How Fearne Cotton hosts the ultimate Christmas, with festive tablescaping and pre-loved decorations

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We spoke to presenter, podcast host and author Fearne Cotton to talk all things Christmas. From her favourite mix of decorations to the festive traditions her family never miss, look no further for your own slice of holiday inspiration. 

Nothing is quite as joyous as decorating your home with festive accents. Turning on strings of twinkling lights to welcome the dark evenings, going to town on elaborate baubles (because it’s not Christmas until you’ve made the annual pilgrimage to the fourth floor of Liberty London just for decorations); we all have beloved rituals at this time of year. And who better to probe for their revered home style than Fearne Cotton? 

We got to chat with the Happy Place podcaster to find out exactly how she likes to prep for the end-of-year festivities. Whether you’re curious about how Cotton likes to spend Christmas Day or how you can harness a fresh, unique Christmas style of your own with vintage and new pieces, we got Fearne to spill the intel. 

Your first note to jot down? Cotton’s family will be eating Christmas dins off a set of gorgeous vintage green glass plates from eBay. “I’m so in love with them,” she told Stylist. And yes, you’re going to want them too. Ahead you’ll read more insightful details about how she adds joy to her home, why she picked those particular green glass plates and what annual family traditions truly mean to her. 

Stylist: How do you add joy and happiness to your home at Christmas? 

Fearne Cotton: “Part of it is how we do it and that is certainly by letting the kids get involved and trying not to be too pernickety about having the perfect tree and stuff like that because it’s so lovely for the kids to pick and choose decorations and make the tree look truly eclectic. 

“With all the decorations, my house isn’t the sort of home where everything looks perfect; like clean lines and stainless steel. It’s a really cosy home. For me, that makes things easier when it comes to Christmas because we’ve got a real mix of stuff from when I was a kid, decorations that our kids have collected over the years, some of my husband’s mum’s stuff mixed with some new bits and bobs but also lots of really cute little bits from eBay that have been preloved.”

“It really reflects how I like to decorate my house in general; a mixture of old and new. Having those more sustainable pieces that are preloved but also have the storytelling around them. Thinking about who owned these decorations beforehand and which tree they were on. And there’s something really magical about preloved anything, but certainly with Christmas decorations, you can see they’ve got a bit more character and a story behind them.”

What are your favourite Christmas traditions? 

“Definitely decorating the tree with the kids is an absolute must. Putting Christmas music on and it’s chaos and the cats climbing the tree – It’s just absolute carnage! It’s so nice to decorate the house in general with the kids as they get so excited about helping out.

“We like to do a few other bits and bobs, like going to see some Christmas lights somewhere. We’ve just been to the Kew Gardens Christmas lights, which always kicks off the festive period for us.

“We always try and do a Christmas movie afternoon as well. I think the kids have already decided we’re going to watch A Boy Called Christmas again and get under a blanket and watch the movie. And all the house is decorated by that point and that’s like a real moment of ‘okay, it’s Christmas time.’”

How do you style your table for Christmas? 

“It’s a real mish-mash of older stuff, preloved and things that I bring out every year. I like to have some sort of theme. It can be just a colour. So, it could be one year it’s all red and gold or one year it’s sort of green with lots of foliage that I’ll go and pick in the garden or the local park.

“This Christmas I’ve got these amazing preloved green glass Christmas plates that I’m just so in love with, they’re so beautiful. They’re just going to add this really elegant sort of look to the table.”

Fearne’s Christmas tablescape

“Honestly, these plates are so beautiful it just proves that if you have a proper look around on eBay you can find so many beautiful things that can actually even set the theme. So they were the first thing that I spotted that I loved for the table and then the rest of the table has kind of evolved from there. 

“In terms of green being the main base colour and then working from there with some touches of gold and some really lovely preloved glasses for the table.

“Lots of candlelight too. I love candles on the table to make sure that the atmosphere feels really lovely.”

What is your one piece of advice when it comes to getting your home Christmas party ready? 

“Just try not to get too stressed! I was talking to one of my cousins about this recently and how we’ve all got, in our family, a tendency to sort of want everything to be and look perfect. And we spend so much time trying to get all of that sorted that we end up feeling a bit stressed and then you don’t properly enjoy the actual meal or the party.

“I quite like the planning bit so I don’t mind doing that but I don’t want it to overtake and become a stress. You’ve just got to keep it fun and not take it too seriously. If things are going wrong or you didn’t get it done in time or it didn’t look exactly like how you’d planned, don’t stress about it.”

“Certainly for Christmas Day itself I’ve sort of planned ahead by buying these vintage pieces, like the plates. Because of that I don’t feel too stressed. The rest of it will come together. I’m not going to get too hung up on all the details.

“I think it’s really easy to push yourself into total overwhelm and stress about all of it, the organising, the planning, the decorating. If you keep trying to bring the focus back to this is meant to be fun, let this just be fun and lighthearted, get the family involved, then the whole experience is much nicer.”

When do you start decorating your home for Christmas? 

“I’m pretty strict on the 1st of December in the house, otherwise you just start to feel sick of all of it by the time you get to Christmas Day. But I’ve started to get bits and bobs ready and start thinking about going into the loft to try to make sense of it all.

“I’ve got a good mix of tree decorations this year. I’ve got some old favourites like some David Bowie and some funny Elton John novelty ones mixed in with these cute preloved ones. They’re all ready to go, I’m just not putting them up until the first.”

Fearne’s tree decorations

When does your tree go up? And do you prefer a real or artificial tree? 

“I had been, for years, getting a real tree every year because of the smell and the sort of tradition of buying it. But I think more recently, sustainability has become, for everyone, a real focal point. As well as the concerns around just general consumerism, which is again why I’m really passionate about buying preloved. I always have been but I’m even more passionate these days because we can see the amount of waste everywhere.

“So this year I’ve decided to invest in a tree for life. I bought a fakey for the first time but it’s a really good one that looks really real. But I plan to have this tree forever and then hopefully this is something that I can pass down to my kids so that they can pass it to their kids and it can just stay in the family. I know you can rent trees but there isn’t anywhere near me that I’ve found where you can rent one. I’m still on the search because that might be an option as well, for other years if we have a smaller tree in the kitchen or something.

“I think there are really good ways of doing it sustainably now. But I’ve bought this fake one for this year just to see how it goes and that’s going to be my tree for life.”

At home with Fearne at Christmas

What does a typical Christmas morning look like in your house? 

“Well, the kids wake up obscenely early, insanely excited and then we tend to open all of our little Christmas stockings from Father Christmas in bed while I’m trying to work out what time of day it is. And it’s probably before 6am. Then we have a bit of breakfast and open some presents under the tree.

“Some years my stepkids are with us, some years they’re not and they come later in the day, so that’s a nice part of the day when they’re there. And then, usually, my family and sometimes some members of Jesse’s family all get together at our house. Mum and dad bring their dog, my brother comes and we just have a nice Christmas lunch. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary but I like it being the same every year. And I like that sort of familiarity and the tradition of it all.”

Images: Weber Shandwick

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