While the soft light of winter filters through the gilded trees and the landscape begins to slow, we're embracing the chiller days and longer nights that November brings us.
Balmy autumn days have given way to bracing walks, comforting roasts and crackling log fires.
And if you're anything like us, all thoughts are slowly turning to Christmas.
Gathering our loved ones around the table is one of life's great pleasures - the last two years have surely taught us that. And so we're looking forward, more than ever this season, to being together again.
Presence, not presents is our mantra for this, the most heartwarming of seasons.
Family gatherings, parties with our favourites, fabulously festive lunches…. Home - and hope - is where the heart is this Christmas.
Clove is the colour
Clove, the new-season Neptune shade, is the perfect hook for your Christmas scheme.
Timeless and elegant, it hovers between a rich plum and a deep walnut and is the perfect foil for festive greenery and crackling logs in open fireplaces.
From cloakrooms to hallways, dining rooms to statement walls in bedrooms, it works brilliantly with dark woods, copper and brass and olive accents, and is a natural with neutrals and plaid upholstery.
Not ready to decorate?
Pile cushions in rich clove linen and gold velvet atop neutral sofas. Add fur throws, flickering Cranberry candles and pretty bowls brimming with pine cones - it’ll make your sitting room feel festively cosy without resorting to the gaudy reds and greens of times gone by.
Celebrate the natural world
More than ever, we’ve all embraced a new-found love for the great outdoors, being together with friends and family and treading more lightly on the planet.
Bringing the natural world into your home not only adds a delicious fragrance to your rooms, but also a sense of the wintry landscape outside, being at one with nature.
Gather evergreens from the garden - glossy holly, trailing ivy, spruce branches, along with woody herbs like rosemary - and bunch sprigs together with pine cones.
Turn these into garlands above a fire place, with dried oranges, berries and cinnamon, or wire them on to a homespun wreath on a beautifully painted front door or gilded interior wall.
Continue the natural theme on your Christmas table, stringing sprigs together with garden twine and place along a natural linen runner, wound around tiny fairy lights, tall candles, tea lights and pine cones.
Add tiny pot plants - succulents are on-trend this season - and top every napkin with a thoughtfully-placed piece of greenery, for colour and fragrance.
Carefully chosen pebbles or brown paper luggage tabs tied with garden twine make delightfully rustic name places - and are a nod to this year’s trend of sustainability and togetherness.
Spice up your life
Rich shades of clove, gold and spice are always welcoming, and work brilliantly in hallways and on dining tables alike.
Dress dark wood console tables with bountiful evergreens, add gold and bronze votives with tea lights, then add height with Neptune’s brass Heddon candlesticks - available in-store in both tall and short versions.
They look stunning with Coleridge dinner candles in white or cranberry, or group together these whimsical ceramic votives.
We love Neptune's Isla velvet stockings, in large or small, hung from a mantelpiece in shades from Finch to Mallard and Cranberry. All available in our Neptune store-in-store.
Richly-coloured bowls of pomegranates, figs, oranges and nuts will add to to the seasonal drama, on side tables or as a centrepiece for your dining table.
Adding vintage glassware and beautifully patterned old china to your Christmas table will help create a sense of place and antique style.
Deep blues paired with rich purples and gold accents are another key trend for 2021.
Create a luxe garland for the centre of the table using faux eucalyptus, dark berries, frosted pine cones and sprigs of spruce.
Just as stunning as fresh foliage, Holloways range of faux flowers allow you to be more creative and enjoy your decorations for longer.
Add strings of fairy lights to create sparkle and the light will bounce off crystal glassware, polished silver and elegant white crockery with a metallic rim.
Finish with dark blue or rich purple napkins and antique brass napkin rings, all available in-store.
All that glisters…
Redolent of the snowy landscape outside - without the freezing temperatures - there’s something ethereal about silver and white schemes.
And while silver and Christmas are long-term partners, this year they’re layered with golds to add warmth and depth.
Frosted centrepieces - think bleached twigs, painted wood, intertwined with silver, gold and white baubles, shimmering in the light from tall candles.
A beautiful bauble at every place setting, with a handwritten name label attached, is a lovely personal touch, making your guests feel welcomed and valued.
Holloways gift shop is full of quirky decorations to inspire your tablescape.
Cool Scandinavian style is always a festive failsafe when it comes to dressing sitting rooms and Christmas tables alike.
In living areas, keep everything pared back with natural wood, bowls of pine cones and little posies of greenery tied to doors and window frame, then add faux fur and skins, pile on cosy throws in tactile neutrals and introduce a rich, natural green as your accent colour. Ceramic trees are a stylish touch.
In dining rooms, white china, starched linen napkins, gleaming silver cutlery and sparkling glassware are offset beautifully by hand-turned wooden bowls and vintage cut glass dishes filled with bleached pine cones – simply fill a bucket with a weak bleach solution, add armfuls of pine cones and leave for a week, then rinse and dry.
Tall vases filled with silver birch branches hung with woodland finds add to the Nordic vibe, while forest treasure and mistletoe sprigs atop linen napkins complete the natural, simple look.
Tiny, thoughtfully-chosen presents, wrapped in brown paper with white velvet ribbon add a whimsical touch and will create a talking point for delighted guests.
Glass hurricane lamps at different heights, filled with tall white church candles, are stunning in a fireplace with carefully-piled logs.
Bedrooms aren’t always top of the list for Christmas decorating schemes.
While hallways and dining rooms are crammed with festive cheer, bedrooms can sometimes be left to their own devices.
And while a luxe, boutique hotel feel is always the goal for every guest room, even a few simple touches will make all the difference to your Christmas visitors.
In guest bedrooms, leave a thoughtful welcome note with a sprig of greenery on a bedside table.
Add vintage water glasses and a tiny decanter of sloe gin, or madeira, for a warming nightcap.
Add cosy throws and textured cushions and tuck slippers under the bed.
Festive touches to make your guests feel welcome
Your whole home should smell of Christmas, says Annie.
Neptune's Winterberry candles are deeply scented and fabulously festive with notes of spiced orange and red berries. Dot reed diffusers, three-wick candles and this apothecary-style candle in every room with sprigs of holly and spruce, and bring the scent of Christmas inside. Out of stock on Neptune's website, they're still avaialble in our Neptune store-in-store.
As your guests arrive, serve a homemade Christmas cocktail or three – think Champagne with redcurrant or cranberry, herbs from the garden and a touch of fraise de boise – with delicious make-ahead Christmas canapés.
And create a wrapping station – a simple wicker basket filled with beautiful wrapping paper, scissors and sticky tape to make last-minute present-wrapping a pleasure, not a chore, for your visitors.
Holloways Worcestershire showrooms – including our Neptune store-in-store – are open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm, up until Christmas Eve.
Why not combine your shopping trip with a visit to our award-winning Glasshouse restaurant, and enjoy a Christmas Shoppers' Lunch from our set menu, which includes a glass of bubbles and homemade Glasshouse nibbles.
Book your table on 01886 884665. View our menus here.
This article first appeared in the November issue of Midlands Living magazine.