Christmas trees reveal much about current trends. Keep an eye out this year and you’ll see gorgeous glass ornaments dangling from the branches of festive trees in what likely will be an enduring theme throughout 2022.
Glass blowing’s appeal has stood the test of time as each piece is unique with its own special and sometimes delightfully imperfect feel — the opposite of mass-produced tat.
Sir Elton John is one of several celebrities who are fans of U.S. artist Dale Chihuly, aka the Prince of Glass, famous for his exuberantly coloured sculptural creations.
Skilled: Contestant Nao Yamamoto making glass in the traditional way on Netflix’s TV series Blown Away
One of his chandeliers, a 27 ft extravaganza, hangs in the Victoria & Albert museum.
But the combination of the pandemic and a popular Netflix series is making many aspire to smaller and much cheaper pieces of this glass.
Glass blowing is made through a process that traces its beginnings back to the first century BC in Syria and Ancient Rome.
In Blown Away, the Canadian Netflix series, ten glass blower artists battle heat and breakages to secure a £45,000 prize.
This competition is to turn sand, lime and soda (the constituents of glass) into winning objects — rather like The Great British Bake Off.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that blowing down a pipe to shape liquid glass, while standing close to a furnace burning at a temperature of 1,000 c, is rather more dangerous than piping icing onto a layer cake.
Sophie Conran’s £55.25 set of six gold-plated and patterned baubles is hand-made in Cairo from Borosilicate glass
The pandemic has deepened our appreciation of home and our determination to make it as cheery and comfortable as possible, especially this Christmas.
In lockdown, uniformly neutral interiors, however elegant, could seem chilly. People have tried to bring more colour and individuality into their homes.
Some households have been opting for bolder paints and wallpapers; others have been introducing brighter accessories like patterned rugs or throws.
But amid the growing planet-friendly desire to move away from the throwaway, there has been a surge of interest in crafted items made to last.
Pooky’s £111 Lisboa hand-blown glass shade for a pendant light in amber, green, pink and turquoise typifies the ‘buy less, buy better’ movement and would enliven a grey and beige interior.
Habitat’s hand-blown £20 Cielo blue and green vase or Toast’s small French-made £15 Amour green vase are the sort of heart-lifting presents that many would like to find under the Christmas tree.
Fine Nordic’s £33.99 set of five mix-coloured hand-blown glass tumblers, meanwhile, would add some Scandi to a Christmas table.
Oka points out that no two tumblers from its Pulcinella white hand-decorated and hand-blown £70 set of four is the same, making it ‘a unique and interesting addition to a dining table or a home bar’.
The preference for smaller events at home with family and selected friends has made people more willing to splash out on fine glasses and tableware which, with care, can continue to delight for some time.
Christmas decorations come into service just once a year. But there is the same wish to buy less, buy better, with the calculation that if you keep a £50 set of ornaments for a decade, this works out at £5 a year.
Sophie Conran’s £55.25 set of six gold-plated and patterned baubles is ‘designed to be treasured for a lifetime, and passed down from generation to generation’. The Dawn Gold Leaf bauble, pictured, is hand-made in Cairo from borosilicate glass.
Cox & Cox has a range of hand-blown glass baubles from £7.88 for six, including a delightful £30 set of 12 baubles with a Victorian feel.
Glass of Venice sells pieces created in the Venetian island of Murano where glass was blown in medieval times and continues today.
A Murano star in blue, green or red costs £23.20 and is sure to spark joy. Just make sure you pack away safely all these beauties once the festivities are over, and mark the box ‘fragile’.
What your home needs is a… Christmas cushion
Cosy: The £68 Anthropologie Snow Day cushion
A Christmas cushion is comfort and joy combined, which is why your home needs one, especially since there is a style to suit every taste and pocket.
Dunelm caters for lovers of glitz with its £15 Catherine Lansfield angel cushion, decorated with sequin wings.
It also has £14 cushions each with a picture of a different breed of dog wearing Santa hats.
Other options from the worlds of birds and animals include M&S’s £19.50 robin cushion, or Joe Browns Glorious Stag £24 cushion in burgundy and gold.
Anyone dreaming of a white Christmas will be drawn to the £68 Anthropologie Snow Day cushion decorated with fir trees and figures on a frozen pond.
Habitat has a £14 Christmas Joy cushion printed with people carrying a tree and presents.
If you’re after a modest option, B&Q has green cushions with the message Merry Christmas in gold lettering at just £5 each.
And H&M Home has £9.99 linen-blend cushion cover with the words Merry Christmas To All. Very plain, but it’s the thought that counts.