10 contemporary silver and blue Christmas dining accessories

December 22nd, 2014

Decorating your table for Christmas

If a traditional Christmas colour scheme of red and green isn’t your style, try something a little more elegant and understated this Christmas. We’ve put together our top ten blue and silver themed accessories for a contemporary festive dining table this December.

1. Ledbury linen napkins, Ochre and Ocre

Ledbury napkins from Ochre and Ocre

These soft organic cotton napkins, £20 for four, are a generous size and have a neat mitred corner finish. In muted stripes of grey and blue, they’re ideal for dressing up with sparkly napkin rings for an under-stated festive feel, and they’ll be useful for the rest of the year as well. For a quick decoration, roll the napkins up loosely and tie with a length of blue grosgrain ribbon. Slip a holly twig under the knot, and tie in the ends on a bow. Available from Ochre and Ocre.


2. Winter Woodland table mats and coasters, Sophie Allport

Winterwood mats from Sophie Allport

From British Designer Sophie Allport comes this festive Winter Woodland collection, featuring falling snow around Christmas trees and wildlife such as foxes, hares, owls, deer and squirrels. The mats and coasters are wipe clean melamine, so would make an attractive and practical choice for Christmas Day. Placemats £27 for four, coasters, £12 for four.

3. Spectra wine glass set, Drift Living

Spectra blue glass wine glasses

These pretty coloured wineglasses, £19.50 for two, are mouth-blown, and have jewel-coloured stems to lend your party a festive feel. They’d also be perfect for summer cocktails later in the year. Available from Drift Living.

4. Wine and champagne glasses, Tesco

Wine glasses and flutes from Tesco

Alternatively, if you’re planning a lively Christmas party and are worried about your best glassware, these silver lustre glasses and flutes from Tesco should fit the bill. £7 for two, also available as highball and mixer shapes. For more information or to buy, visit the Tesco website.

5. Noche grey candlestick, Artisanti

Noche grey candlestick from Artisanti

This Noche etched grey glass candlestick is made from dark glass etched with golden leaf designs. This would make a lovely centrepiece for your Christmas table, or standing on the mantelpiece to add a soft glow to the proceedings. £42, available from Artisanti.

6. Silver table runner, Tesco

Silver table runner from Tesco

Add a little festive flair to a dark, plain wooden table with this metallic table runner from Tesco. It’s an easy way to dress a table without it looking fussy, and at £6 it doesn’t matter too much if it’s a little worse for wear by the end of the Christmas period.

7. Syrian silver salad bowl, Jasmine Way

Syrian silver salad bowl

This unusual silver-coloured bowl is handmade and polished in Syria, and has a delicate wavy pattern in beaten aluminium. Pile it with glass baubles and holly to make a table centrepiece, or use it as a serving dish. Was £63 reduced to £31.50. Available from Jasmine Way.

8. Octagonal blue plate, Boutique Provencale

Plain blue octagonal plate

Dress these plain blue plates with white napkins and silver accessories for a festive feel. They’re hand painted and hand crafted in the workshops of Souleo, a small, artisanal pottery maker based in Aix en Provence, and are part of a range including side plates and bowls. Octagonal dinner plate £15.95, available from Boutique Provencale.

9. Silver cake stand, Annabel James

Silver cake stand

This two tiered silver-plated cake stand has a variety of uses on the Christmas dining table. Pile it with bread rolls, after-dinner chocolates or petit fours or use it keep all the condiments together, ready for passing round. Was £69.50, now £39.50, available from Annabel James.

10. Silver rim carafe, Laura Ashley

Silver rimmed carafe

Keep the red wine at drinking temperature with this elegant carafe from Laura Ashley. It would also double nicely as a water jug. Was £30 now £21, available from Laura Ashley.

(Top image credit: Shutterstock)

StreetHub challenge: Styling a hanging bird cage

December 19th, 2014

StreetHub interiors styling challenge competition

How would you use this bird cage? That’s the challenge that StreetHub set us….

