Tablescaping: How to style a striking centrepiece and dress your table for Christmas

November 29, 2023 09:00 PM GMT | By PAMEDIA
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With tablescaping trending big-time this Christmas, laying the table with statement settings – from luxe to whimsy – will make it worthy of all your starters, sides and glass of sparkle to toast the holiday season.

“Your tablescape is the perfect opportunity to grab the attention of your loved ones, showcasing your personal style while creating an inviting and wholesome atmosphere for a special day,” says Helen Joseph, interior designer at Redrow.

“Interior décor has huge subliminal impact on our feelings which is why it’s pivotal to bring the magic of Christmas to the table – the heart of a Christmas gathering.”

Festive tablescape with white tableware
Dressed to impress, steal the show and create a piece of art work with a tip-top table setting (Redrow/PA)

Not only that, Joseph says it’s also a time to let your creativity run wild without judgement – and remember this is an annual opportunity to host an unforgettable day.

Here, experts share there top tips to make a lasting impression…

The scheme of things

“When choosing the theme of your Christmas dinner table design, you need to consider a colour scheme that complements your existing home aesthetic, as well as any other decorations you’ve placed around your home – and on the tree,” advises Kelly Hoppen CBE, multi-award-winning designer.

Glass Pillar Candle Holder, Large, £28, Small, £22, Mercury Tealight Holder, £4.20 (was £6) rest of items from a selection, The White Company
Glass Pillar Candle Holder, Large, £28, Small, £22, Mercury Tealight Holder, £4.20 (was £6) rest of items from a selection, The White Company (The White Company/PA)

“I do this every year and although Christmas is a time where you can really break the rules and get creative, my most favourite festive schemes are simple, elegant and timeless,” says Hoppen. “Creating the most magical, cosy atmosphere for hosting friends and family.”

White Christmas

TruGlow White Star Christmas Candle Duo, £22.99 (was £29.99), Lights4Fun
TruGlow White Star Christmas Candle Duo, £29.99, Lights4Fun (Lights4Fun/PA)

“For a serene ‘White Christmas’ theme, I recommend starting with a range of glass vases in different heights,” suggests Hoppen. “Select the taller vessels and style them as hurricane candles, however, nothing too tall so guests are still able to see each other across the table.”

MM Living White Table Range: Living Glacier Bobble Dinner Plate, £12; Side Plate, £10; Pasta Bowl, £12, rest of items from a selection, Pure Table Top
MM Living White Table Range: Living Glacier Bobble Dinner Plate, £12; Side Plate, £10; Pasta Bowl, £12, rest of items from a selection, Pure Table Top (Pure Table Top/PA)

“Then, for lower vessels, you can add bunches of white foliage. I like to have one statement flower or foliage as the feature for the table, so perhaps opt for a white anemone poppy, a helleborus, or for that snowy effect go for gypsophila (baby’s breath).”

John Lewis Polar Planet White Berry Half Wreath, £15, John Lewis
John Lewis Polar Planet White Berry Half Wreath, £15, John Lewis (John Lewis/PA)

If space allows, she says to place a winter foliage wreath in and amongst the vases, to sit around a raised serving dish, or cake stand.

“This is perfect for elevating dishes to display your delicious festive feasts, and while the food is being prepared, you can add some elegant glass baubles as a placeholder for a jewelled Christmas moment,” says Hoppen.

To add dimension, she says to layer in some metallic decorations such as low-level silver tealights. “The reflections in the finish will create more depth and tie in beautifully with silver cutlery.

“Use white porcelain dinnerware and delicate glassware to keep it simple and create a classy and luxurious feel.” She continues. “For finishing touches, tie a bow with white velvet ribbon around stemware to elevate the overall look and dining experience, adding to the special occasion.”

Black & Gold

Black Bronx 12-Piece Dinner Set, Black, £55, rest of items from a selection, Next
Black Bronx 12-Piece Dinner Set, Black, £55, rest of items from a selection, Next (Next/PA)

Black and gold can bring a real elegance to the Christmas table, notes Hoppen. To achieve this look, she says to start by laying a black tablecloth over your table.

“I then recommend placing fir foliage down the centre of the table as the base, with a fine wire gold garland or fairy lights intertwined for that twinkle element.

“This is a great foundation for any tablescaping theme, and you can even add in sprigs of pussy willow for a velvety indulgent touch.”

Kew Gardens Living Jewels: Black Dinner Plate, £12; Black Side Plate, £10; Black Pasta Bowl, £12; rest of items from a selection, Pure Tabletop
Kew Gardens Living Jewels: Black Dinner Plate, £12; Black Side Plate, £10; Black Pasta Bowl, £12; rest of items from a selection, Pure Table Top (Pure Table Top/PA)

When it comes to the dinnerware, she says to build up layers using a combination of looks.

“I love matt ceramic and you can mix black and white pieces in one stack, starting with your black base plate or round table mat then a white dinner plate, topped with a glass bowl or white bowl with gold rim detail.

