Hints for Christmas decorating

Original: Simply decorated with twinkling lights and a barbed-wire star, this stunning Christmas tree was made from grapevines
Original: Simply decorated with twinkling lights and a barbed-wire star, this stunning Christmas tree was made from grapevines

When you purchase decorations, think about where it will go – think about height and colour.

Often it is more effective to decorate one area, as opposed to putting a few decorations everywhere. For example, it may be a hall table or a sideboard. Buy for that area and when you are happy with that, think about another area you want to decorate.

Christmas presents don't have to be monetary but can be acts of kindness – doing something to help someone else.

Words in a card can be just as precious as gifts.

Buy throughout the year when you see something that you know a friend would love. It can take the stress out of the pre-Christmas rush.

Think about a menu for Christmas that is special but doesn't necessarily require a lot of preparation or cooking on the day.

Use fresh greenery from your garden where possible – pine, ivy, magnolia, camellia, holly and pinecones. Then add a little artificial colour, for example red berries or glitter leaf sprays; this way you can put together an instant table decoration with little effort. This type of decoration will last for Christmas day only and is quick and easy to clean up.

By spraying leaves and pinecones with a gold spray, you can achieve a Christmas enhancement easily.

The best thing about Christmas is that it's a gathering time for families and there are some special dishes that you can make only at this time of year, such as this delicious treat with a coffee late on a summer evening. Enjoy.

Coffee Treat

Malakoff

450g milk chocolate roughly chopped

30g cocoa butter or Kremelta

225g Nutella

130g flaked roasted almonds

50g shelled pistachio nuts

250g dark chocolate ( 70 per cent cocoa solids)

Line 18cm x 20cm sponge roll tin with aluminium foil.

In a small pot, combine chocolate and cocoa butter. Over medium heat, stir the mixture until chocolate and butter are melted and combined.

Add Nutella, stir well. Add nuts and stir to mix.

Pour into the prepared tray and leave to set in a cool place. Spread the top with extra melted chocolate.

Cut into small thin pieces; makes about 50.

The Marlborough Express