styling a dicken's christmas

Have you ever read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens? I admit I hadn't until I was asked by The Globe Style Advisor to style a shoot on that very theme. It's actually quite a quick read and very enjoyable; rich with scenes of Victorian life. As I was going through the text I kept a running list of words that I hoped would inspire me as I gathered ideas and props for the shoot - holly, fog, keys, candles, brown paper parcels, bells, etc. Early on I was shown the direction they were hoping to take the photography - something soft and moody with almost a vintage family snapshot feel. I thought it was absolutely perfect and so different from the majority of Christmas decor shoots you see. It reminds me of being the first one up in the house on Christmas morning - still, quiet and heaving with anticipation of the day's activities.

One of the things we researched were smaller trees decorated with objectss like nut garlands and bells. I loved the idea of doing a miniature tree and keeping the root ball intact so that it could be replanted later. This is sometimes referred to as a Living Christmas Tree and I think we might give it a try this year.

In Chapter Two of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge watches on as a father and porter laden with parcels wrapped in brown paper are met with "shouts of wonder and delight." Who doesn't love the anticipation of opening a wrapped parcel!

One of the ways you can really bring attention to your beautiful and fragile ornaments is to display them as a centre piece on your festive table. An old wooden crate lined with natural raffia or shredded paper is the perfect nesting ground for these delicate pieces. Votive candles (in protective glass) could fill some of the other compartments casting a beautiful light.

Mrs. Cratchit famously delivers the plum pudding all aflame to the table in A Christmas Carol. "Mrs Cratchit left the room alone -- too nervous to bear witnesses -- to take the pudding up and bring it in... Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper which smells like a washing-day."  I was determined to have some sort of reference to a plum pudding in this shoot even if it meant making a quick version of one myself (a good plum pudding should be made months in advance). I was brought up eating plum pudding at every Christmas and remember well Stir Up Sunday, igniting the pudding and singing a rousing chorus of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It's the essence of Christmas to me.

I imagined that Victorian homes would have been decorated with primarily natural elements. I came across a garland made of bay leaves and pomegranates and decided to give it a try. After sourcing a large quantity of fresh bay leaves I got to work putting this piece together. I'll have a DIY on this garland in the next couple of weeks.

Speaking of DIY's, I'll have a quick one on how to make this nut garland on Wednesday. It's super easy and would look great on your Christmas Tree, strung across your mantel or over a doorway.

By the way, if you'd like to see more from this shoot and the rest of the Globe Style Advisor you can download the issue for free on your ipad.


Images Credits:
Mark Peckmezian
Globe Style Advisor - Winter Issue