We’re creatures of habit and every Christmas we haul our dusty decs from the loft, which hold countless memories of Christmases gone by, and set about decorating the house almost on auto pilot. Laying the Christmas table is not much different. The thought of decorating it any other way than the way we’ve done it in past 10 years seems like an extra job that could well send us over the edge. But actually with a bit of thought and creativity you can switch things up and create a stunning festive style without breaking the bank.
6 Steps to beautiful Christmas table decor
Choose a theme or colour scheme that reflects your home or is complimentary to your existing decor. The festive colour palettes are endless from traditional reds and golds, winter wonderland white, frosty blue and silver, monochrome (with neon for a bold twist), dusty pinks, rich berry purple or deep foliage green. A good place to start might be your existing decoration loot – a sparkly bauble, a silver reindeer or some delicate night light holders might be all you need to get started. Tempting though it might be keep to two to three complimentary colours for a seamless theme.
2. Linens & tableware
Now that you’ve chosen your colour theme you’ll need to add texture and layering to bring it to life. Choosing the right table linen is key. It may be the time to relinquish the decades old jolly red Santa tablecloth you bought in Woolworths, as it likely to detract rather than add to your chosen theme. Instead choose crisp white or neutral table linen to add a classic base to your Christmas table. Alternatively you may want a pared back look and so a table runner or textured table mats might be a better alternative. For a quick DIY table runner just fold a tablecloth lengthways until you have the desired width (iron these folds) and lay lengthways down the table.
Though colourful and pretty paper napkins may be, we don’t advice them for the Christmas table. Choose linen or cotton napkins to add a touch of classic elegance. Now is the time to get out your best crystal glassware and charger plates (decorative plates that sit under your dinner plates) although there is a lot to be said for paired back plain white tableware so work with what you have. A sprig of holly, bauble or flower stem on each plate is all you need to festive it up.
3. Decorations & Centrepiece
Inject some theatre to your Christmas table with a stunning centrepiece. Fill a hurricane lamp with candles and snow sprayed pine cones, make up a long garland of holly and berries, create a wreath chandelier to hang over your table or on the wall, spray paint some branches and hang delicate decorations and arrange in a large vase. The choices are literally endless. So whether you opt for marshmallow ‘snow drops’ scattered along the table (no chance they’d last the day in our house) or just fill a bowl with baubles and fairy lights just make sure not to over do it. Simplicity is key because don’t forget you will have tableware, wine glasses, bowls and jugs all competing with table space.
Speaking of space, when choosing a vase or candle as your centrepiece, opt for the narrowest base you can find so as to maximise table space. Also be mindful of decoration height – it’s not ideal if you can’t see Auntie Ida on the other side of the table (or come to think of it maybe that’s not such a bad idea…)
Create the right ambience with candles, chandeliers or night lights. Either cluster a number of candles together at either ends of table or intersperse night lights amongst some greenery or bloom garlands. If space is limited opt for a string of fairy lights and wind them through the centre of the table (hiding the battery box amongst some centrepiece foliage though!).
5. Those Extra Touches
It’s always nice to put some time into place name settings. Use luggage tags or tie a couple of candy canes together with ribbon and sit the name place on top. Find some mini boxes of charades or table games and place on the table to entertain your guests while the turkey is resting. And if you are feeling generous wrap a gift for all your guests (it could be a bauble keepsake or a mini game) and string their name onto it.
For that extra festive touch tie a festive ribbon or bauble to the back of your dining room chairs. And don’t forget the crackers!
So you have your theme sorted but don’t fall at the last hurdle by not being prepared. Ensure all your table linen, cutlery, glassware and serving dishes are washed a week or so before and are on hand. Find that elusive gravy jug, the silver napkin rings or your favourite cranberry sauce serving bowl before Christmas morning. Put fresh flowers on your last minute grocery list so you don’t forget them. In fact the best advice we could give you is to have your table laid and sparkling on Christmas Eve evening. Enlist your children to help with name place settings and flower arranging. Then put your feet up, open the Christmas Eve box, pour yourself a Baileys on ice in the knowledge that one big job is off the list!