10 super stylish decoration ideas for Christmas table settings
Christmas is a wonderful time to unleash your decoration ideas and I love the way the house takes on a whole new look for a few weeks. Now usually when I throw parties I’m super relaxed, I never think of fancy table dressing ideas. It’s a terrible confession for an Interior Stylist to make, but seriously, life is too short! I simply stuff my collection of gorgeous bowls with tantalising food and let everyone just tuck in. But Christmas is different. It’s time for tradition, nostalgia, and things being, well, done properly. It’s also time to add a little sparkle and dressing up the table is all part of the festivities. Yet at the same time I won’t be up until midnight whittling, stitching and crafting. So here are way sure fire ways to make your Christmas table look smoking without burning yourself out.
I like to begin with plain white basics. Invest in simple plain china and table linen and that way you can ring the changes year on year with the accessories. I think it’s a wonderful idea to starch the napkins and tablecloth, for that crisp sense of formal occasion and it takes no time to do (trust me, I’m not someone who loves ironing!).
Next add a collection of glass, metal, and mirror to make the table dazzle. Glassware and cutlery do the job perfectly but also add cut glass or metal candlesticks and vases.
Styling by Sophie Robinson. Photography by David Brittain. Housetohome.co.uk
To really make it sparkle pile on the twinkling light. Candles, and tea lights do the job well and the more the merrier as they reflect off the glass and metals with amazing effect. A good trick is to intertwine battery-powered fairy lights into the foliage or twist around the candlesticks, hiding the wires as you go. Finally turn the overhead lighting off or down low.
For interest you need lots of differing heights across the table but nothing that stops you seeing the person opposite you. Candles are good as they’re narrow and tea lights because they’re low but any central floral table piece should be low enough for guests, when seated, to look over.
I love to utilise natural foliage and drip it down the length of the table. You can collect sprigs on country walks, from your garden, or failing that florists are brimming with the stuff this time of year. I love it, as it’s not only affordable but a real reminder of the season. Too much plastic and tinsel is never a good thing although you can add baubles, glitter covered pinecones or spray hydrangea heads with metallic spray to add some sparkle. One trick I love to use is to dip rose heads in glitter. Simply water down some PVA glue and then gently dip the very edge of the petals into the mixture. Then carefully dip the head in a plate of glitter and shake off the excess. For a sophisticated look, match the glitter to the petal colour. Place a single stem on each place setting or pack them together for one central display.
You need to think of your colour story. Now you could stay natural and just use foliage and metallics with the white. But it’s very easy to add a colour to pull the whole thing together. Green is an obvious choice and very festive but don’t just go for the obvious dark green, a bright apple green or sultry olive can look more contemporary. Red is the number one most obvious choice as it just screams Christmas. If you go with this add holly berries or cranberries with red roses to your table. For a modern twist I like to mix it with fuchsia pink. One word of caution would be to avoid blue. There is no blue food and as a result the colour blue isn’t conducive to the appetite- indeed it suppresses it. So if you want your guests to relish the meal, think about decorating your table in the colours of food; reds, greens and gold work particularly well. You want to carry your accent colour throughout the table, so use candles, ribbons, napkin ties, crackers, and glassware to help to make the tablescape look unified.
I think its fun to think of quirky place setting ideas and I think fresh pears can look stunning as a table decoration. Over the years I’ve used them in their natural state, spray-painted them matt white or this time gilded then in silver. It’s very easy to do. You need to buy Silver (or gold or copper) leaf from a craft shop, as well as gilding paste. Hobby craft do both. Paint the size onto a fresh pear and leave to dry tacky for 15 minutes. You need to time this bit, too early and the glue is too wet, too long and it’s not tacky enough. I used mirror leaves for this project rather than silver leaf. It’s easier to use, you simply press it onto the pear and rub it until the silver transfers. You get a patchy effect, but you can keep rubbing and adding until you get the desired effect. Silver leaf works too but you get a more matt finish. You simply brush the leaf on and then brush away the excess. Store the pears in a cool place until they are needed on Christmas day. I like to cut out a leaf shape from paper, punch a hole in and then write the names of my guests so I can use it as a place setting. Other wise you can dot them round the table or pop them on a cake stand as a decorative display. (Note that painting and gilding them makes them inedible.)
Little gift boxes make another cute display idea. Buy a pack of ready-made craft boxes, I bought mine from hobbycraft. They are a great way to add pattern and colour .You can wrap them in a paper that ties in with your theme then embellish them with ribbon, natural foliage, flowers, whatever. Pop treats like chocolates, dried candy or kids toys inside. Again these could be used as a place setting if you add a swing tag with the name on.
Image and styling by Sophie Robinson.
Now crackers are an essential item to any Christmas list. I love the look of the luxury designer ones but I’m not so keen on the price tag. But you can quickly and easily update your supermarket crackers. Simply cut a band of coloured paper to make a strap around the middle, a short length of special ribbon tied in a bow and a swing tag with a name or festive message is all it takes to make your crackers snap with style. You can really unleash your creativity with this one. A hot glue gun is a great investment, then you can embellish your crackers with baubles or pom poms or pinecones. Alternatively buy a cracker kit and make your own. This way they are ultimately bespoke, you can choose your own gifts and decorate them to suit your theme and personalise them with a place name. Fitting in with the woodland theme I found these gorgeous Bo Ho and Co placemats from Amara.
Now a word on Napkins. The most chicest way is to simply fold them into an oblong. Resist making them into birds of paradise that take flight out of the top of a wine glass. For a nice twist simply tied your bundle of cutlery on top- decorated with a ribbon or a spring of rosemary. The cutlery in this shot is Mitre from Georg Jenson.
Most of these shots were snapped at a Christmas event at The Royal Exchange in London, where I was asked to host a table dressing masterclass. Its such an iconic building with the most droolworthy luxury boutiques. Here’s me propping up the bar and getting into the festive spirit with gift wrapping extraordinaire Jane Means. I love events like this as I get to meet people face to face and talk about styling ideas and inspirations. The guilded pears were the most popular idea by far, as they look so effective, and my most asked question on the night was how to polish wine glasses to get the smudges off. Tip is to hold shortly over a steaming kettle or pan of water then polish with a linen tea towel. If you’ve got any questions about styling your table this Christmas- whack it down in the comments box below and I’ll get right back to you.