Any opportunity and we’re going all out with our tablescaping these days, from fall-inspired tables adorned with squashes from the vegetable patch to al fresco summer spreads dotted with bud vases with fresh flowers. Christmas is absolutely no exception and in some ways is the time of year when you can have most fun with your table decor.
Your dining table really takes center stage on Christmas day, and we’re encouraging you to grasp the season by both hands and go all out with your tablescape. In some ways, your Christmas table decor informs the rest of your design for the whole home, so establishing a theme is key. But there are plenty of looks you can go for.
First thing’s first, decide what kind of wintery look you’re planning on creating. ‘For me, it starts with the gathering inspiration process' says designer Emily Henderson. ‘This decides what direction you are going to go in, what vibe are you after. I always ask myself how I want my Christmas table to feel rather than how I want it to look. Do you want it to be super high energy, festive and fun, or more romantic and calm and sophisticated? That generally leads you in a color palette direction and the kind of decor you want to have.'
So what are this season's Christmas table decor ideas? Given that this time of the year has been a bit off the wall over these last few years, this year, we're going indulgent. 'Christmas is a time to indulge and create a wondrous, warm welcome for family and friends,' adds Stefan Ormenisan, creative director of MINDTHEGAP, who this year have revealed their Alpine-themed Tyrol collection rich with prints, patterns and color. 'A beautiful patterned tablecloth in a traditionally Christmassy color will provide the canvas to artfully arranged napkins and place settings. Together, this creates a tablescape that is festive and also functional.' Read on for our favorite looks of this festive season.
The tablescape experts on this season's Christmas table decor ideas
1. Start with the foundation and build your theme
Building a beautiful and bountiful Christmas spread is first and foremost about getting the foundation right. So first on your Christmas checklist is thinking about who you might be having over during the holiday season and whether you Christmas dining room accommodates.
Go for a bigger and longer table if you can, and don’t worry too much about the material of the table surface, because you will be adorning this with a tablecloth, layering with fabric and covering with decor. ‘Start with the foundation, a crisp white tablecloth is always perfect, and if your table is large enough, adding a table runner will create a create a central zone within which to decorate. Round tables lend themselves well to a large wreath as a Christmas table centerpiece,’ says interior designer, Rachel Usher.
2. Remember those little touches
It’s all in the details, and the best tablescapes will consider everything, right the way down to the smallest touches. This means adding pretty bows to napkins with a place name tied with twine or ribbon and a sprig of rosemary, handfuls of pinecones, and bowls of seasonal fruit.
Think about the cutlery and glassware too. ‘Bringing out the best china and crystal ware is perfect for a Christmas gathering, and depending upon your style and color of your chosen dinnerware this might help you decide upon the color scheme and style that you wish to create,’ says Rachel. Drinking glasses with a glimmer of pop color are popular at the moment. Think handblown glasses with vertical colored stripes.
Finally, Rachel advises adding a swag on the back of chairs, 'a simple large ribbon tied with spruce and eucalyptus mix will make the dinner setting feel elevated'. Consider little party favors too and Christmas table gifts for guests. ‘Little treats wrapped as presents with a name tag, or Christmas tree decorations adorning each plate make the perfect host for place names,’ adds Stefan.
3. Consider your color scheme
When it comes to how to decorate your Christmas table, think about what kind of color scheme you might want for your Christmas table. It’s not always about going for the red, green and gold combination, and actually, you can surprise your guests with avoiding the kitsch look and going for something magical and metallic, or rich with jewel-like tones.
‘We always include a rich blue tableware range in our festive collections,’ says Katie Fairlie of Truffle Tablescapes. ‘Deep navy, white and powder blues are the ideal choice for cooler months and look magical in the evening – a bit like a starry night sky!’
Alternatively, monochrome mixed with metallics is another favorite combination for Christmas time - think sumptuous black, white and gold together for a grown-up festive vibe. Alice Herbert from tablescape company, Lay London also loves opting for rich, warm jewel colors like burgundy, amber and emerald green.
4. Don't forget the festive foliage
Go foraging outside, and take your cues from nature. Bring in beautiful winter fruits, twigs, ivy and try your hand to a spot of Christmas flower arranging to create an abundant verdant display that floods the center of the table.
‘I like to create a long central arrangement of greenery which is arranged along the full length of the table, fresh foraged greens can be loosely tied together with garden twine, my personal favorite is to use spruce, eucalyptus, and white ranunculus,’ says Rachel. ‘To add a touch of Christmas luxury add small potted poinsettias (white is my favorite) along the table scattered with pomegranates and pears, mixed with similar-sized baubles in your chosen color. If space is limited clip poinsettia blooms and place them into miniature stem vases.’
‘On our Christmas tables this year, we are opting for dahlias in rich ruby red and plum tones, paired with white ranunculi and delicate sprays of bouvardia,’ says Alice.
Remember to take a seat and test out what each guest will be able to see, make sure the greenery stays low to help bring everyone into the table so guests can easily talk and celebrate together.
5. Embrace the busy look
This year, we're embracing the decor and going all out for busy but beautiful Christmas dining room decor. Filling your table with decor may not feel natural if you're used to the minimalist look, but hammers home the point that Christmas is a time all about extravagance, opulence, and not doing anything half-heartedly. ‘We think a table looks best when the tablescaper is generous with their décor,’ says Katie. ‘Your table will look best when busy and filled to the brim with festive accessories in seasonal colors.’
