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Christmas WishesAdvertising Feature

Sharing the joyAdvertising Feature

Family affair: Mel Martino convinced her sister Connie to open a gift store together which soon became a dedicated Christmas shop. Photo: Supplied

Want to keep up with this year's Christmas-decorations trends?

Make sure you look at pink, peacock colours (teal, blue and green) and candy-cane patterns.

These are the top sellers at Ambiance, a Christmas store in Melbourne that is open all year. The store is owned by sisters Connie and Mel Martino, who love spreading the joy of Christmas decorating.

Mel has her "finger on the pulse" for what will be popular when she ordered early in the year and was right when she tipped pink would be big.

"Every second order of a tree or ornament is pink," Connie said.

The trends change each year, and in almost 25 years of running the store, they've seen many different trends.

Connie's advice for anyone starting their Christmas decorations is first to pick a colour and then build on it.

"Some people have every colour you can think of, and that's fine too, but more and more people are sticking to colour schemes," she said.

"Buy a green tree and get a base colour like silver or gold and you can blend it with a colour each year or build upon it. You could do silver and pink this year and blue next year, then red."

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and Connie was rushing around the store after they'd reopened following a COVID lockdown.

One customer came to collect an online order of a nutcracker for her nan, who would be visiting from Benalla.

This connection with customers and sharing the joy Christmas decorating puts a smile on the sisters' faces.

"We love what we do," Connie said.

"We want to help people get the most joy and fun out of decorating for Christmas, and after the two years we've had, we all need a bit of joy in our lives."

Ambiance is truly family-owned, with the sisters' mother and husbands all involved.

Create a different Christmas tree

Christmas trees don't have to be plastic or freshly cut. Bunnings shares four different types of trees, and best of all, you can make them yourself.

Wrapping lights around a veggie cage will create a tree that's ideal for small spaces, outdoors or indoors. These are inexpensive and will last for years if looked after.

This festive and elegant tree makes the perfect centrepiece; it involves making a tree from dowel rod and a few other timber pieces.

Pieces of scrap timber can be transformed into classy tree decorations that can be used around the house. These can be enhanced with lights or painted.

With lights and a few sticky hooks, you can have a stunning light tree displayed on the wall. This is ideal for smaller spaces.

For step-by-step guides visit

Get crafty this ChristmasAdvertising Feature

FESTIVE FUN: Advent calendars can come in an array of styles, shapes and sizes. Get creative this Christmas and create your own. Photo: Shutterstock

It seems everyone is a little time-poor at Christmas.

The to-do list seems never-ending between buying and wrapping presents, preparing your Christmas feast, organising the logistics around travel dates, and juggling the different social events of the holiday season.

Plus, dare I forget, there are also kids who are usually on school break by then and need to be entertained.

The answer: Christmas crafts.

While some people may screw their nose up at the idea of getting creative, they may change their mind with this list of five Christmas craft activities, as they are both cute and functional.

They are also quick and easy to organise, yet still fun enough for adults to complete.

1. Christmas ornaments

You can create Christmas ornaments out of almost anything - paper, cardboard, pinecones, doilies, pasta, popsicles, and twigs, to name a few. As long as you have a piece of string at the ready to attach it to the tree, you will be laughing. Or you could even buy cheap baubles with the string already attached and decorate them yourselves with paint, sequins and glitter.

2. Stockings

Create personalised stockings for your entire family. Find some old fabric or visit your local fabric store and cut out two stocking shapes precisely the same size. Kids can glue the two pieces of fabric together around the hemline while adults should be capable of sewing - hand or machine, it's your choice - them together. And remember, don't make your stocking too big - or do. But remember, the bigger the stocking, the more gifts it will take to fill it.

Sharing the joy

3. Advent calendar

Who doesn't love an advent calendar? And what a simple idea you can create at home, and the best bit is that your calendar can be as classy or dowdy as you like. Find yourself a nice long branch from out in the backyard at home and tie 25 brown paper bags to it with hidden gems inside, as pictured left. Perhaps you want something more traditional - you could make a Santa face with the numbers 1 to 25 listed inside Santa's beard. For every day that passes, you can glue a cotton ball to the corresponding number, and by Christmas day, Santa's beard will be complete.

4. Wrapping paper

Give your kids a roll of butchers paper and let them go wild with paints, textas, pencils, glitter and glue. Once their masterpiece is finished and left long enough to dry, you can roll it up again and use it as wrapping paper for all your Christmas gifts. This project will not only keep your kids busy until Santa arrives, but it'll save you making a last-minute dash to the shop when you realise you have no Christmas wrapping paper at home.

5. Star topper

Have you ever had the honour of putting the star on top of the Christmas tree? If so, you can probably still feel the overwhelming joy it brings. Well, why not take it up a notch this year and top the tree with a star you, or your children, have handmade. All you need is glue and five paint stirring sticks which you can pick up from your local hardware store or, for a more rustic look, five straight sticks collected from under trees all measuring the same size. Glue the sticks together in the shape of a star. If you want to get fancy, you can paint the star and tape clear string lights to it, so it glows at night. You can make smaller versions of this with popsicle sticks and hang them as ornaments in windows, from the mantle or on the tree.