After all, if you can’t go over the top at Christmas, when can you?
How to create a formal setting
- Gold has come back into fashion in a big way and, when it’s done well it looks expensive without being ostentatious. Pick elements such as chargers, napkin rings, and glasses, that are gold or patterned with gold, then keep the rest of the palette to one or two colours max, so the overall look is classy rather than blingy.
- Lay a plain coloured linen table cloth; your choice of colour will dictate how formal your setting looks – the darker the cloth, the more formal the setting and the straighter you’ll find yourself sitting at the table!
- Lay your table with a charger (a fancy type of place mat), layer on your plates, pop bon-bons either to the side or at the top of your plates and add a water tumbler, wine glass and champagne flute to each setting. If you can fit it, put everything on the table from the start so you’re not running around trying to find the next round of plates and glasses as you progress through the meal.
- Add cutlery that matches your colour palette, a matching napkin ring (try positioning it on the top or bottom third of your napkin for added formality) and create individual place settings by writing names on place cards or adding a hand-written name tag to baubles and placing one on each plate.
- As a centrepiece you can’t beat beautiful freshly cut blooms and grouped of candles for soft, romantic elegance. Or up the festive factor by draping a spruce garland down the centre of your table and tucking a sprig of greenery and some berries into your napkin holders.
Tip: I like to set the table on Christmas Eve so it’s one less thing for me to think about on the big day.
How to create a casula setting
If that all sounds a little stiff and grown up for your family gathering this year, why not go the casual route?
- You can use colour, texture or a mix of both to give your Christmas table that laid back air.
- Start with a boldly striped tablecloth in a neutral colour palette of earthy camels, creams and greens. (If you can’t find anything you like in the shops, good quality bed linen can work a treat and will scrub up perfectly when you pop it in the washing machine!)
- Then select pieces that are informal, but that have a bit of guts about them. Sea grass tablemats add great earthy texture to a table setting, as can chunky, weighty glassware.
- Choose plates in neutral shades, ideally with textured surfaces to add to the deconstructed feel.
- Again, candles make a beautiful focal point on an informal table and flameless candles are a great option because you can set them on a timer and they’ll turn themselves out when the day’s over. House them in glass holders so they don’t interrupt your guests’ view across the table and avoid the temptation to use scented candles on your Christmas table though. The smell will compete with the food.
- A large wooden bowl stacked with oranges, lemons and limes or seasonal fruit is another great way to create wow factor on a casual Christmas table.
Tip: The less crockery and glassware you put on your table, the more informal it will feel. Something to consider if you’re entertaining families with small children.