How to create a quintessentially British table setting, according to a tablescaping pro

With the UK set to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee with street parties, a tablescape designer explains how to capture the spirit of the occasion, wherever you are in the world

A Jubilee-styled table
(Image credit: LAY London)

This weekend in the UK marks the Queen's Jubilee. Offices and workplaces are being closed for a double bank holiday bonanza to celebrate the Queen becoming the first British Monarch to reach 70 years of service.

To celebrate this anniversary, events have been slowly ramping up the excitement throughout the year and across the UK. The celebrations culminate this weekend, in a four-day holiday. 

As the weekend edges steadily closer, all the last-minute party prep is well underway. Flags are strung through the streets, cakes worthy of The Great British Baking Show stardom are being lovingly iced, and the final flourishes for that oh-so British tradition, the street party, are being seen to. 

Tying it all together at the center of the celebrations is the table that runs the length of the street, bringing people of all backgrounds and generations to the streets for the occasion around outdoor furniture. As tablescaping has become more and more of a trend in the UK, this year's offering of picture-perfect tables are expected to be second-to-none.

Livingetc speaks to Alice Herbert, co-founder of tablescaping company LAY London, on how to channel the heart of a Great British street party for outdoor entertaining. 

How to create a tablescape worthy of a Jubilee table

"A Jubilee table setting should above all feel like a celebration."

Alice Herbert, Lay London

Embrace a kitsch color scheme 

Guards are embroidered onto a table napkin

(Image credit: LAY London)

Tablescapes for the Jubilee are all about flying the flag, so go all out and embrace bright red, crisp white and royal blue. ' 'The Platinum Jubilee has given rise to a revival of patriotic red, white and blue color schemes,' explains Sarah Spiteri, Livingetc's editorial director. 'Down to the last flag of bunting, it's totally kitsch, but you can make it cool by being wonderfully over the top.'

'When planning a jubilee table setting, it should above all feel like a celebration: colorful, joyful and bright,' agrees Alice Herbert, co-founder of tablescaping company, LAY London (opens in new tab).

'Go for a nostalgic, village fête look with a striped or gingham tablecloth - pair with a scattering of bowls filled with strawberries for a British summertime feel.' You can also adopt some other color trends into your Jubilee look. 'Mix up the classic red, white and blue color scheme with a pale pink or violet to soften the palette,' Alice adds. 

Alternatively, go pared-back and simple with a more refined and elegant scheme. 'Keep it more elevated by going for an all-white scheme.' says Sarah.

Remember the smaller details

Long red, white and blue candlesticks

(Image credit: Truffle Tablescapes)

Jubilee decor is bold and out-there, but don't forget to pay attention to finer details that will add an element of fun and surprise that your guests will love. 'Finish with fun, thematic touches napkins tied with velvet ribbon and red-white-blue dinner candles along the table for a banquet look,' advises Alice. 

Go for long candles to add differing heights to your dining table idea, as well as tiered cake stands, and keep things personalized too, with handwritten place cards with painted motifs.

You can't rely on the weather being glorious in the UK either, so remember those soft furnishings like blankets and pillows to keep you cozy. 'Add hot water bottles on each chair, smartened up with name tags on the ribbon, and you can find pretty cotton covers too,' says Alice.

Bring flowers to the table

Flowers on a Jubilee-inspired table

(Image credit: LAY London)

Fresh flowers are one sure-fire way for your table décor to really up its game. 'There's no doubt about it, fresh flowers bring any table setting to life,' says Alice.

'If the weather rains off your al fresco dining plans, then double down on flowers inside to give the table a bright, garden-y feel. We think small bud vases along the table are often more effective than a couple of large centerpieces, adding a feeling of fullness to the table. For a summery feel, small potted orange trees or strawberry plants are great for vivid color and a fruity scent.'

What is tablescaping?

Tablescaping is a major trend in entertaining, both outdoors and in, and hosting at home has well and truly ramped up a notch with tables laden with flowers, candles, place names, delicately folded napkins and that all-important tablecloth. 

'Elaborate table decor is becoming the norm in style-first households,' says Sarah Spiteri, editorial director at Livingetc. Hosting and entertaining is no longer just about putting on a fabulous feast and this Jubilee is a great excuse to try it for yourself. 

A pared back tablescape

(Image credit: Sophie Allport)

What is a street party?

The street party is a great British tradition, starting at the beginning of the 20th century when streets held 'Peace Teas' to mark the end of the First World War. These teas signified a sense of optimism, and as the 20th century continued, the street party became more and more commonplace, with residents closing off streets for national events including VE day, the Queen's Coronation, the Silver and Golden Jubilees and the Millennium.

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com. 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.