Set of Four Blush Noel Champagne Flutes, £36, Ella James
Set of Four Blush Noel Champagne Flutes, £36, Ella James (Ella James/PA)

“I would then opt for either black or gold sets of cutlery, simple stemmed glassware and a smoked glass water tumbler to complete this opulent setting.”

Hoppen says you can tie in this whole look by adding the effortless touch of a chunky knot-tied natural linen napkin to lay upon your plates.

To take it one step further, add an elegant handwritten place card in gold decoration positioned just above the plates.

Comet Gold Pebble Effect Charger Plate, £8; Pharaoh Gold Finish 16-Piece Cutlery Set, £34, Comet
Comet Gold Pebble Effect Charger Plate, £8; Pharaoh Gold Finish 16-Piece Cutlery Set, £34, Comet (Comet/PA)

Embrace the outdoors

Joseph says this simply means “bringing the outdoors in!”

“I see this as embracing natural winter light and woodland elements in the house.”

John Lewis Round Water Hyacinth Woven Placemats, Set of 2, Natural, £12; Nosse Ceramics Smooth Stoneware Dinner Plate, Grey, £12; John Lewis Foliage Motif Mango Wood Serving Bowl, Natural/Green, from £23, rest of items from a selection, John Lewis
John Lewis Round Water Hyacinth Woven Placemats, Set of 2, Natural, £12; Nosse Ceramics Smooth Stoneware Dinner Plate, Grey, £12; John Lewis Foliage Motif Mango Wood Serving Bowl, Natural/Green, from £23, rest of items from a selection, John Lewis (John Lewis/PA)

Even at a time where it may be bleak outside, she says bringing the outside inside will guarantee character.

“Go and pull together pinecones or even foraged foliage for your table,” encourages Joseph. “For a festive fairy tale, don’t be afraid to clash patterns.”

12-Piece Effect Agate Pattern Dinner Set, £60, Green Velvet Napkins, £12, Next
12-Piece Effect Agate Pattern Dinner Set, £60, Green Velvet Napkins, £12, Next (Next/PA)

You can embrace woodland in unexpected ways too, she suggests, through motifs on napkins – or even seat pads combined with raffia straw elements for a modern finish.

John Lewis Flora 12 Days of Christmas Fine China Plates, Set of 12, Assorted, £35; Winter Foliage Fina China Coaster, Multi, £5; 12 Days of Christmas Glass Tumbler, 510ml, Clear/Multi, rest of items from a selection, John Lewis
John Lewis Flora 12 Days of Christmas Fine China Plates, Set of 12, Assorted, £35; Winter Foliage Fina China Coaster, Multi, £5; 12 Days of Christmas Glass Tumbler, 510ml, Clear/Multi, rest of items from a selection, John Lewis (John Lewis/PA)

Pairing handmade textiles with freshly pulled pinecones or foraged berries for a frosty woodland feel is also on-trend this year, adds Joseph.

“Matching these with contemporary finishes creates a charming classical Christmas look.”

Dopamine decor

Tablecloth with Frill Bows Burgundy Rose, £125, Napkin Bows, from £12 (Single), £44 (Pack of 4), Molly Mahon
Tablecloth with Frill Bows Burgundy Rose, £125, Napkin Bows, from £12 (Single), £44 (Pack of 4), Molly Mahon (Molly Mahon/PA)

While entertaining at home is a great opportunity to spend quality time with friends, enjoy good food and wine, it’s also a great excuse to flex your design abilities – and create a beautiful ambience, says Sophie Robinson, interior designer and colour expert.

“And according to recent research carried out by Campo Viejo, creating the right environment surprisingly enhances our enjoyment of the wine!”

Emma Bridgewater Fairy Lights 10 1/2 Inch Plate, £25; Fairy Lights 8 1/2 Inch Plate £22, Emma Bridgewater
Emma Bridgewater Fairy Lights 10½ Inch Plate, £25; Fairy Lights 8½ Inch Plate £22, Emma Bridgewater (Emma Bridgewater/PA)

Furthermore, it’s coined the term ‘dopamine hosting,’ which involves embracing vibrant colour, rich textures, and ambient lighting to create a joyful space “that’s convivial, uplifting and perfect for getting people in a positive mood”, explains Robinson.

And what could be more mood boosting than setting the table with layers of colour and texture to delight the senses – and elevate the dining experience, she adds.

LED Taper Candles, 25cm, Pink & Red, £33.50 per pair, Osski
LED Taper Candles, 25cm, Pink & Red, £33.50 per pair, Osski (Osski/PA)

“Begin by picking a colour scheme of warm shades of red, pink, yellow and orange which are proven to increase the appetite and aid conversation,” notes Robinson.

“Carry out this colour scheme across flowers, tableware and napkins for a vibrant look that still feels coherent.

“Finally, a well-chosen playlist of favourite tunes completes the vibe. And bottoms up!”


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