December is a hugely important month in Danish design and home decor.
Although the Nordic countries are Protestant and people here are not as frequent church goers as those in some other predominantly Christian countries, we mark the birth of Jesus Christ in the home.
Filling the rooms with home made decorations – a tradition going back decades – is the Scandi way of celebrating and promoting the festive spirit.
- From minimal Scandi look to colourful decoration
- White Christmas & the living room
- Scandi Boho Christmas
- Five most stylish Scandi Christmas decorations
- How to decorate the lunch table
- Floral decorations for the Scandi living room
The getting together to make decorations is as important as the decorations themselves.
Schools clear a day in the festive calendar to allow pupils to make decorations for the classroom.
And local community and leisure groups make time to sit down together with scissors and paper to make home and Christmas tree decorations.
Christmas Ideas – shop the look
And families do the same – with parents teaching their children to make paper hearts.
For many people this is often the oldest memory they have of Christmas as children, a real Hygge event (read more about Hygge in this blog post).
But what does the Scandi home look like at Christmas?
From the minimal Scandi look to colourful, festive Christmas decorations …
First the colours – it’s all about red, green…and of course white!
Red and green, braided paper hearts are perhaps the single most memorable Christmas decoration in Denmark.
The braided heart combines the colour theme with the feeling of togetherness, as in getting together round the table to make Christmas decorations.
And it is versatile – hangs on the Christmas tree, on paintings on the wall and the Christmas wreath.
It also taps right into the Danish sense of Hygge.
Paper hearts, along with other Scandi Christmas classics such as the white braided star, feature in the living room, the kitchen and children’s bedrooms.
White Christmas – the Scandinavian Christmas Living Room, what does it look like?
Despite its great reputation for minimalism and pastel colours, style goes out the window in Scandinavia over Christmas.
Indeed, there are those hellbent on the pared down look even over the festive period, but in reality few stick to the modern minimalist look.
Christmas is about tradition – when people use not only decor they’ve made themselves, but particularly old items handed down through generations.
Much Scandi Christmas decor in the living room is therefore traditional red, green and some gold and silver pieces – the white palette is rare.
White Christmas: How the glossies present Scandi Christmas, but the reality is more colourful
Scandi Boho Christmas – spice up the festive season with some vintage decor
The Scandi Boho romantic wouldn’t dream of keeping Christmas entirely white – in fact, few Scandis would.
Christmas is about tradition and vintage – it’s where the famous Scandi minimalism meets Hygge.
Christmas is a combination of decorating the home and having downtime with family.
In some countries Christmas is about friends – not in the Nordic countries.
Here, Christmas is all about family. Friends are for New Year’s Eve.
Christmas: Shop the Scand look…
A Scandi Boho Christmas is, however, little less conservative.
Like Scandi Boho, which takes inspiration from the adventurousness of the younger generation and its travels abroad and alternative living, the Scandi Boho Christmas decor is a blend of Nordic traditional Christmas colours and pieces from other cultures.
Also, there’s a trend towards a more “authentic” or “rustic” Christmas – where old, original weave paper hearts, wooden ornaments and natural candles instead of multi-coloured electric lights take centre stage.
It is a rejection of mass produced nick naks and decorative pieces manufactured specifically for the Christmas shopper.
Five Most stylish Scandi Christmas decorations
1. There can be no Christmas without the weave heart (red & white or red & green) – certainly not a Scandinavian Christmas.
2. There can be no Christmas without the weave heart (red & white or red & green) – certainly not a Scandinavian Christmas.
3. “Kravlenisser” – or Crawling Elves: This is very much an ancient Scandi invention helping to create a fun Christmas atmosphere, particularly for children. A kravlenisse is a “baby Santa Claus, or mini Father Christmas, which appear in Christmas stories. Dressed in red like Santa, they also appear in home decor as paper “nisser” stuck to other pieces including paintings and lamp shades, hence the name crawling elves.
4. The Christmas Stocking … not a traditional old Scandi decorative piece, but possibly an import from the USA and Walt Disney’s wonderful Christmas show. One of the few Americanisations of the Scandi Yuletide. Like in the USA it hangs on the fireplace, not filled with presents…
5. The Calendar: by this we don’t mean the paper version with bits of chocolate behind each of the 24 or 25 door (there are only 24 days to Chrismas in Scandinavia – with the main even being on Christmas Eve). We do mean a tapestry version, hanging on the wall – in homes with children who remove one of the mini presents attached to the calender for each day. The decorative calender is often passed down the generations, not least as they represent a time when people had time to sit down and sew these pieces which take along time to finish.
How to decorate the Scandinavian Christmas Lunch table
Christmas Lunch in Scandinavia is not the main event as it is in the USA and England. Dinner on Christmas Eve is the big moment, but lunch on the 25th is also important. And the decor is equally so.
A red, gree or white tablecloth is a must. In the picture above the tablecloth features the weave heart with spots of gold.
Red and white are the colours of the Danish flag – in Denmark the flag also features heavily in Christmas decorations.
Team the lunch table with white ceramic or silver candlesticks and a crystal vase.
Floral decorations for the Scandi Living Room at Christmas
The Poinsettia is a Scandi must-have in December – as in many other countries. But the boldly coloured “Christmas Star”, as the plant is called in the North, is a stand-out item against the otherwise subtle palette.
Some people have just one in the window sill, but many scatter the Poinsettia all over the room and in many sizes.
It is virtually impossible to walk into a Scandinavian home in December and not see the iconic red and green plant – as sure a sign that Christmas has come as George Michael’s hit Last Christmas. But we’re not tired of the plant yet and never will be…