The tree is twinkling in the corner, the wreath is on the door and Christmas music is streaming from the speakers. The ‘season to be jolly’ has well and truly arrived and all that remains is to get the table ready for serving turkey with all the trimmings to your gathering of family and friends.
Your table setting needs to be as on point as the menu to ensure your Christmas dinner is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Place cards, festive decorations and stunning centrepieces all help set the scene for an unforgettable Christmas table.
Choose a theme for your Christmas table setting
One of the most fun things is choosing the theme for your table setting. Pinterest offers a virtually endless source of inspiration and ideas to get the creative juices flowing. From festive red, white and green to minimalist Scandi-style or opulent gold or silver, the world is your oyster when it comes to picking your theme.
If you want to steer clear of traditional themes, light wintery blue looks luxurious and eye-catching, especially when paired with silver and white. Whatever theme you choose, aim for an elegant, sophisticated and inviting table setting that will wow your guests.
Do I need a centrepiece?
From candles to bowls of baubles or floral arrangements, a striking centrepiece will help ensure that your Christmas dinner table is dressed to impress.
Centrepieces need careful thought to make sure they fit in with your theme and do not overpower the other decorations. Too big or tall and they may hinder your guests from making conversation across the table and make it difficult to pass dishes or hold toasts.
If your guests bring you flowers that do not fit in with your chosen theme, you can place them on a side table so they can still be admired throughout the meal.
Get your place settings right
First you need to determine how many guests you are receiving and ensure that you leave an even amount of space between places. The plate for the main course goes at the centre of the setting and utensils are placed in the order of use; from the outside in. Forks go to the left of the plate and knives and spoons go to the right.
If you are using side plates, these are also placed on the left with a napkin folded on top. Other plates are generally brought in with each course although some people prefer a ‘layered’ setting with the starter plate and soup bowl stacked on to of the main plate.
Finally, place a water and wine glass to the right of the place setting just above the knives and spoons. For a really festive look, you could tie a bow around the setting so that when your guests sit down they feel like they are opening up a present.
Give yourself plenty of time
Don’t leave laying the table until the last minute. If at all possible, set it all up the night before Christmas so you have time to check that glasses are sparkling clean and hunt down any missing plates or cutlery. This also means that you are prepared if guests should turn up early the following day.
It is all in the detail
Tree decorations aren’t just for the tree, they can be a great addition to your Christmas table setting as well. A collection of baubles looks stunning displayed in a glass vase or bowl and can act as an effective centrepiece. Even a few baubles scattered on your table among your serving dishes will help create a festive focal point.
A handwritten name tag is also a lovely touch, especially if you have beautiful handwriting. If you are a whizz at origami by all means get creative with your napkins but if not, simply fold them neatly or place in a napkin ring to the left of the forks.
Bringing in elements of the outdoors with the addition of decorative branches, dried flowers, pinecones and acorns will add a beautiful rustic feel. Faux berries are also a magical addition to any Christmas dinner table
Something to take home
Christmas is the season for giving and receiving gifts so it is a nice touch to present your guests with a table gift, like a sweet treat or a decoration for them to take home and add to their own tree.
After all the goodbyes have been said, you can relax safe in the knowledge that you have created a magical festive experience for your nearest and dearest.
Event planner and party designer Fabiane Calvo shares her tips on creating a stunning table setting for the festive season
What takes a table setting from nice to stunning?
Symmetry, definitely. All items on the table have to the same space between them and the other items on the table. Symmetry causes a fantastic visual effect, regardless of how simple the table is. The more symmetric, the more impactful the table setting will be.
What are the most important elements of a Christmas table setting?
A centrepiece! But not only for Christmas, in any table setting, the centrepiece is key.
Are there any definite no-no’s?
I can’t think of any specific “no-no” but beware of gold. It is a very frequently used colour that has become a touch cliché for Christmas. When all items have a golden hue, it might look very heavy-handed.
Do you always choose a theme for your table settings?
Not always. Often I use no centrepieces and instead have just flowers and neutral decorative items. Always a specific style but not necessarily a theme.
What’s your signature style (if you have one) for table settings?
Simple and elegant. My signature is the beauty of simplicity.
What are you planning for your Christmas table setting this year?
I will use a lot of candlesticks of different heights to create a lovely sense of movement. Silver will be the foundation and for place cards I will use Christmas baubles and a Christmassy napkin holder.