Made from full coloured glass, each piece of this set features a floral-pattern texturised pattern.
6. Adorn your table with candles of varying heights
When it comes to creating that lovely cozy ambiance that's crucial to a Christmas table, it's all about the lighting. Candles (in all shapes and sizes), fairy lights, side lamps, all of this low-level lighting is what's going to give that all-over glow to the whole room.
Candles are also great way to add height to the christmas table (along with those bottles of wine that will later feature), and candelabras with tapered candles add to the sense of whimsical traditionality and are an elegant way of adding height and drama to a tablescape.
Having a flickering of candles on the table is a simple and effective way to add a sense of occasion to the moment whilst creating a warming, cosy atmosphere. ‘Candles or small glowing lanterns on the table will work well. We often use our marble-effect colored tall dinner candles in varying heights on the table to add a party mood. A color-combo of candles can look sumptuous, and liven up a more simple setting,’ says Alice.
There are myriad other ways to elevate your festive decor above the tablescape. Using glass cake stands and cloches are a great way to add height and give lots of opportunities to create a display, a cake stand is also a great way to arrange candles or keep sweet Christmassy teats on view.
Two tapered candles with a six-hour burn time that will last the whole of your Christmas dinner. Available in a selection of wintry colors that will make your Christmas table pop.
7. Go for a bold quirky color scheme
How fun and fabulously festive is this set-up? Red and green might dominate the festive period, but really any color goes at Christmas and as this table proves opting for a rainbow of hues can be far more stylish than it may sound. Be inspired by this tablescape and make quirky candleholders and equally quirky candles your centerpiece.
Choose a mix of shapes and shades, that almost match but don't quite so the overall look appears cohesive but delve more and there's plenty of unusual surprising. Include a nod to the traditional but interspersing jars of evergreen and juicy red berries.
8. Suspend decorations from the ceiling
Hanging decorations from the ceiling above your Christmas table has such a magical effect, and yet it's so easy to achieve and works with so many different decorating you can adapt the look to suit your style.
'If you are able to put small brass hooks in your ceiling or a beam above your dining table, a suspended horizontal branch makes a striking focal point. Hang decorations of a similar theme in varying heights using narrow ribbon or twine.' recommends interior stylist Hannah Risbridger and founder of From the Old Post House.
'I always do this with the ceramic snowflakes from our Winter 19 Box. This year, I plan to use the palette of our Jewel Luxe collection with opulent merlot, gold and emerald tones. Adorn your tabletop in foliage and candlelight. Use varied heights of candlesticks with rich, dark dinner candles as well as low cut-glass tealight holders, and then weave foliage throughout for the length of the table. For place settings, loosely roll neutral linen napkins tied with a rich, dark velvet ribbon. Finish by attaching a luggage label displaying your guest's name written with a gold calligraphy pen.'
9. Add texture
Remember your table linens, tablecloth, napkins and runner for the ultimate layered effect. 'We think table linen is one of the easiest ways to make an impact with your tablescape. In particular, a statement tablecloth (we love Indian block print cotton) or quality, colored napkins tied with velvet bows are sure to impress guests and take very little time to set up,' says Katie.
Think about the material as well. Textures such as luxurious velvet and opulent embroidery also add to the festive feel, while linen adds a touch of sophistication to the spread.
10. Choose a frosty all white Christmas table
If you are after a more contemporary look with your Christmas table decor this year, there are plenty of ideas to pinch from this frosty look. Firstly, no table cloth?! For so many styles a table cloth is a must have, but we are actually loving this clean, more contemporary approach. It's a look that would suit a fuss-free style, perfect if you are hosting on Christmas Eve or have some festive drinks and nibbles planned with friends, the lack of table cloth just makes it... cooler.
And having such a neutral base means you can go louder with the table decor, and mix and match unexpected patterns – like the floral butter dish and stripped decanter used here. It's all a bit mad and yet looks so chic. Oh, and decorations on the back of the chair is an idea we will for sure be stealing this year.
11. Take it outside
When it comes to outdoor Christmas decorating ideas, perhaps an alfresco dining space isn't top of your agenda, but we spent so much of last Christmas and winter drinking and dining outdoors and this year it seems to be an actual trend to set up your Christmas table outside. And we think it's such a lovely idea to spend a cold crisp afternoon wrapped up in a blanket sipping mulled wine and eating suitably festive nibbles (ie. a very crowded cheese board).
So give your garden furniture a festive spruce and add plenty of cushions, throws and candles and string up fairy lights in any nearby greenery to create a festive grotto in your backyard.
How do you make a Christmas centerpiece
When it comes to making a Christmas centerpiece, it's all about height. There will be so much placed on your table, including food, candles, and decor, that you will really need to elevate the centerpiece so it gets noticed. A simple centerpiece idea is to get one large candelabra that holds one single, chunkier candle at a height, with foliage wrapped around. This will nicely draw the eye to the center.
Alternatively, think about how you can use your light fixture. If you are sitting below a pendant light, consider dangling baubles from the fixture or also wrapping the lighting in foliage. If you have the time, wrap up a couple of boxes in wrapping paper and stack them on top of each other to bring the height to the center of the table.
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Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.
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