Christmas is almost upon us and while we’re not planning a menu anymore, we are thinking about ways to create the perfect Christmas table. While we all have different tastes when it comes to laying a table, there are a few key aspects that are eternal and today I’m sharing with you my Christmas tablescape ideas and how I put this look together.
The first thing to consider when creating any tablesscape is the colour scheme. When thinking about a colour scheme, look to your walls, window treatments, furniture or dining chairs for inspiration. Here I’ve gone with red roses to compliment the red velvet upholstered chairs.
To make the centrepiece I’ve used a glass silver-footed bowl and cultivated roses to add a touch of elegance to the wild foliage which I collected on a nature walk. I’ve added baubles and pine greens for a kiss of Christmas cheer as well as pine cones that were attached with craft wire. I’ve masked the oasis in the transparent bowl by wrapping the flexible branches of pine greens around it. To create a more abstract look I clustered the roses together instead of placing them proportionately in the arrangement. Dry sticks add a bit of height since I kept the centrepiece quite low on the table making for easy and comfortable chat amongst guests. I think the correct height of a dinner table centrepiece is very important because it allows your guests the freedom to converse across the table and not feel restricted to only communicate to the adjacent person. So while the centrepiece is fairly low, the sticks draw the eye upward which gives the illusion of it being higher than it actually is.
A few tips when using flowers in your arrangement is to make sure that your oasis is sufficiently soaked in water. Ensure that it fits snugly in place and if working with roses try to snip the stems just above the node which allows the flower to drink easily. Start by building a base of greens to fill your arrangement before placing in the focus of colour by means of precious flowers, in this case that would be the roses, baubles and pine cones. Try to create your centrepiece a day in advance because it does take time and patience, you shouldn’t feel anxious or stressed when doing this. However try not to make it more than 3 days in advance because you want your arrangement to look fresh and vibrant.
It’s that time of the year when you want to bring out your best table linens, crystal stemware, silverware and so forth. Usually I would say that if you have a beautiful table there is no need for a tablecloth, but it is Christmas after all and a tablecloth certainly makes a table look dressed. I’ve used a full length vintage French linen embroidered table cloth in a shade of stone covering the table from top to bottom. Thereafter I’ve placed a shorter pristine jacquard tablecloth over that. Most of us only bring out our table linens during special occasions so you want to ensure that they have been ironed and the fold creases pressed out. I’ve done away with using charger plates because I believe in understated elegance and therefore opted for something that feels a bit more relaxed so I’ve replaced the common shiny, glitzy under plate with a placemat. If I had to use a charger it would most certainly have been high quality ceramic or porcelain under plates not anything fancier than that. It’s not imperative to use either but for more a complete look it’s a good option.
When choosing the dinnerware, I always think about how the food is going to look when it’s on the plate. While decorated china looks beautiful on the table, it often works to the detriment of the food that’s served in it, so in this case I’ve used crisp white crockery with a subtle silver trim. It looks clean, fresh and elegant. Dinner plate and salad bowl goes one over the other while I’ve put the bread plate to the left to make space for the centrepiece. On the bread plate I’ve placed matching French linen napkins with silver napkin rings that compliment the silver footed bowl centrepiece. When it comes to cutlery I would suggest placing all cutlery in a solution of baking soda and water to get rid of water spots and such. If using silverware instead of stainless steel polishing them a couple of days in advance could make or break your tablescape.
Remember salad course fork and meat course fork to the left and salad course knife and meat course knife to right, working its way from the inside out with each course. If serving a fish course or a soup course you would have to incorporate those accordingly as well. The butter knife should sit on the bread plate but I’ve refrained from doing that because I used the bread plate for the napkin. Once the napkins are on the laps of the guests the butter knife can then be introduced onto the bread plate. The dessert cutlery traditionally sits in front of the dinner plate, but again I’ve refrained from this to make space for the centrepiece. While there are hard and fast rules to table etiquette, I believe that one should do what one has sufficient space for. A table should never look cluttered. As a final suggestion with regards to the dinnerware you could also add place cards inside the salad bowls if hosting many guests to avoid too much confusion and the guests if they are more than four, would most likely appreciate it. In fact when seating guests avoid seating couples together, it’s a time for people to form new friendships or catch up with old ones.
With regards to the stemware I would suggest running them through a quick hot cycle in the dishwasher so that they steam dry and come out looking sparkling. Usually the stemware sits at the top right of the dinner plate and is placed according to the wines that will be served. Don’t be afraid to mix and match. I’ve combined long-stemmed as well as stemless crystal for white wine and water and a silver trimmed flute that compliments the crockery for champagne or dessert wine. This glass should stand behind the other glasses as it is served with the dessert course but that depends entirely on the space on your table. Also don’t be afraid to add colour to your table by way of glasses. For instance a water glass in a complimentary colour can add a burst of blush to the table.
So far we’ve tackled the must-have’s on the table. Now my favourite part! Like everything in life even a tablescape needs art and we should consider centrepieces and other elements like candlesticks and abstract pieces as the art decor of the table. Even though I’ve made the centrepiece and it’s looking good I still feel like the table needs something more. By merely placing Christmas greens on the table lengthways, almost immediately the table started to take on a more vibrant, decorative pose rather than the clinical quality it possessed before. To extend the movement of the eye from the centrepiece outward, I placed rose heads in small glasses and set those in between the Christmas greens. To that I lodged in a few pine cones for more authentic character and of course one can not have a dinner table without candle light.
There’s something about candlelight that breathes intimacy into a room and brings cherished moments literally to light. More than that, the glow of candlelight adds an ambience to everything on the table and suddenly even a simple plate becomes something to admire. I randomly placed tea lights in glass pleated holders in a colour similar to the decorative work on the placemats and because I could not use candelabras which would have once again obscured the view of the guests I chose to place two matching long candles not in candlesticks but in crystal oil and vinegar bottles at opposite ends of each other because they were small enough not to monopolise the space on the table. For a personal touch I added silver-plated hand made pears here and there that are sentimental to me.
As you can see it’s these final touches that distinctly take the tablescape from one dimension to another, that is why I always think that starting with a neutral palette like I’ve done here with the white and stone undertones and then adding splashes of red and green for saturation is the safest route to go when you are not very experienced in designing a tablescape. If your base colours are neutral then I suppose that whatever you choose to add colour-wise should work in a complimentary way. Even though a dinner table for a special occasion should be beautiful it also needs to be practical. I’ve restricted myself from serving too many courses. Many courses translates into too much crockery and cutlery and glassware on the table. If serving tea and coffee afterward, you may want to consider laying out your cups and saucers and so forth on a side board to not clutter your dinner table. It will also give your guests a chance to stand up and mingle with one another.
So there it is dear readers, a modern twist on a traditional design to bring in the merriment of Christmas with stylish sophistication. I hope you will draw some inspiration from this and remember, whatever your tablescape dreams may be this Christmas, do it with confidence. Much Love……