It’s the most wonderful and expensive time of the year, but one woman has found a way to make Christmas cheer a little bit cheaper.
Claire Douglas is an freelance interior and DIY writer with a passion for a ‘natural’ aesthetic.
Looking to inspire people to build a connection with their homes without breaking the bank, as well as hoping to spread some festive spirit, Douglas decided to get creative.
“You can’t beat nature can you? The colours and the textures..." says Douglas. "For me it is a really festive thing having the greenery in your home. I've always gone for that natural vibe."
She decided to take her love of nature, desire for authentic Yuletide interiors, and mission to inspire low-cost interior design and turn it into a project: foraging for Christmas decorations.
“Buying them from a florist is really expensive so I came up with the idea of foraging to make bigger and bolder displays,” says Douglas.
What is foraging?
Foraging, the practice of searching in nature for food, has seen a resurgence in recent years with hobbyists and enthusiasts taking to the countryside to hunt for mushrooms, wild garlic and herbs.
For Douglas however, the countryside around her home in Tunbridge Wells, UK, offers a bounty of aesthetic ornaments to make her home Christmas-ready.
“We’re quite fortunate there’s loads of greenery. It’s the garden of England. There’s loads of woods and parks and forests,” she says.
“I love walking and being in the countryside. I love natural rustic style Christmas decorations so it all went hand in hand really.”
Buoyed by combining multiple passions, Douglas set about decking the halls of her home with sprigs of holly and branches, adorning her walls, table and mantlepiece with lush displays of greenery.
“They started off small and then they got bigger and bolder so I needed more foliage to do it."
“I’ve got a bit of a naff old artificial tree which was a bit sad, I didn’t want to add to the landfill problem so I thought, how can I make this tree look a bit more attractive? So I faked a real tree by using lots of branches to make it look as if it were for real. You can be as creative as you like really.”
Finding the right foliage is part of the fun.
Douglas regularly goes on regularly planned excursions to local woodland but she’s always got a weather eye out when she’s on the go for any particularly juicy fallen branches or attractive leaves.
“If you are looking you’ll find some really magical things. You just have to look for them. I get teased quite a lot because I’m always on the lookout for things I can incorporate into styling - I'm known to come home with a big branch that’s fallen from a tree."
In addition to filling her home with evergreen joy, foraging can also bring pleasure by providing a fun-filled, family day out according to Douglas, who often takes her husband and two children along for the ride.
What began as a child-friendly lockdown break from homeschooling has since become a free day out during the cost-of-living crisis.
“For me it’s a family thing. It’s a great thing to do with the kids especially times like now when people are feeling the pinch it’s great to have an activity and be out and about in the fresh air getting some exercise."
Ultimately Douglas wants to inspire people to have a go and build their confidence and save some coins along the way.
“To buy in a florist what I have it would have cost hundreds and hundreds of pounds. There’s definitely a huge cost saving element."
“You don’t have to buy stuff, there’s so many things you can make and when you do make something you appreciate it so much more," she adds. "Particularly at times like Christmas. I think it’s a really lovely thing to do."