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Bringing the magic of the season to your table
Do you love the beautiful festive decorations of Christmas? Whilst most people tend to focus on their living rooms, the dining area is a fabulous place to add a little magic too. We spoke to styling expert Laura Clark, Director of Ambience Venue Styling UK about making your festive dining experience extra special.
Why do you think festive table settings make such a difference?
At Christmas there is a much bigger shift towards the home – there’s the family gatherings, time off work, and the colder weather – it all combines to mean that there’s more time spent in the home. We tend to find that we want to make more of an effort when there’s a reason to.
When we are taking a break from the usual ‘daily grind’ it means we can stop and enjoy the season. We want to feel special, but we also want to make others feel special. And, of course, festive table settings just enhance the room and makes it look amazing.
What would you say is essential when dressing a festive table?
Well, just as with your clothes in winter; layering is key! Create your place settings by starting with a decorative charger plate, followed by your dinner plate, then add your napkins and be as creative as you want when it comes to folding these - there’s lots of “how to” videos on YouTube. Finish with a seasonal accessory such as cinnamon sticks wrapped in twine, pine cone or a stem of greenery for a festive personalised touch.
Mix colours and textures whilst you’re decorating – coloured candles are very popular. Try to avoid mixing metallic colours – pick either silver or gold in your décor and focus on accent colours around it. You can have a look at some of my suggested looks later in this article for ideas.
Is there anything you’d suggest avoiding?
Absolutely! Two of the biggest things to avoid are:
Large centrepieces: The last thing you want when you’ve spent all that time decorating, cooking, and gathering people is to not be able to see and talk to each other! We suggest anything below 60cm is ideal.
Scented candles: As lovely as a vanilla candle is, you don’t want that scent washing over your guests when you serve your Christmas turkey! Candles and candlesticks are a staple of a beautiful table but stick with scent-free wax.
Are there any easy to source items for people on a budget?
If you live near a flower market, then you can get beautiful blooms and spruces for great prices. If you don’t live near one, then you could even take cuttings from your garden – it doesn’t have to be a full garland, you can lay bits of spruce and add other items around it.
Places like The Range or Christmas markets have very reasonably priced items, or why not have a look in your local charity shop? They’ll always have some vases or candlesticks you can utilise for your table.
The items you use at your table don’t need to be brand new either – have a look around your home and see what you can bring in and make more festive with candles or lights.
How can you bring nature and/or sustainability into decorating a festive table?
You can bring the outdoors into your home by bringing in a spruce garland. These can last about a month if prepared properly – similarly to how you would prepare a wreath for your door, and provided your room isn’t too warm. You can keep the base of the garland and vary the surrounding decorations throughout the Christmas season.
You can source a full garland from flower markets, or you could find smaller sections on a walk in the countryside- but be sure you check that you’re allowed to take cuttings from where you go. Don’t forget to pick up some pine cones on your walk too.
When it comes to sustainability, the key is to remember to buy things that can be used year after year – or even throughout the year! If you feel that metallic decorations are too Christmassy, then clear glass works incredibly well and can be then moved into a different room once the festive season is over. Add water to clear glassware, add some floating candles and the lights will reflect and bring a gorgeous look to your room.
Inspiration for your table
Laura has created some gorgeous looks that you could gain inspiration from for your own festive table. Here are 5 looks you could recreate in your dining room this year:
Burgundy, green and gold
A spruce garland runs the length of the table with coloured taper candles in varying heights and shades of green interspersed throughout. Pops of deep burgundy is used as the accent colour in simple floral votives and low level candlelight is added to bring the tablescape to life.
To create a modern take on a traditional look, use delicate gold rimmed glassware, gold cutlery and charger plates with a contrasting burgundy napkin to pull out the colours from the tablescape. A deep rich colour palette that oozes elegance and the spruce instantly makes the room smell so Christmassy!
Silver, green and brown
Beautiful Nordic inspiration, perfect for a neutral or grey room. A spruce garland runs the length of the table with grey and brown taper candles interspersed throughout. Clear glass bud vases are added with white bouvardia florals and silver dyed skimmia to lift the whole look.
Silver beaded charger plates with white napkins are finished off with pine cone accessories.
3. Champagne Luxe
Muted gold, champagne, ivory and eucalyptus
An elegant opulent look for those that are wanting something more glamorous. It’s a tablescape with muted gold and champagne accessories, all positioned on a champagne sequin table runner. To soften the look, we use simple avalanche roses and champagne dyed skimmia and completed with eucalyptus stems.
Gold edged charger plates are used with ivory napkins and a stem of eucalyptus.
4. Copper woodland
Copper, brown, pops of peach and leather leaf ferns
There is a really opulent, rich woodland feel to this look - a modern take on a traditional rustic design.
Use a bed of leather leaf ferns as the base for the tablescape and then layer this up with copper and clear vases of florals and foliage. To add a festive edge, use dried orange slices which complement the warmer tones of the copper and team this up with pine cones.
Brown ceramic plates with wheat coloured napkins and cinnamon sticks wrapped in twine are used to add a little festive charm.
5. Neutral/earthy elegance
Eucalyptus, brown, copper, silver and taupe
This look is all about the candlelight! A eucalyptus garland is used over the top of a wheat linen runner. A minimalist woodland design using deeper tones of copper and brown, lifted with complimenting coloured taper candles, pillar candles and matching linen napkins.
Brown ceramic plates are layered on top of silver beaded charger plates for a touch of elegance.