Spotlight Your Sparkle This Christmas
By Jamie Durie, Allianz Australia’s Chief Festive Officer
I love an Australian Christmas. We do it like nowhere else, with the sun, beach, backyard cricket & BBQs. So many fantastic things about life in this beautiful country are synonymous with Christmas.
New research from Allianz Australia has revealed over half (54.8 per cent) of Aussies will deck their homes out with a festive light display to kick off and spread Christmas cheer. The vast majority (80.3 per cent) believe festive lights are one of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in Australia and a quarter (27 per cent) of Aussies decorate their homes simply for the sense of community it brings.
With the countdown to Christmas now on, I’ve got some festive tips and tricks to not only light up your home this Christmas, but to do so safely, sustainably and in a way that celebrates in the Aussie way.
- Purchase a solar panel to reduce your energy costs
Light up your home the sustainable way this Christmas. Using solar panels will mean you are reducing your emissions and doing your bit for the environment, while also saving you money in the long run!
- Build more sustainable gardens
Before looking at exotic species of plants in your local garden center, why not take a look at what Australian native plants might be available to you in your garden?
I love the idea of Aussies building a more sustainable festive garden that is authentically Australian. Native plants are fairly self-sufficient, as they’re in their own homegrown soil, so not only will you be saving water, you’ll also have less maintenance work too.
I’ve broken down state by the state the perfect Australian native plants for your garden:
- NSW: Christmas Bush, Grevillea Robyn Gordon, Grevillea Royal Mantle
- VIC: Woolly Bush – otherwise known as Adenanthos Sericeus, perfect to grow in a pot all year and bring inside for a month as your Christmas tree
- QLD: Bottle Tree, Paperbark Tree
- SA: Grevillea
- TAS: Casuarina
- WA: Kangaroo Paws, Banksias, Desert Sturt Pea
- NT: Billy Button, Spotted Emu Bush
My favourite is the NSW Christmas bush. When you look outside and see the red leaves all throughout the bush, you feel as though you’re celebrating Christmas the way nature intended.
Get back to nature by wrapping fairy lights around a native Australian tree
Celebrate Christmas the true Australian way this year and embrace every bit of nature we have on offer around us. A growing trend that I’m seeing this time of year is people wrapping tree lights around beautiful natives such as bottlebrush or gumtrees. For me, one of the most perfect trees to decorate is the wooly bush, Adenanthos. It’s not only on trend but cost effective too.
Reuse and get creative
You can make your very own Christmas wreath using Australian native plants, together with some tinsel and fairy lights. This is a fun activity to do with the kids, and a great way to fall in love with your own backyard again – the end product will not disappoint. Why not get your hands on some recycled timber and wrap it in foliage to make Christmas decorations you can be certain no one else will have.
Ensure your home lighting kits always have a transformer
It’s important that you don’t try to make your own lighting systems and plug your lights directly into the power point. Christmas lights come with a transformer and that transformer lowers the voltage down from 240 to 12 volts – this level is much safer and that’s why you don’t need a license to install them. Anything over 12 volts should always be installed by a licensed electrician.
Don’t use lights around water
While this is an obvious one, it’s a top tip that can be easily forgotten, especially when talking about huge Christmas light displays, that cover the front and back garden. If your Christmas lights accidently touch water, you could cause a short back into the power point and start a fire in your home. It’s a simple but crucial safety check!
Use LED rope lights and not conventional globes
LED lights do not get hot and use much less energy. This allows you to wrap them around dry foliage on Christmas trees and leave them on for longer periods of time without causing a fire. LED’s are technically called a ‘cool light’, as they use far less energy by comparison to traditional globes that can get so hot, they crack. It’s a much cheaper alternative and a whole lot safer too, but always keep an eye on your lights as trees can catch on fire.
Enjoy Christmas dinner with the family
Finally, Christmas is all about spending quality time with your loved ones. It’s a beautiful time of year to remind us that family really does come first. Make the most of the quality time Christmas allows – put your phones away, sit around the table and talk like old times with no distractions.
There is so much pride among the Australian community when it comes to decorating their homes at this time of year, so join me in lighting up your home in a way that is so uniquely Australian - but remember, safety first!
About Jamie Durie:
As a qualified horticulturalist and vast environmental experience, Jamie Durie has been the principal designer behind resorts, hotels, residential developments, restaurants, parklands, and public space in over 30 countries worldwide. He has employed over 145 staff over the past two decades through offices in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne Sydney and Los Angeles. An author of 12 illustrated design books published in multiple languages, Durie has also hosted over 52 Prime time design shows throughout Australia, Asia and the US, airing in over 150 countries.
Allianz Australia delivers a wide range of personal, commercial and corporate insurance products and services to more than 3.5 million policyholders. More than 50 per cent of Australia’s top 200 BRW-listed companies have some form of insurance cover with the group and the group provides workers compensation services to around one-fifth of Australian employees. For more information visit www.allianz.com.au