The hanging bird cage is from Rigby & Mac The Dulwich Trader, one of the shops who are part of StreetHub. StreetHub specialises in bringing together the “best independent fashion and design boutiques.” It currently focuses on London, with a website and app. All the items sold through StreetHub are in-stock and available instantly for click and collect, or can be delivered to you in London in as little as 90 minutes. Impressive.

StreetHub sent us an aged metal hanging bird cage, as part of their styling challenge competition. The intricately designed cage comes with a hook for hanging, but would need to be hung from something very sturdy. Instead, it’s ideal to be used on a surface. They suggest it’s great for plants, but we decided ours would look nice used like this:

How to use a hanging bird cage as a jewellery storage display case

The design of the bird cage, with its numerous metal structures, provides the ideal space to be able to hang necklaces and other jewellery from. Just pop them around a metal post, do up the clasp and, voila, you’ve got a nice secure spot to be able to hang long necklaces and prevent them from becoming tangled.

There’s a large storage space inside the cage – the lid unclips and lifts up – which you can use for storing more jewellery or displaying a few favourite accessories. As it’s a bird cage, we couldn’t resist adding a bird themed candle!

On the top of the cage we’ve added a string of fairy lights. When the light is dimmed, these twinkle beautifully and create some lovely patterns on the wall behind as the lights flicker against the decorative metal design of the cage.

You can find more styling ideas from StreetHub on their Pinterest boards.

(Disclosure: This post is an entry into the StreetHub styling challenge competition)

Fresh Design Christmas gift guide: for him

December 16th, 2014

Christmas gift ideas for the men in your life

Who says men are difficult to buy for? Whether you’re looking for a stocking filler or something special, you’re sure to find the perfect gift for any hard-to-please husbands, fathers and brothers with our Christmas gift guide.

1. Red retro telephone, Wild & Wolf

This retro phone in phone box red is a perfect desk accessory. The design was first launched in 1967 by the General Post Office and is still a classic today. It plugs into a standard phone socket, and costs £39 from Red Candy.

2. Large wooden robot nutcracker, Suck UK

A present that’s fun and practical, this painted and printed wooden robot has a twist key nut cracker. The robots are finished by hand, are available in a range of sizes and colours and cost from £15 to £25. Available from One Brown Cow.

3. Camembert roaster, Moore Designs

If your other half fancies himself as a bit of a Gordon Ramsey, this hand-forged Camembert roaster will be right up his street. It’s made to roast boxed cheeses on the embers of an open fire or wood burner – once the cheese is melted, just gather friends, wine and some crunchy bread and dip in. £58 including UK delivery, available from Moore Designs.

4. ‘Time for him’ gift set, Carabella Gifts

A beautifully-presented gift box, containing a smart grey canvas wash bag with a black waterproof lining; 250g of roasted Daily Brew coffee which has a nutty yet well rounded taste; q Contemporary China coffee mug with integrated spoon and artisan double baked biscotti biscuits, designed for dunking. The set costs £35 and is available from Carabella Gifts.

6. Beers of the world screen print, Hunkydory Home

Beers of the world screen print

Get to know your stouts from your sorters and explore the world of craft beer with this screen print, which gives an overview of 59 recognised beer styles. Each one has been grouped, categorised and described complete with specific beer characteristics such as bitterness and strength. £45, available from Hunkydory Home.

7. Paper boats pint mug, Laura Lee designs

Pint mug from Laura Lee Designs

Now that’s a proper sized mug! From the Cornwall based studio of ceramic artist Laura Lee, this handpainted pint mug is decorated with paper boats to spark those childhood memories. £22 from Laura Lee designs.

8. Beano vintage stainless steel flask, Tesco

Vintage Beano flask from Tesco











Remember Dennis the Menace and Gnasher? If you do, you’ll love this vintage-style 500ml capacity flask, made from stainless steel with a leather-effect wrap. Features a push-button valve for easy pouring. £10, available from selected Tesco stores and online from the Tesco Direct website.

9. Globe clock, Bowes

Bowes globe clock











This neat little clock would look great on a desk in the study or adorning the mantelpiece, and the design means it won’t take up too much space.  Small and perfectly formed, it’s an ideal addition to the stylish office. £65, available from Sweetpea and Willow.

