April and the Bear Blog

A Creative Christmas – with Elaine of Leo + Cici

Welcome to ‘ A Creative Christmas’ – a blog series where we speak to independent, inspirational business women from the Irish creative scene about how they celebrate Christmas + any festive secrets and traditions they might have and don’t mind sharing!

Today we chat to interior designer extraordinaire Elaine Verdon of Leo + Cici. Elaine is one of those people that you meet and instantly like – you can’t help but want to be around her. She’s incredibly talented, hard-working, stylish and an all around sound person – I admire her a lot.

Where will you be spending this Christmas?

I’m a huge Christmas fan, and generally start thinking about it and planning it months in advance….The plan this year is to head to our house in Roscommon and we’ll host my family there. We do one year on, one year off with each of our
families and 2020 is the year with mine. I love hosting but don’t have the space in Dublin to accommodate the Verdon’s, so I have convinced them all to head west! My husband Simon is from Roscommon, so we’ll be able to visit his family too.

Elaine’s beautiful home in Roscommon.

But given the current climate and restrictions, we may just have a small Christmas in our house
with our little boy Arthur and our labrador, Daisy. However, I’m crossing everything for a big family Christmas!

Any festive traditions?

Once the Sky Christmas channel goes live, I’ll watch all the Christmas movies…religiously! A big tradition for us is to get our Christmas tree from Wade’s Christmas Tree Farm, you get to pick the one you want and they cut it down on the spot. Dressing the tree is also really important to me and always involves watching Home Alone 1 with a hot port or three!

Christmas shopping with my besties, followed by dinner and drinks in my absolute favourite L’gueuleton and then on the 22nd of December, Simon, Arthur and I go for our own little festive lunch and drinks in the Westbury. Growing up we always got a Christmas stocking on our bed filled with treats like books, candles, chocolate etc. Then we would all have a cooked breakfast, and once you’re washed and dressed, we sit down and open presents with some bubbles. I’ve started the same tradition with a stocking for Arthur and Simon too.

Prior to spending Christmas with Simon, I would always spend Christmas Eve in my parent’s
house, helping my mom make the stuffing and dress the turkey etc while watching Home Alone
2 (they’re my absolute favourites) . However, my in-laws have their own tradition on Christmas
Eve, where they cook the ham and eat a big dinner and have drinks. I did this last year and
loved it! It made the festivities last so much longer! Definitely bringing that to my family this year.

Festive music is also played in between movies – I prefer the classics like Frank Sinatra, Ella
Fitzgerald and Andy Williams, crooning in the background. Oh and Chris Rea!

Tell us how you’ll decorate?

When it comes to Christmas trees I tend to go big, however, since having a child who likes to destroy shiny things, we’ve had to scale back. I’m hoping to introduce a bigger tree this year and trust that Arthur won’t tear it down (to be continued…). I’ve
a cute collection of paper trees which look great on the fireplace too if I don’t get to have a tree this year. I put fairy lights everywhere, no room is safe and loads of candles. They add so much atmosphere plus everyone looks dreamy in candlelight.

Over the years I’ve built up an eclectic display of festive decorations and add a few new pieces every year. I try not to focus on one theme or look, so they’ll last a lifetime.

Fail-safe presents for home lovers?

I tend to buy things I know people really want or can eat or drink over the holidays. Candles, candleholders, beautiful glassware, books, food , gin and wine are my go to gifts for homelovers or hosts. The Move candleholder is a great gift idea.

Any inventive ideas for wrapping?

I try to be as sustainable as possible when it comes to gift wrapping. I use brown recyclable paper or gift bags when wrapping gifts, with real fabric ribbon that people can reuse and some fresh greenery. It can also be fun to use old magazines or
wallpaper too.

What’s on the menu?

Everything. We start the day with a cooked breakfast, then nibbles and champagne over presents, dinner at about 6pm followed by a cheese board, port and finished with the obligatory leftover sambos! Stephen’s Day we do it all again but it’s much more relaxed!

For more on Elaine’s design services pop here.

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