Lily Pebbles and her husband Rich are preparing for their second Christmas with their daughter. Only last year she was a newborn baby - and this year she’s a fully fledged toddler - so the bar for entertainment is set somewhat higher. "We’re focusing everything on her," says Lily from her London home. "She’ll know what presents are and be able to enjoy the music and the food – and she’ll be really, really funny."
Before the season really kicks in though, we’ve given Lily the opportunity to style her own perfect Christmas with John Lewis & Partners. With a totally blank canvas, the superstar content creator – who’s renowned for her love of earthy tones, rustic textures and bold use of colour – will take over a house and style it up, the Lily Pebbles way.
For Lily, tablescaping at Christmas is about adding carefully considered elements. "It’s about building layers. And I really think having greenery makes such a difference," she says of the approach she’s taken to styling John Lewis’ AW20 tableware.
Lily is quick to mention one thing which is often forgotten when it comes to home styling. "For me, scent is really important – home fragrance," she explains. "I’m very into candles and diffusers. I love putting one in the hallway so when someone comes into your house – when they’re allowed – it just hits them. Most of the year I have very clean smells like fig and linen, but at Christmas I go all out with festive scents. It’s so heartwarming and nice, like having mulled wine on the hob all the time."
From the John Lewis challenge to her own home, finding cosiness and comfort feels more important than ever and Lily’s popularity has surged as she’s begun vlogging more and more from her own house, discussing the details of life and her daily routine.
"I love cosy things. We have a log burner but we don’t have the logs out all year. So we’ll get those out and put them next to the fire, with a nice cashmere throw on the sofa. Little things like that I think," she says. "And of course we hang stockings on the fireplace!" And what cosier way to start Christmas day than with a cup of tea in bed.
Fast forward to lunch time and it’s simple, chic table runners, rich green napkins and woven placemats that form the backbone of her table styling, in a nod to her own love for natural materials and a certain refined sophistication. "And candles as well – but then when you lay the food down, that’s almost part of the table decoration too!”
An elaborate meal is of course the main feature of the day, but only after a serious amount of canapes have been consumed by Lily - the self-confessed “Queen of canapes” - while the cooking is underway. Recreating this moment, Lily clashes metallic and green-glazed platters with an olive wood chopping board, for a relaxed, homely feel.
When it comes to decorating, it’s only fairly recently that Lily has been able to exercise her creativity on her own terms. "I lived at home until I was 28 and then we had a tiny flat so we couldn’t do much, we just had a tiny tree in the corner. Then we moved into our house and my style has been evolving from that."
As fans of her YouTube and Instagram account can attest, Lily’s isn’t a fixed aesthetic; she opts for classic pieces and careful layering rather than one prescribed 'look'. "Even now I’m constantly changing and trying to work out what my style is," she continues. "I think it’s evolved from having my own home really." One influence is clear; a certain hygge-ness, warmth and minimalism shine through in her styling - note the Scandi-inspired, black crockery she picked out for the John Lewis Christmas table.
Now Lily has a daughter, she’s having to do more organising early on for the festive season. This hasn’t always been the case. "My birthday is on 9th December and I used to think people started Christmas too early and it made me anxious," she laughs. "But now I’m older I love starting early, especially now that I have my own house." How old is she, exactly? A pause. "Um, I have no idea, I think I’m going to be 33 this year. But honestly I get so confused!"
Like the rest of us, Lily and her family have no idea what Christmas will look like this year. And with a big family with "millions of small children", most of whom live nearby in London, Christmas was a logistical challenge even before COVID came along.
"It’s weird because last year we switched it up for the first time ever," explains Lily. "We gave my mum the year off and did house hopping – starter at my sister’s house, main course at my house, dessert at my sister’s and then presents at my parents’ house. It worked really well because you didn’t get that afternoon slump feeling. Because there’s a lot of kids in my family it can be quite intense being in one place."
This is fairly typical of the Pebbles family approach to Christmas. Everyone mucks in to make sure the day goes brilliantly – with a family of "amazing" cooks, Lily happily ends up on tablescaping duty. "Why do we only eat Christmas food at Christmas, especially some of the side dishes!" asks Lily. "I say this every year. My family are so good at cooking, I want to invite everyone over so they can experience it." The food is so good, in fact, that come 7pm, everyone can be found piling their favourite leftovers into a delicious supper sandwich.
It’s clear it’s the small details and family moments that Lily relishes. "I’ve got such a strong memory of when I was a little girl of getting really dressed up for Christmas Day and wearing a tartan dress and tights and getting excited when guests arrived and running round the house, sliding everywhere!"
Now it’s less tartan dresses, more space for food. "I just want to be comfy and I want to be able to eat as much food as possible. One year I was pregnant and that was ideal," she laughs. Lily’s clothing is like her attitude to home decorating: relaxed and textured. "So definitely loungewear," she states. "At Christmas I like to have a new pair of pyjamas to wear and then loungewear but I do like to feel like I’ve made an effort. I do my hair and makeup. Then change into pyjamas again in the evening."
A pyjama to loungewear to pyjama day then. After the year we’ve all had, that sounds just about right.
Listen to Lily and Anna Newton (The Anna Edit) discuss the Christmas challenge on their John Lewis & Partners episode of the At Home With podcast.
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