10. Francis Francis Y3 IperEspresso machine, illy

Illy Francis Francis Y3 espresso machine









For the caffeine fiend, illy’s latest machine, the Y3, is a great entry-level coffee maker for budding baristas, and at just 10 centimetres wide and 26.5 centimetres tall will fit into the smallest kitchen. It uses illy’s iperEspresso pod system combinng high level engineering and top quality espresso with reasonable pricing. Available in black, lime green, orange and white and priced at £99 from Espresso Crazy

(Top image credit: Shutterstock)

Country Baskets Festive Face-Off: DIY Christmas decoration challenge

December 14th, 2014

Country Baskets Festive Face Off Christmas craft challenge 2014

As if December wasn’t busy enough already, we’ve been knee deep in crafting this week (well, covered in glitter and bits of wire, at least). The folks at Country Baskets invited us to take part in their Festive Face-off challenge and we couldn’t resist!

We were sent a box of goodies and the challenge was to transform them into a festive decoration, using at least four of the items (plus any extra items of our own). The items provided were as follows:

Make your own Christmas decorations

Green 2mm wire

A chain of mini bells

A stem of artificial (and very glittery) mistletoe

A box of blue wire balls

Silver poinsettia decorations

A box of silver heart baubles

A roll of silver ribbon

A length of white mini snowballs

Hmm. What to make?!

* At first glance, we wondered about creating a large hanging door wreath, as the wire would make a great base. We did start doing this, using pieces of cut up fabric and ribbon, before realising that we probably didn’t actually have enough fabric to make it effective enough.

* Next we considered creating a garland, to drape over the mantelpiece or hang vertically.

* Or maybe some pretty napkin rings, using a wire wrapping technique, to decorate a Christmas table.

But in the end, after much deliberation and an awful lot of playing, we came up with this:

How to make a contemporary Christmas tree table decoration

We present to you a contemporary style Christmas tree made from wire, standing amidst a mini decorated festive wreath.

How we made it

We created a mini wreath to stand the Christmas tree in. This is made from a piece of wire (that wire was jolly handy!), which we’ve wired together to create a circle.

The wire is decorated with two ribbons – the plain silver ribbon provided and a sparkly silver ribbon that we already had. The ribbons have been wound around several times to create a nicely padded base and also so there are spaces to be able to weave in the ends of the decorations.

How to make a festive table decoration Fresh Design Blog

Make your own Christmas decorations

We chopped up the large piece of mistletoe into several smaller, more manageable pieces and fitted these into the ribbon base – the ends easily slipped under the folds of ribbon to secure them.

How to make a Christmas table decoration

We rather liked the look with just the mistletoe, but to add a bit more depth to it, we’ve included the silver poinsettia flowers too. These were great to use as they’re attached to thin pieces of wire, so could easily be wrapped around the base, helping to add some extra security.

We loved the pom-pom style white snowballs and thought they worked rather well with the frosted berries on the mistletoe, so detached some of those from the string and wrapped them around the base too.

How to make a wire Christmas tree

The contemporary style Christmas tree is shaped and moulded from the wire. It’s very pliable wire and easy to handle, which helped a great deal. There are a couple of rounds on the base and we’ve used a thinner green jewellery wire (4mm, which we already had and luckily matched perfectly) to bind the pieces securely together to form a sturdy base.

The tree is decorated with the mini bells. We’ve taken them off the chain they came on and re-used the jump rings they were on to hang them onto the tree. It takes a bit of fiddling around to get the bells to hang where you want them.

Aside from making the wire tree construction a tad unbalanced when you put them on, the bells also all want to automatically whizz around the tree like a mad helter skelter, so a bit of experimenting and patience is required.

Fresh Design Blog DIY guide to making a contemporary Christmas decoration

All in all, it seemed to work quite well and we were pleased with the end result. It looks nice displayed on a mantlepiece or used as a Christmas table centrepiece. The two pieces (tree and wreath) aren’t attached together, so could also be used separately – the mini wreath is the perfect size to act as a candle wreath.

