The first faltering days of the new year arrive, belts are let out a notch or two, hangovers have barely subsided and the nation breathes a collective sigh of relief at the end of the annual festivities for another year. Except for us, because it's at precisely this time of year that we start work on our plans for the following Christmas.
As crazy as it sounds, just as everyone else is taking down their decorations, we're busy meeting with our Christmas decoration suppliers to check out the new ranges and festive trends. To be completely honest, it can be hard to get enthused at first, even for a real Christmas fan like me, but it doesn't take long to 'get our eye in' and begin to curate our collections.
Now, there's a HUGE number of Christmas decorations to choose from out there, and quite honestly there's an awful lot of tat (just head to your nearest garden centre from August onwards if you don't believe me). So we like to work in stories, imagining Christmas in different places or periods in history, an English country house between the wars, or a Russian palace decorated by Karl Faberge, for instance.
For our Country House collection, our inspiration was close to home: we live in the countryside and we're surrounded by wildlife. So you'll find golden partridges and crowned birds, alongside beautiful glass decoration sets with the opulent look of the golden age. (You'll even find a rather distinguished-looking lion, though we can't claim to have many of those in Rutland).
For the Russian collection, embellished eggs, rich jewels and burnished gold are in abundance, inspired by Catherine the Great and the treasures of the Winter Palace. Even as I write, I find myself absent-mindedly humming Prokofiev's 'Troika'.
You'll find all our Christmas discoveries on our online store. We hope you'll enjoy shopping them as much as we love choosing them. Just spare a thought for us in January when we'll be hard at work on Christmas 2018...