Give your home Easter treats
WE all want to have a cracking good time at Easter, and it's a lovely opportunity to decorate the home and let the children lend a helping hand.
Whether you want to roll out the rabbit bunting, hang hand-decorated eggs on an Easter tree or simply fill vases with bunches of spring flowers, all those personal touches will make family gatherings and parties even more special and add to the sense of occasion.
''It's now fashionable to decorate your home for Easter the same as you would at Christmas, with many people looking for ways to make the four-day weekend a special event for friends and family,'' says Katherine Mitchell, junior gift buyer at John Lewis.
''If you're entertaining this Easter, decorate your table with fresh pastel colours and have as a centrepiece a small Easter tree or a glass bowl filled with pretty decorated eggs.
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''Add to the atmosphere with chick and bunny decorations which can form part of the clues for an Easter egg trail.''
Informality and fun are at the heart of the celebration, and a blend of nature and delicate decorations works best, says Sylvia Oakley, stylist for Villeroy & Boch china specialists.
''I like to take long, fresh blossom branches and display them in an oversized glass vase.
''Fill the base of the vase with painted eggs in soft spring tones — either bought on the high street or do them yourself. ''Alternatively, hang an egg off each branch,'' she suggests.
In terms of colour, she advises keying into a spring palette — yolky yellow, grass green, tulip orange and piglet pink.
''I use a strip of astro turf down the centre of my table and Astroturf squares as placemats. Then I accessorise with small baskets filled with daffodil heads,'' she says.
''If you like to use a napkin ring, pop a fresh daffodil or tulip in to add a splash of colour to a plain white napkin.''
She likes to involve guests in the party by having an egg hunt for adults and children, with the first clues written on luggage labels and hung on the back of each chair.
Choose from this basket of Easter decor treats to make your home ready for the holiday.
What comes first — the chicken or the egg? Definitely the hen, so conjure a delightful country style with Rare Breeds wallpaper, £49 a roll, from Wallpaper Direct (www.wallpaperdirect.co.uk) depicting different varieties of hen.
Alternatively, a French Hens fabric, £19.90 per metre, from the Flowers & Chickens range by Annie Sloan (www.anniesloan.com) with chickens, roosters, eggs and feathers on a linen-look background would be appropriate.
An Easter tree hung with decorated eggs is an essential these days. White wicker tree, £15, from John Lewis (0845 604 9049/www.johnlewis.com).
Hobbycraft (www.hobbycraft.co.uk) also has an Easter tree, £19.99, and the company has free step-by-step project sheets on decorating eggs and Easter decorations.
No time for craft sessions? Take a short cut with patchwork hanging egg decorations, £2.99 each, The Contemporary Home (0239 246 9400/www.tch.net).
Wreaths aren't just for Christmas! A rustic egg Easter wreath, £14.99, The Contemporary Home (0239 246 9400/www.tch.net) in willow with soft feathers and authentic-looking eggs, could be a welcoming touch on a door or a table centrepiece.
Make the occasion more special with new china which will be a reminder of happy times long after the holiday's over. The Farmers Spring collection, Villeroy & Boch (020 8875 6060/www.villeroy-boch.co.uk) features roosters, hens and rabbits and a green-trimmed border. Salad plate, £22.95, and tea cup and saucer, £25.95.
Breakfast will be a treat with egg cups to delight children and adults alike. Grey Rabbit egg cup, £10.95, from a selection at Liberty (020 7734 1234/www.liberty.co.uk) which include a guinea pig, dog, cats, birds and a tiger.
Follow a bunny theme with a pair of wooden bunny ornaments, £19.99, The Contemporary Home (0239 246 9400/www.tch.net).
Villeroy & Boch has painted Easter china accessories, a vase and egg-shaped trinket container, adorned with a sweet bunny. The range starts from £11.95, John Lewis (0845 604 9049/www.johnlewis.com).
Enhance any sofa by adding a rabbit print cushion, £40, from Graduate Collection (0845 872 4919/ www.graduatecollection.co.uk).
Fluffy chickens are an iconic symbol of the season. Accessorise with pieces featuring clucking good designs. Chickens teapot, priced £25 from Marks & Spencer (phone 0845 302 1234/www.marksandspencer.com).
Add a ''cheep'' but cute touch with a set of Easter chick plates, £5 for six, in stores, Asda (www.asda.com).
Egg-shaped candles with a pale yolk-coloured inside are perfect for an Easter table. Hen Eggs, set of 6, £7.95; Duck Eggs, pair, £7.50; and Goose Eggs, pair, £12.95, from Nordic House (0845 475 1610/www.nordichouse.co.uk).
Send a message that hens (especially mother hens) rule the roost, and accessorise with Hanging Hen decorations, £2.50 each, John Lewis (0845 604 9049/www.johnlewis.com).
If you're working and it's the school holidays, there may be little time to slave over decorations. Create instant impact with Easter table accessories from Talking Tables (020 7627 6767/ www.talkingtables.co.uk). Its Spring Time collection in daffodil yellow and soft pink, starts from £3.50. Range includes bunny bunting £4.80 and cake stand, £7.
Serve Easter Sunday roast in a vibrant red oven-to-tableware red hen. Temptations polka dot ceramic roaster, £23, from QVC (www.qvcuk.com).
A sign simply saying ''Easter'' in colourful letters could be a lovely touch on any mantelpiece or even used as a table centrepiece.
You can find an Easter ornament priced at £2, in stores at Asda (www.asda.com).