So we did succeed in using at least four items (the green wire, some of the bells, artificial mistletoe, silver poinsettias, silver ribbon and some of the white snowballs) and still have loads left! We liked the look of the turquoise wire balls, but they didn’t quite fit with this, and are already thinking of what we could do with the left over decorations.

What would you have made?

Check out the Country Baskets blog and Twitter channel to discover more ideas for festive makes.

(Disclosure: Products were supplied by Country Baskets for the purposes of the challenge and this post serves as an entry into their 2014 Festive Face Off competition)

Fresh Design Christmas gift guide: Ideas for her

December 12th, 2014

Solve your Christmas present dilemmas with our pick of the top ten gifts.

1. Wooden family penguins, Bombus

Bombus wooden penguin family

These ‘mother and child’ wooden penguins can be personalised with your choice of names and words. The stylised birds are made from birch plywood and handpainted in your choice of colour, and cost £20 for the mother and one child. Extra baby penguins can be added as well. Available from Bombus.

2. Maul cushion, Amy Sia

Maul cushion by Amy Sia

Handmade in the UK, the Maul cushion features an abstract watercolour print in blue, grey and green to complement any modern interior. It measures 45cm by 45cm, has a natural coloured cotton linen blend back and comes complete with a duck feather pad. £70 from Amy Sia.

3. Bicycles mini notebook set, Cavellini and Co

Set of three mini notebooks by Cavellini and Co

A set of pretty mini notebooks with vintage images of bicycles on the covers, which would make a great stocking filler. The set consists of one ruled, one blank and one graph notebook with 96 pages in each, and costs £9.50 from Hampton Blue.

4. Mini bouquet vase, LSA International

Handmade bouquet vase from LSA International

This hand-made mini bouquet vase is just 9.5cm tall with a wide opening and is perfect for miniature, low displays of flowers. It’s made by LSA International, one of Europe’s leading brands of contemporary handmade glass and porcelain, and costs £9.50 from Annabel James.

5. Silver seed print, Josephine Gomersall Designs

Josephine Gomersall limited edition Silver Seed print

A beautiful giclee print of an original mixed media artwork. The original artwork included silver wire stems, solid silver flattened seed heads and domed recycled tin seeds, along with pencil drawings of stylised plants with heart shaped leaves and red flower centres over-painted with opaque white paint on a coloured ground. The print is a high quality digitally produced image, limited edition and signed by the artist, and costs £49 from Made By Hand Online.

6. English Rose scented candle, Sophie Allport

English Rose scented candle from Sophie Allport

This beautiful candle is made in England using high quality mineral wax to achieve a long, clean and even burn. Made from 100% refined mineral wax blended with a high quality fragrance, this hand made candle will burn for up to 40 hours while gently perfuming your room with the fresh, floral scent of roses. £20, available from Sophie Allport.

7. Lulu cocktail glass set, LSA International

Lulu cocktail glass set, LSA International

An assorted set of of stemmed glasses to suit every type of cocktail, whether you favour a champagne bellini or a cosmopolitan.  Handmade by LSA International, each glass holds 45cl and comes as a set in a branded gift box. Handwash only. £40, available from Berry Red.

8.Hummingbird picture, Outshine Art

Hummingbird picture from Outshine Art

Handmade to order, this hummingbird cut-out picture is available in different colourways and can be personalised with embossed letters. £55, available from Outshine Art.

9. Anna and Grace stationery set, Elle Jane Designs

Anna and Grace stationery set

This pretty set is tied together with a ivory satin ribbon and packaged in a brown kraft gift box, and includes an A5 notebook, A6 notebook, notelet set containing three different designs and greetings card with envelope. £15 for the set, available from Elle Jane Designs.

10. Woodland stag cushion, Blooming Briony

Woodland stag cushion, Blooming Briony

This unusual cushion is inspired by deer roaming the grounds of Hampton Court Palace on a cold, misty morning. It’s printed using state-of-the-art technology in shades of forest green and golden orange, and is and handmade in England. £55, available from Wealden Fairs.

