Renowned for both her elegance and her exquisite attention to detail, Laura Hammett, is, amongst other things, a fabulous host. Pair this natural finesse with a love of Christmas and you can see why she is our source of festive interior inspiration.
We found out how the London Designer likes to host Christmas in her new Hampshire home and what she loves most about the holiday.
What do you love most about the holidays?
I love the build-up the most, with lights and decorations everywhere and I’m a sucker for Christmas songs. I will never tire of that buzz that’s in the air in December, especially when it comes to my children who are still full “believers” so it’s all very magical.
What is your favourite Christmas tradition?
We have so many in our family, but all the prep on Christmas Eve before the kids go to bed is probably the most memorable. As well as setting out a plate of Santa, we mix glitter into a bag of seeds and all run around our drive scattering them for the reindeer.
The kids are at their most excitable at this point so it's also a great way for them to burn off energy before trying to get them to sleep. We have also been dressing them up in reindeer costumes on Christmas Eve for a photo in front of the tree since they were born. The outtakes are always the most fun to look back on over the years and we plan to keep this tradition going for as long as they’ll let us (the bribes are starting to kick in already...).
What was your most memorable Christmas?
We always host Christmas and extend the invite out to everyone, but with a real mix of family members and situations it ends up different each year. One of our most memorable Christmases would have to be the first one after our daughter was born. We had Aaron’s [Laura's husband and co-founder of Laura Hammett Interiors] extended family, a few friends who joined last minute and then a surprise visit from Aaron’s brother dressed as Santa (complete with sack of presents), who was living in America at the time. It was such an amazing, unexpected day.
How has Christmas changed since you've had children?
Aaron and I have always been very into Christmas, but it’s definitely more of an event now that we have children. I’m generally very big on celebrations and parties and get so much pleasure out of creating memories for us all as a family and Christmas is no exception.
We have our usual decorations in the house (carefully curated, of course) which we all do as a family, but I like to keep things fun for the kids too, so they have their own decorations and tree in the playroom which are full of colour and homemade ornaments.
Tell us about the best Christmas party that you've ever hosted.
A few years ago we invited a big group of our closest friends and their children to ours on Christmas Day. There were 9 adults and 8 kids and everyone made a dish and chipped in with cooking and clearing up. The kids were in their element with all of their friends, and it was the most wonderfully chaotic day that went long into the night.
What is your favourite way to decorate for the holidays?
Our new house in Hampshire is a lovely Georgian detached house that is so fun to decorate on the outside. We have a flat roof portico above the front door where we put a big lit tree and run lights all along the roofline, along with a scattering of lit wicker animals on the drive. It gives me so much pleasure coming home in the evening, and we’ve become known in the village as “the Christmas house”.
Aside from the main tree in the living room and the kids’ tree in the playroom, I love to dress other areas of the house with garlands and foliage. My trick is to use a base of good quality faux and then tuck some real stems and branches in that can be updated over the month when they dry out. You get something different each year that way without having to start from scratch each time or have tired, dried-out displays by Christmas Day and beyond.
Tell us a story about the most thoughtful gift you’ve received at Christmas.
Anything that’s been made by my children will mean the most to me, along with something that involves the person’s time. My sister and I have often gifted each other a day together just the two of us, which these days, with our busy lives, is rare and very special.
What is your best piece of advice for hosting Christmas?
Preparation is key with hosting any event, especially Christmas. It’s no good if you’re stressed and not enjoying it yourself. Do as much of the cooking as possible before the day and delegate jobs so it doesn’t all fall on you.
Give the kids a responsibility, so they feel involved and you can still spend time together rather than you being in the kitchen alone while everyone else is having fun in another room.
Put music on and make it part of the festivities rather than a chore. If spending the day with close family and friends, they will usually bring a dish to just warm up and add to the meal, again to spread the load.
I then also decorate the table the day before because that job always takes longer than you think, and it’s just as important to me as the food so can’t be rushed!
Where is your favourite place to spend the holidays?
At home, always. We’ve rented a cottage once which was really lovely, but there’s no place like home for me, surrounded by people I love.
Do you have any go-to last minute gift ideas?
Aside from my “in stock” accessories collection, you mean??? A scented candle or cashmere socks are always a safe bet in my eyes. You can never have too many, and they are one of those indulgent things that people love but don’t usually buy for themselves.