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Yule feel better if you plan ahead; Homefront :.

Byline: Jenny Longhurst

What's the secret to a perfect Christmas? Jenny Longhurst discovered that early planning will help ease the Yuletide stress

TAKE the stress out of Christmas and add a bit of sparkle with an early start.

Interior designer Margaret Emanuel has a list for everything and believes that planning is the name of the game.

"We were 11 children so we had to be organised, " said Margaret, sister of Royal dress designer David Emanuel.

"It pays to start early otherwise, as Christmas gets nearer, you just feel overwhelmed."

Margaret, from Ogmore Vale, designer on the HTV series Soft Sell, takes an 'out with the old, in with the new' approach to make the festive season hassle-free.

Now is the time to decide if there needs to be any changes made in the dining room or the lounge to accommodate extra guests and then decide on a colour scheme for decorations.

"I love to build everything round the tree, " said Margaret, "using red, green and silver."

She suggests making the most of fresh greenery such as holly, mistletoe, laurel leaves and fresh flowers or spraying twigs and bamboo in silver and gold and arranging them in a glass vase.

Those who love icy white accessories and decorations could create an extra stylish touch with the addition of one other colour like royal blue or lilac.

But it's back to basics before the pretty bits take over.

There's no getting away from it, Margaret insists, this is the time for a pre-Christmas 'spring clean.'

"Clean up and clear clutter including old toys and clothes, " she said.

Polish mirrors, wash blinds and nets, clear out kitchen cupboards and throw away out-of-date herbs and spices.

Defrost fridge and freezer and organise for the Christmas food.

Wipe away unsightly fingermarks, wash kitchen walls and clean behind furniture.

Once the hard work is over, it's time to create the atmosphere and set the mood.

Margaret has the following suggestions for giving a home the excitement of Christmas without the headache.

1. Remove ornaments, books and so on, to make room for decorations.

2. Introduce plump, sumptuous cushions to add drama to the room and add candles for a festive feel.

3. If you have an open fire, throw on pine cones for a woodland smell.

4. Stud some oranges with cloves to provide a Christmas-time fragrance.

5. Spray nut shells in silver and gold and dot around the dining table or the fruit bowl.

6. Ask children to make place-cards with glitter, glue, crayons and paints.

7. Make a centrepiece for the table, for example a glass bowl with floating candles.

8. Arrange a group of candles on the fire hearth but remember not to leave burning candles unattended.

9. Invest in a beautiful tablecloth or buy a few metres of fabric in rich red, green, silver or gold to tone in with the decorations in the room.

10. Consider using table lamps or candles instead of harsh, overhead lighting.

11.Start to write Christmas cards now.

12. Wrap and label presents as you buy them, keeping one or two to pack on Christmas Eve to keep you in the Christmas spirit.

For individual professional home design advice, Margaret Emanuel Interiors is at 01656 842349.

CAPTION(S):

TABLE MANNERS By following 10 top tips you could be sitting down and having a relaxing glass of wine this Christmas. PICTURE: Scott Ramsey
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 17, 2001
Words:567
Previous Article:Trendsetters' paradise; Fashion :.
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