Festive dining: How to style and decorate your Christmas table

December 10th, 2014

When it comes to special occasion dining, it’s good to go the extra mile and decorate in style – and Christmas is definitely a time to do just that.

Furniture Choice challenged us to decorate a dining table ready for Christmas, so here’s what we came up with….

As our Christmas tree decoration theme is red, gold and silver, this is reflected through the dining table decorations too.

We chose a gold tablecloth for the base of the table, with a festive red silk table runner to go down the middle.

We’ve laid the table with Denby white china plates, crackers ready to be pulled and LSA International glasses – perfect for enjoying a refreshing champagne cocktail.

How to style your table for Christmas

Each table setting is accessorised with a white star shaped napkin. We could claim to have painstakingly sat and folded each one of these by hand, but in reality they were bought pre-folded! These are a great idea and it makes things a lot easier to just open the box and set them up and we think it makes the table look extra special.

Fresh Design 10 top tips for decorating a christmas table

In the middle of the table, we’ve used a tall gold Christmas tree candle as the centrepiece, accessorised with a pair of smaller gold bauble candles, one each side.

To finish the table decorations off, we’ve created two little arrangements using silver acorn style baubles. Each of them features five baubles and they’re really quick and easy to arrange.

How to style a Christmas table

We’re pleased with the end result – what do you think?

10 top styling tips for decorating a festive table

How to decorate your table for christmas

1. Pick a colour scheme for your table setting. Coordinate it with the rest of your Christmas décor colours, or go for something different.

2. Use Christmas decorations you already own, such as baubles, candles or tinsel to create your own festive table centrepiece. Try filling a glass bowl or vase with baubles.

3. Less is often more. If you want room to easily add serving dishes, don’t pile too many decorations in the middle of the table – they’ll be a hassle to move.

4. Use candles to create atmosphere, especially if you’re dining in the evening.

5. Create simple festive napkin rings from pretty ribbon. Tie them around crisp white linen napkins and add a Christmas gift tag with a name on to act as a place setting.

6. Choose crackers that match your table colour scheme for an integrated look.

7. Make use of greenery, such as holly or mistletoe, to create table decorations. For example, a simple wreath with a candle in the middle works well, or add pieces of mistletoe to place settings.

8. Use a table runner to provide contrast and add colour to your table setting.

9. Make your own festive floating candle handles from empty kilner jars. Tie ribbon around the outside of the jar, half fill it with water and pop a red tea light candle inside.

10. Light up your table with battery operated fairy lights. Weave them around tinsel or a decorative greenery and lay them down the middle of the table, or fill a large bowl with the lights so they’ll glow safely throughout your meal.

For more ideas, check out our Christmas Table Styling Ideas board on Pinterest.

(Disclosure: Furniture Choice are running a Christmas dining table decoration competition and this post is also our entry).

Liven up breakfast time with these imaginatively designed products

December 7th, 2014

Liven up breakfast time with these ideas from Fresh Design Blog

Not a morning person? Help motivate yourself to get on and eat breakfast, by adding some fun to your table, with these imaginative breakfast sets. Perfect for the old and young alike and a quirky gift to give someone.

1. Turn breakfast into a playground, with the train breakfast set – £14.95 from The Letteroom

2. Let the knights out to do battle, with the Arthur egg cup and spoon – £7.95 from Luckies

3. Serve egg and toast in style, with an optimus prime egg cup and toast cutter – £14 from Little Ella James

4. Saddle up your horses and look after your castles, with an egg and soldier breakfast set –  £24.95 from Takae Mizutani and Sons

Christmas dining and entertaining ideas from Occa-Home

December 5th, 2014

Festive dining table ideas

T’is the season for entertaining! But there’s nothing worse than discovering you don’t have the right glasses, serving dishes or platters to suit the occasion.

If you’re looking for the perfect ways to serve foods and drinks in style, then look no further than Occa-Home. The online interior design store specialises in selling luxury branded homewares and is full to the brim with inspiring products.

LSA International is just one of the many brands stocked by Occa-Home and you’re likely to be able to find suitably stylish glassware and tableware in their collection.

