Fiona Leahy's Christmas table with Soho Home

A former fashion stylist, Irish-born Fiona Leahy has spent the last 14 years travelling the world stagingseriouslydecadent events – from a party in the Doha desert for Damien Hirst, to a week-long influencer event in Mexico for Aerin Lauder.

For Christmas 2019, the Founder and Creative Director of her eponymous event design agency, Fiona Leahy Design, has created a festive tablescape with Soho Homeand gives us the low-down on her seasonal must-haves for a well-dressed table.

Before you begin

Be prepared. I do think having a wardrobe for your table might sound like a funny thing, but just like we have a wardrobe for outfits, having a cupboard with my candlesticks and my bud vases means I can run out and just get some flowers.

I stockpile different colours, I’m always prepared. I have a set of 8 or 12 linens, napkins, tablecloths, I kind of just buy things and have them on standby, it takes a lot of the stress out of it.

Setting the scene

Like a landscape, a tablescape undulates. It has to go up slightly and down slightly, it’s about the eye travelling. There is a symmetry – we would always put candles a certain distance apart and groups of three really work in different heights for flowers, candles and with glasses too.

You don’t ever want to obstruct somebody’s vision, especially for something like Christmas entertaining. You want it to be convivial, you want to be able to talk, you don’t want the decorations to take over, that’s a real pet hate – no-one wants to be talking to flowers!

You need to be able to see people’s eyes, while lit beautifully by candlelight which I think is the most flattering light.

Fiona's five Essentials for a well-dressed table

1. Definitely candles – on this table there’s the Soho Home taller candles and then we have lower tea lights.

2. Flowers – I love flowers.

3. You’ll always see an element of personalisation on my table.If there’s crackers I can scribble people’s names on them or fill snow globes with names.Or we’ve done the trinket jars and we’ve added ribbons with initials, which I love.

4. And colour – I love colour.

5. Another of the elements of all of my tables is fun – you can have a good time, you can pull a cracker, you get your trinket jar, play pass the parcel, all of those things.

Tableware available at Soho Home.

Find timeless Christmas decorating ideas from Turner Pocock here.

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.