It’s utter madness this time of year isn’t it? It’s hard to pull the breaks on how far to go with it all. Christmas is a special time of year and without sounding sanctimonious, I don’t want to forget what it’s all about but sometimes I get carried away and the décor of the table wins over everything else. On the other hand there is nothing more precious than sitting around a beautifully decorated table with friends and loved ones and enjoying a festive meal together.
This post is all about how to decorate a table. If you’re the kind of person who just plonks down a placemat, cutlery and a glass, or you get disapproving looks from your mother in law across a barren looking Scrooge style Christmas table, then this post is for you.
When I think about decorating a table, I begin by choosing a colour. Then comes how I want it to ‘feel’, the story if you like and it grows from there. If you're hoping for a more formal effect, keep the colours to 3-4 at the most. This keeps the overall look tight and cohesive.
To start you’ll need a good table cloth. This frames your cutlery and dinnerware like a good haircut frames your face. You could go with any number of colours, but white is a good place to start if this is all new to you. It’s a great canvas for showing off your dinnerware.
Next you might want to look at buying some chargers – plate chargers. These are plastic, melamine or glass plates quite a bit larger than a dinner plate. They come in a variety of different colours, like gold, silver, red and blue and they set off your dinnerware really well. If you want to add a bit of texture to your table, you can use Raffia or rattan place mats instead.
Napkins. Don’t do paper serviettes. Especially at Christmas. If you've gone to all the trouble of laying a beautiful table, don’t go spoiling it with paper serviettes, buy some good napkins in white or a contrasting colour, preferably linen or damask cotton. If you want a formal look, you might want to opt for napkins in the same colour as your tablecloth but if you're looking for a lighthearted fun atmosphere have some napkins made up in several colours, again not more than 3-4 and alternate them on the table settings.
Napkin rings: this is where you can get creative. You can go plain brass or silver, or go festive with holly, berries and tartan, the variety is endless. If you don’t have napkin rings, opt for some beautiful ribbon which you can tie around your cutlery, pop in a sprig of pine and a stick of cinnamon for a spicy and aromatic smell at the table.
Cutlery: chances are your everyday cutlery will have lost its gloss and shine, and it goes without saying that you’ll want some decent looking cutlery to go with your newly decorated table. You can buy gold coloured cutlery from a number of stores, but I found some at Argos for a really good price. Go check it out here and here
Glassware comes in a variety of different designs, gold rimmed, plain and coloured stems. If you’re going for a more eclectic look, you could even bring in some coloured glassware. I like to buy vintage glassware, a favourite place to look is at charity stores.
Crazy crackers can add a quirky element to a more formal table to bring in a little lightness…as long as you incorporate one of the colours you are decorating with so that the overall look is cohesive.
Candlelight: nothing creates a more magical atmosphere than flickering candles. Tall candelabra to mini tealights, there is so much choice. Whatever you have, bring on the candles!
Now you need something for the centre of that table and this can be anything you love, from reindeer to vintage baubles, mini Christmas trees with fairy lights, to vases of informal flowers (remember to keep the arrangement low and horizontal….you don’t want your guests or family members bobbing up and down just to see you across the table!).
Name place cards: if you’re having a large party for Christmas it’s a good idea to seat sociable people next to quieter ones, so the entire table get to engage in conversation instead of just a few in one area.
I like my tables to be a little asymmetrical full of random loveliness. The symmetry I get from the placement of the plates, the cutlery and the glasses…the middle of the table is where I get to have all the fun. Now go decorate that table!
Thank you all for your lovely comments on my last post, I did promise not to post pictures of my daughters, but I sneaked this one in!
Until next time!