Christmas seems to come around so fast, we just have put away the decorations and now we’re taking them out again. It gives you a chance to be creative, using your decorating skills and to have fun. You will spend most of your time around the dining table at Christmas eating and entertaining, so dress it up to make it special before you start, don’t forget the small things e.g. washing and ironing the table cloth, if necessary. Check that you have enough chairs and if not, borrow or invest in folding ones that can be stored away for future occasions. Also check that you have enough crockery, cutlery and glassware to lay each plate setting. Make sure each guest has sufficient space in front and either side of them at the table.
If you are bored with your plain table cloth and your Christmas table doesn’t look very exciting, you don’t need to spend a fortune on replacing the lot. Instead use colours and themes to create a festive feeling and also to bring the decor scheme together. A good white table cloth never fails to look elegant and will set the tone for a formal setting. Use a large charger plate to define the space for each place setting. Gold or a silver design will add a touch of opulence. It can be used to set the decor theme for the overall table. Place a gold charger underneath white china to reflect the glow of candlelight on the table. Shimmering shades of gold go well with a dark wooden table, teamed with detailed china and glassware designs.
To create a luxurious and sophisticated look combine soft shades of gold, bronze and pewter with a navy blue table cloth and napkins. Team with gold trimmed china and gold cutlery. For a winter-wonderland look use silver. It is all about sparkle and shine. The only other colours you need in this scheme are white and green foliage to keep the look fresh and unfussy. Delicate glassware and silver decorations will stand put against the greenery. Hang battery-operated fairy-lights over the table and they will reflect with glass on the table. Add a runner with silver details to soften a crisp white tablecloth. To evoke a snowfall and frost theme, use cool blue and white colours. Make paper snowflake decorations and add place names on paper doilies. The fairy lights will also do well with this theme.
Red and white colour scheme never fails to make an impression. For relaxed dinning, use a simple table runner or place mats. Use bright red and off-white tones over a dark wooden table. For a more country look, use traditional rich red with small-scale red and white check. Stoneware crockery would add a contemporary twist to the decor.
No table setting would be complete without a centrepiece. It is easy to make one from items you already have. Fill a glass cake stand and dome with baubles to co-ordinate with your colour scheme. Or you could use a glass vase, jug or a bowl instead. Candles make elegant centrepieces, creating a gorgeous glow and magical feeling. Hurricane lamps are great for keeping the candle contained, leaving you free to decorate the base with foliage, real or silk followers. Stand different size candles on a square mirror. Decorate some of them with ribbon and decorate the base of the arrangement with foliage, sprinkled with snow of glitter. Always play safe with candles and never leave them on their own.
A floral centrepiece can complete your Christmas dining table. It doesn’t have to be a big display. You can use foliage and flowers from your garden. But do support your local florist and garden centre and get them to create an arrangement for you. Also you could use a group of three potted plants as an arrangement e.g. white Cyclamens or Poinsettias. Or place a wreath on the table and filled with tea lights and baubles.
Like decorating the house, accessories for the table add the finishing touches. Decorate your existing napkins by tying them with hessian or ribbon and add a seasonal touch with cinnamon sticks and berries. A quick way to give napkins a new look is to add a napkins ring. There are plenty out there to choose from or create your own. Update plain cutlery by wrapping the handles in ribbon to tie with other colours on the table. Add some novelty factor to your table with festive salt and pepper sets or place a Christmas wine charm around the stem of your wine glasses. It also helps to identify your glass in a crowd.
Use place cards so that guests can see where you’d like them to sit. They add the perfect finishing touch to the table and you can create your own. Decorative baubles can make interesting place-card holders and guests can take them home as mementoes to hang on their own tree each year. For a unique touch, position a small gift on each place setting or a candy cane for a sweet touch. Handwritten menus show attention to detail and are easy to make. For a menu scroll, print or write your menu on parchment paper. Last, but not least, don’t forget the crackers. There is a wide range to choose from i.e. luxurious and expensive to cheap and tacky. You could base your table colours and theme around your chosen crackers.
Now that you have decorated the table, don’t forget the chairs. They can be decorated with covers, cushions, ribbons and bows etc. Or keep it simple e.g. a single flower with foliage tracking down the back looks good.
Now that the table is decorated and the dinner is served, sit back and enjoy it.
Mary D. Kelly