinks, you want your home to ooze festive cheer and style.

The centrepiece in most households is, of course, the Christmas tree. Finding the best place for it can be tricky and without careful thought, it can end up wherever furniture can be most easily rearranged to make space for it.

Instead, try to choose somewhere in your house that you use a lot, so you see it and get to enjoy its festive sparkle as much as possible.

As the Christmas pressure cooker heats up, things will get more hectic. The quest to find goose fat for the perfect roast potatoes may become all consuming and fighting your way through a scrum of shoppers to find a much-desired gift may leave you ready to blow a gasket.

But the stress will melt away when you see your beautiful tree and you remember what the festivities are really about.

With a real tree you have the benefit of the gorgeous pine scent. Just remember to water it and don't put it near a radiator, or it will shed its needles long before Santa's loaded his sleigh up.

If you don't have a real tree, get some scented candles which will make your home smell fabulous, help you relax and add to the festive ambience. Barker and Stonehouse's range of candles includes True Grace's scented bowls in log fire, library and blackcurrant leaves. You can add to the ambience with the twinkle of extra strings of fairy lights. Use them to create festive features in the other rooms of the house, with decorations and displays of Christmas cards.

Make your sitting room extra cosy by adding beautiful cushions and throws in tactile fabrics. Choose rich, festive colours, such as gold, silver, deep reds or greens.

If you're concerned about having enough chairs for guests, but don't have the space for an extra armchair, one solution is a footstool. Barker and Stonehouse has a great range, from the contemporary Hepburn in damson moleskin fabric, to the classic Canterbury footstool.

At this time of year, the occasional table comes into its own. These handy little tables play a vital role, providing somewhere for those bowls of snacks, nibbles and canaps – not to mention drinks.

YP MAG 11/12/10