Christmas with Chyka - her expert tips for a festive house

Chyka Keebaugh with items from her new Harris Scarfe collection. Photos: Supplied

Chyka Keebaugh with items from her new Harris Scarfe collection. Photos: Supplied

As an entertainer extraordinaire, Chyka Keebaugh is in her absolute element during the festive season. Co-owner of catering and events company The Big Group and deft at decorating everything from the front door to the Christmas table, she recently collaborated with Harris Scarfe for its new range, Chyka Home. Now her own house is prepped, Chyka took time to share her insights.

What do you most love about decorating your home at Christmas?

I absolutely love all things Christmas and all things decorating, so the two together are my favourite thing to do. I don't tend to change where I decorate, as I love the places I do and think they are balanced throughout my house.

For me it's about decorating indoors and outdoors. I love the idea of walking around your home and adding those extra touches to change the way your home looks compared to the other 11 months of the year.

I also love tradition. Putting on Christmas music and having fun decorating - it should never be a chore, but a joy.

When is an acceptable time to start decking the halls?

I think after the year we have had the earlier the better, but I always put up the weekend before December 1. I always box everything away by the first week of January.

What are some tricks for making your home look its best at Christmas?

Where do I begin! The front entrance table need some Christmas touches, be it a fragrant candle, a bunch of Christmas lilies or a small tree. I always hang a wreath on the front door and a hanging wreath in the window looks gorgeous and inviting.

I wrap my balustrade going up the stairs with garlands, and of course the kitchen needs some love, whether it's a gingerbread house, a variety of Christmas cakes on display, or a collection of real or artificial trees.

This is the time of the year to have fun. Create a look that fits with the style of your home - there is nothing worse than decorations that clash.

What are your tips for the tree?

I always decorate the tree in one go. My tree already has the lights in it, which makes life so much easier - no untangling needed!

I start with filling in the centre of the tree with what I call the fillers; inexpensive balls that give the tree depth. I then use my special decorations on the outer branches. Don't forget to stand back often and make sure you are covering the tree evenly.

If you use the same decorations every year (which most of us do), add to the collection with one or two new ones so you have something to look forward to the following year.

Put your lights on an automatic timer so you don't have to climb underneath to turn them on, and if you have a real tree don't forget to top the water up.

How should we decorate the table?

My favourite part is working out what my table will look like. I always style my table back with my gift wrapping and the colour of my tree decorations. This really is to me the most exciting part of Christmas.

This year I will be using green and white, as that is what my collection, Chyka Home at Harris Scarfe, is all about. Using just two colours makes your look cohesive and not clash.

There is nothing worse than your table standing out from the rest of the way your home looks. Make sure early on you know exactly how many people you have coming so you have the right number of plates, cutlery and glassware, and buy the Christmas crackers early.

Whether you are eating inside or outside really should be an indicator of what your table centre should be. I always set my table the day before so I am prepared and know that on Christmas Day I can actually enjoy some of the fun. I tend to use decorations that are easy, like my beautiful paper Christmas trees or a Christmas tree garland.

I always use place cards to show my guests where to sit, as I love that I have really thought about who will sit with who.

We tend to have a buffet-style lunch, so making sure there are plenty of platters and servingware available.

Make it all as easy as possible - set up the bar for guests to help themselves and have the Spotify Christmas list ready to go. Most importantly, have fun and have a very Merry Christmas.

This story Christmas with Chyka - her expert tips for a festive house first appeared on The Canberra Times.