Christmas with Sue Jones
Sue Jones recently shared some Christmas decorating tips with Hannah Newton for the Telegraph Magazine. Photos by Claire Worthy .
For Sue and her husband Alexander, Christmas is all about filling their house with friends and family. The party kicks off with dinner to celebrate Sue’s birthday on 23rd December. Whereas their Christmas lunch is all about the traditional roast turkey, in the lead up to Christmas Sue likes to go off-piste “I love doing completely wacky dinners. Last year on my birthday I made Peking duck with pancakes and hoisin sauce for 12.”
The entrance to their house is a covered Roman walkway with beams decorated with faux ivy for Christmas. A pair of Conisbrough dining tables are covered with an array of pots and plants, and on the front door at the end hangs an oversized wreath woven with faux hydrangea, berry, ivy and eucalyptus stems.
Sue and Alexander are both avid collectors and inside the house, OKA pieces are nestled among antiques, portraits and treasures they’ve gathered over the years. For Christmas the pictures are topped with foliage and berries, a statue of a mounted knight wears a red festive hat, and the stone fireplaces are swathed with garlands and dried pine cones.
Christmas is one of the few times of year when everybody stops, and the house is the perfect sanctuary for Sue and her friends and family. Log fires roar, the sofas and armchairs are covered with throws and cushions to ensure that everyone truly relaxes and Alexander is in his element making cocktails for their guests.
At the centre of the house is the towering Christmas tree. “With such high ceilings anything but a large tree looks silly, but I like to keep the decorations simple by using a single colour and masses of lights. Otherwise it just takes over”. Presents wrapped and ribboned in bright colours and stockings for Minnie and Max (Sue and Alexander’s terriers) sit under the tree. Festive table decorations need not be complicated or time-consuming to put together and Sue’s recipe is simple: lots of candles, a scattering of fir cones and festive red berries, fun place names – this year they’re written in gold on leaves and tied to hip flasks and last year each guest had a personalised Marmite jar – plus plenty of glassware for added sparkle. Sue hangs more red baubles from Phalaenopsis orchids, ties white linen napkins with red tassels and gives everyone a handmade cracker. “I am a great believer that if you make an effort with the table, so it has a wow factor, even if it is a disastrous dinner party, it always begins with that high note.”