A Christmas feast needs a beautifully decorated table. Gabrielle Fagan serves up three top festive serving styles.
In the festive flurry of decking the halls and choosing the presents, it's easy to neglect a key focal point — the dining table. Gathering for the Christmas feast is one of the highlights of the celebration, and a well-decorated table will make the meal even more memorable.
“A Christmas table should be so inviting and stylish that no one will want to leave it,” says Susie Watson, founder of Susie Watson Designs, hand-made home accessories specialists.
“Linen for a cloth and napkins really dresses a table and adds character to a setting, while candles are essential for soft, twinkling light.
“If you prefer informality, choose an arrangement of seasonal cut flowers in a large jug and opt for hand-painted ceramics. For details, add jewel-coloured baubles or small gifts at each place setting.”
Ensure the table's centrepiece isn't too dominating, or too high that it interferes with the eyeline of guests, Watson advises, as that can discourage conversation.
“A vase filled with glass baubles and twisted hazel twigs is a lovely way to conjure a rustic, country feel, and festive foods such as walnuts, oranges and berries could be arranged in small bowls around it,” Watson suggests.
Three experts reveal their favourite festive looks ...
REVEL IN RED
Red adds warmth and richness to a table setting and, as a traditional seasonal colour, can also evoke pleasing memories of past celebrations.
Wendy Miranda at Lakeland says: “Red can't fail to have impact and works beautifully if it's combined with a nature theme, using berries and greenery from the garden or artificial garlands, and this year you can enhance it by picking up on the trend for featuring woodland creatures.”
TABLE TIP Create fashionable Scandi style with a simple red-and-white theme. Tie red ribbon and a red bauble around each napkin, and use the ribbon and a name label to decorate each chair. Conjure more formal grandeur by combining red with glittering gold accessories.
GET THE LOOK Lakeland's inspiring tableware collection could sort out dining dilemmas. Red linen-look tablecloth, £34.99, and an LED-lit winter berry garland, £18.99.
Place settings always appeal. B&Q has red glitter reindeer, £5 for a set of two, which would make ideal name-card holders. Make a focal point of a red Santa On Sleigh candle-holder, £14.99, which has space for four tea lights, from The Contemporary Home.
Heal's charming accessories include a Quail Robin salt and pepper set, £22, a toadstool-style Dotted Mushroom votive for a single tea light, £7, and carved wooden animal napkin rings, £12 each, which include adorable bunny and owl designs.
SILVER & WHITE
Silver and white is a classic combination that works in contemporary or traditional settings.
“It's such fun to push the boat out when you're decorating the table and give it some glitter, sparkle and pzazz, which puts people in the mood for fun,” says Clare Harris, founder of Talking Tables, specialists in party and table accessories.
“Silver and white's a glamorous, sophisticated choice, and can be created easily with a white cloth and napkins, sparkly table gems, miniature silver crackers, and a table feature such as a collection of silver baubles in a clear glass bowl, or a group of silver candlesticks.”
TIP Serve individual desserts and pop a mini sparkler in each before bringing to the table as a fun final touch, Harris suggests. And make place cards using a silver glitter pen and white card.
GET THE LOOK Talking Tables silver accessories include eight Silver Saucer crackers, £6, and silver paper napkins, £3.50 for a pack of 20.
Indulge in House of Fraser's Casa Couture range with its silver-style tableware, which includes beaten metal bowls, jugs and serving spoons, £16-£30. On a budget? Update your china with Ikea's affordable Skack white and silver/grey range, which includes serving bowls, £6 each.
Antiqued Bud place card holders, £22 for a set of six, and beaded place mats, £25 for a set of two, The White Company, could set the scene.
Santa would surely approve of a reindeer centrepiece, and a reindeer tea light holder, £79, Marks & Spencer, which holds six tea lights is simply stunning. Alternatively, add a rustic touch with John's Lewis's frosted rattan heart-shaped decoration, £3.50. Wing it with Sainsbury's tiny silver birds, £2.50 each.
ALL THAT GLITTERS
Gold combines grandeur and glamour and has timeless appeal for a celebration table. Layer gold touches — for instance, a gold charger plate, napkin and gold bauble on each place setting — to show them off to maximum effect.
“Place a few key decorations, perhaps gold baubles or metallic gold-sprayed fruit that match your colour scheme, along the length of a table runner to immediately create a festive effect and impact,” says Kerry Nicholls, tabletop buyer for John Lewis.
“Start with a tall centrepiece, either candlesticks or a flower arrangement, and work outwards in descending height. Match place mats and napkins to your runner to keep the theme consistent.”
TIP Tiny touches personalise a table. Put a small gold-sprayed box holding a gold-wrapped sweet or a bauble beside each place setting as a table treat for your guests.
GET THE LOOK Make a statement with a gold Metal Leaf Tree table centrepiece, £89 and a gold-coloured 24-Piece Twisted Cutlery Set £26, Oka.
Gold lacquered charger plate, £5, and Linea's Decadence gold floral crackers, £25 for a box of 10, House of Fraser.
Homebase has a wealth of gilded touches: a gold Holly leaf lights garland, currently half price at £5.99, gold snowflake decorations, £4.99 for a pack of 24, and a Flowers bauble, in shiny silver with gold glitter, £2.49.
Gold ‘Lace' print wine glasses, £9 each, and a cluster of gold ceramic star votive candles, £4 each, both from the Star by Julien Macdonald range at Debenhams, would make subtle golden table touches.