Dressed for dinner
The Christmas dinner will feel even more special, when the dining table is dressed for the occasion, so bring out the crystal, polish the silver and set the scene for a great feast with family and friends. It is the perfect time to go to town with festive centrepieces and decorations. You don’t have to go to a lot of expense, but use what you already have and some imagination. Use colours and themes to create a festive feeling and also to bring the decor scheme together. Traditional Christmas style is lavish and luxurious and conjures up memories of times past, use reds and greens or reds and gold. Dress the table with rich red table cloth, crisp white napkins, gold-rimmed china, chunky church candles and white floral display for timeless table display. You can mix and match classic white china with a few ‘special occasion’ pieces and choose glassware in a traditional design, that won’t go out of fashion. Remember glassware gives height to the table and adds interest and helps bring the colour scheme together. Of course you could go for coloured glassware, sure as red for a more dramatic effect and base your colour scheme around this. Make the table the focus of attention with, e.g. red and white striped runner instead of a table cloth, with jugs of red and white roses and twinkling tea lights.
Create a contemporary look with a simple theme and mixing no more than two colours, e.g. crisp whites teamed with silvery grey. Use silver or glass candlesticks, snowflake or silver crackers, white napkins with glass beaded napkins rings etc. Soft blues and greens would also suit this style. Create a magical scheme with glass tea lights holders and glass table decorations to reflect the light; you could also pep up your table with hot colours of pink turquoise, purple and green, by mixing and matching colourful baubles, crackers, tableware etc. When decorating the table keep in mind the other colours in the room, try to introduce some of these to the colour scheme, but don’t be restricted by them.
A centrepiece will add something special to the table; it can be flowers, candles, candlesticks, baubles etc. Pull out all the vases that are tucked away in presses and cupboards and fill then with flowers. Add some branches spray painted silver or gold or buy fake foliage. White roses are a Christmas classic. Place them in a glass vase and keep the stems short to create a tightly-packed posy that won’t obscure your view across the table. Fill a glass bowl with dried flowers e.g. hydrangea and place gold sprayed ivy around the edges. Support your local florist or garden centre and get them to create a beautiful arrangement. It will last over the Christmas period, if you look after it.
There is nothing to match the magical glow of flickering candlelight, it creates atmosphere and brings the whole house to life, whether it’s the plain white candles or the humble tea light. Combine different size and shaped candles to create a centrepiece for the table. They could be arranged on a glass cake stand. Group a circle of long narrow festive red candles in a silver sprayed garland as a centrepiece. Set a traditional white pillar candle in a circle of coloured baubles that capture other colours on the table. Floating candles also create a beautiful effect. Wind ivy around tall silver candlesticks for a traditional look. Or give your silver candlestick a funky look with hot pink candles. Always play safe with candles and never leave them on their own.
Baubles are not just for decorating the Christmas tree; they can also be used to create a centrepiece. For a quick and easy way, arrange a selection of brightly coloured baubles in different sizes and shapes on a glass cake stand or fill stemmed glass goblets with mini baubles to create a focal point. Add in larger baubles in the same tones for real impact. Fill a shallow bowl with a mixture of plain and decorated baubles in different shapes and sizes, sticking to one or two colours e.g. silver and ice blue. As an alternative to a floral display, use an unusual houseplant and cover the soil with baubles. A bowl of holly with red berries in the middle of the table makes the perfect centrepiece and needs no embellishment. Whatever the centrepiece you choose to use, it should not be so high that you can’t see the other diners or so big that there’s no room for food.
Like decorating the house, accessories for the table add the finishing touches. Add detail with napkins and if you are using a runner, use the same colour and texture to keep the look co-ordinated. Dress up place settings by tying a bauble around a napkin with ribbon and place a flower on top. You can also decorate you cutlery with ribbon e.g. plain silver cutlery tied with colour ribbon, looks very pretty and is inexpensive. Make your own crackers by using rolled-up napkins. Insert a cardboard tube, put a little present inside and tie the ends with ribbon. Add interest with seasonal or quirky napkin rings. There are plenty out there to choose from. Handwritten menus and place-cards show attention to detail, it avoids the confusion of who is sitting where and it should impress your guests. Write place names on dark coloured cards with a gold pen and hold them in place with bird clips or on a white card with red writing, place on the antler of a silver reindeer.
For menu scroll, print or write your menu on parchment paper. Glue either end of paper to chop sticks, before rolling it up. It will create some fun at the table. You could also have little presents or sweets placed around the table. Christmas wouldn’t be fun without crackers. There is a wide range to choose from i.e. luxurious and expensive to the cheap and tacky. You could base your table colour and theme around your chosen crackers. In some cases mini crackers may be more practical as table decorations than the large ones, which can take a lot of room. Add the personal touch by making your own, decorated with ribbon and filled with mini gifts.
Now that you have decorated the table, don’t forget the chairs. They can be decorated with covers, cushions, ribbons and bows etc. Go for all “glam” with red velvet covers trimmed with light catching beads or dress them in different bright colours for a dramatic effect. Make each special with a personalised name tag and Christmas decoration. For children you could have a pretty gift bag or a small Christmas stocking attached to the back of the chair with a strip of ribbon. Fill them with sweets and a small treat. Co-ordinate tartan bows on the back of chairs with tartan ribbon around the cutlery. Or keep it simple and hang a decoration e.g. snowflake from ribbon by securing with sticky tape to the front of each chair and then hang over the back.
Good food and good company are two of life’s great pleasures and dining room table is where these pleasures come together, so enjoy it.
Mary D. Kelly
091 798 224