Serve cocktails in style at Christmas

The LSA paddle cocktail set is a beautiful way of serving drinks to your guests. The six elegant cocktail glasses are served from a hand finished natural oak board, shaped like a paddle.

Indented rounds on the board ensure each glass stays in place and makes carrying the board less of a worry. Inspiration for the design of the board came from the Tirol region of Austria, where drinks are traditionally served on similar wooden trays.

Glass tableware serving dishes

For dips and crudites, sweet or savoury nibbles, or even for serving a selection of vegetables at a dinner party, the LSA serve square platter does the trick fantastically.

The chunky glass dish is split into four sections, with a round central area, so you each set of crudites or nibbles is neatly separated. This is a piece you’ll use again and again.

Decorate your table for Christmas

You could even incorporate a decoration into it too, to add a festive touch. The round centre of the square glass serve platter dish is the perfect size to hold a candle, for example, and you’ve still got plenty of room in the four surrounding sections to serve nibbles or chocolates. A tall candle in the centre would be ideal for creating impact in the middle of a table laden with food. Fresh Design blog reviews Occa-Home serveware

Nothing marks the end of a special meal better than tucking into some tasty cheese and biscuits. In terms of serving them in style, the LSA International lotta dip platter ticks all the boxes.

The deep wood board is made from ash and is accompanied by a white porcelain dish to hold your favourite chutney. It’s a well made and sturdy piece that looks like it’s made to last.

All of the items come very well packed and boxed, so they’re ideal for Christmas gifts too. For more tableware and serveware ideas from LSA International and other top brands, check out Occa-Home.

***This post is in association with Occa-Home***

Festive Christmas wreath decorations for your home

December 5th, 2014

8 fabulous Christmas wreaths found by Fresh Design Blog

Do you decorate your door for Christmas? If so, one of the simplest options is to hang up a decorative wreath.

There are lots of ready made wreath options to suit all styles and tastes. What’s more, if you don’t want to hang it on a door all the time, wreaths double up very well as table decorations. Use them in the centre of a dining table for a festive display. Add a chunky candle to the centre if you wish, and it will look like you’ve gone to loads of effort in sprucing up your table!

Here are eight of our favourite wreaths this year:

1. Add a bundle of colour to an interior door, with this colourful and fun felt ball wreath. £54 from The Original Pop Up Shop.

2. Opt for a neutral colour palette and a naturalistic approach, with a wreath made from pieces of birch tree. £45 from John Lewis.

3. Hang this stunning contemporary copper wreath on your door and enjoy the effect of copper glowing in the light. Available from Graham and Green, £49.95

4. Have a go at making your own quirky ruler star wreath, with this kit from the Little Baby Company. It’s only £9.95.

5. Opt for a modern rustic look, with a birch bark Christmas wreath. Buy it for £28 from Paper Posies

6. This red and white gingham tinsel wreath comes with 25 LED battery operated lights. It’s £29 from Ella James

7. For a modern and funky option, choose this wreath featuring embellished felt stars. Just £12 from John Lewis.

8. Go green, with a luxury pre-lit Christmas wreath. Currently on offer for £19.75 at M&S (normally £39.50).

Review: Pines and Needles real Christmas tree delivery service

December 4th, 2014

Fresh Design Blog review of Pines and Needles nordmann fir christmas tree

Are you a fan of real or fake? Christmas trees, that is!

Normally we tend to opt for an artificial tree, not least as it can be a hassle going out to buy a real Christmas tree.

Not only do you have to lug it to your car, then load it in (perhaps finding it doesn’t fit too well….), but you’ve also got the task of unloading it and squeezing it through your front door when you get home. And all that before you even start thinking about putting it up and decorating it.

That’s why the idea of having a fresh Christmas tree delivered right to your home was something that appealed to us.

Pines and Needles are a specialist Christmas tree company who do just that. They have nearly 20 years of experience and provide premium quality trees grown on their own sustainable plantations.

As members of the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association they adhere to strict standards regarding sustainability. For example, for every tree that’s cut down, three more are replanted.

The Pines and Needles trees

Pines and Needles sell a range of popular Christmas trees:

* The Nordmann Fir – ideal for indoor use, as its needles aren’t too pointy and it’s relatively non-drop

* The Fraser Fir – these are grown in their pots to help them have a longer survival rate. You also gain the benefit of being able to keep them growing outside after Christmas.

* The Norway Spruce – a traditional Victorian style Christmas tree, which does drop its needles. This is good for outdoor use, or if you’re only having a tree up indoors for a short time.

The Pines and Needles service

If you live in London then you’ll gain the benefit of having your tree delivered directly from the Pines and Needles team. This involves a Santa hat and kilt clad delivery driver (reflecting the Scottish heritage of the company), who’ll carry your tree into your home and even set it up. If you’re short on time, you can even get help with decorating your tree.

Sadly if you’re not in London, you don’t get the hats and kilts (unless you have a good imagination…) as they use an external courier service, and they are not able to install your tree. You’ll be given a day for delivery, but not a specific time, but you will be kept in the loop with a text message confirmation that your tree is on its way.

The tree set up

How a Pines and Needles Christmas tree delivery arrives

The tree arrived nicely contained in secure netting and wrapped in festive red packaging. It also came with a self-watering stand – an important aspect to keep the tree fresh, watered and reduce the risk of the needles dropping.

The instructions on the stand recommended cutting off 1cm of trunk before putting it in the stand, to help the tree access the water better. It wasn’t what we were expecting to do and proved easier said than done (especially as we ended up having to do it on the kitchen floor), but as the trunk base was a tad wonky, we did persevere and do this.

Once chopped, it was time to get it into the stand. Again, there were instructions provided about how to secure the tree and it sounded easy, but in all honesty it didn’t seem to be for us.

You definitely needed at least two people – one to hold the tree in place and the other to screw and tighten the bolts in the base around the trunk. Two of ours seemed to tighten fine, but one kept coming loose, causing the tree to lurch. During the process of doing this, we did find some needles dropped, but with all the tree man-handling, it’s not entirely surprising.

For a (long) while, we perfected the art of having a leaning Christmas tree, fully suited to Pisa. But eventually we got it secured enough to step away from the tree without fear of it falling over. Hurrah!

Success, the Christmas tree stands unaided!


It was time to get the netting off…..

And, wow, the tree fell into shape effortlessly (way less effort than trying to get an artificial tree branches to fall into a realistic shape). Phew, it was worth the battle with the stand!

Fresh Design Blog real Nordmann fir christmas tree from Pines and Needles

Then it was the fun bit – the decorating!

Fresh Design Blog Christmas tree decorations 2014

This year we chose a colour scheme of red, gold and silver and used a selection of our favourite tree decorations. Christmas is definitely a time for family, so it only seems right to use decorations handed down from family members, as well as some of our favourites collected over the years and one or two new ones (who can resist a new bauble or two each year?!).

The Fresh Design verdict

The tree – We were really impressed with the quality and shape of the tree – it’s the perfect looking Christmas tree. The pine scent is gorgeous.

The stand – The stand sounded great, but in reality we found it tricky to manage and hard to get the tree fully secure. Maybe we just didn’t have the right knack?!

The service – Having a tree delivered directly to your door is great and definitely much easier than having to lug it home yourself, so full marks for this.

We think the delivery service in London, and especially having people to set the tree up for you, sounds excellent and it would certainly help solve the problems we had with getting the tree up straight and secure in the stand.

We also like the fact that when Christmas is over and done with, you can book Pines and Needles to come and collect the tree and recycle it for you – perfect!

Special Pines and Needles offer – and free gifts!

If you love the sound of Pines and Needles and are keen to try the service yourself, then we’ve got a special code you can use to get even better value for money!

Quote the code, “FRSH14” when you place an order and you’ll receive a free mini Christmas tree, holly and mistletoe – perfect for getting your home fully into the festive mode!

And if you solve the knack of how to get the tree to stand upright super quickly in the stand, please tell us your secret!

***Disclosure: Pines and Needles sent us the tree and stand for review, but all views and opinions are our own***

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