The Christmas season is upon us, and that means it’s time to impress your guests with a beautiful and inviting festive table setting.
Whether you’re hosting a formal dinner or something more casual, you can create a stunning tablescape that reflects your personal style and the occasion.
Here are some tips from the team at Christmas.co.uk on how to set a festive table to impress.
Step 1: Gather your tableware and linens
Before you start arranging anything, make sure you have all the necessary tableware and Christmas tablecloths and linens ready. Here’s a checklist:
Tableware: Dinner Plates: Choose elegant dinner plates that match the occasion or theme. Classic white plates work for most settings.
Salad Plates: Smaller plates for salads or appetisers, if needed.
Soup Bowls: For courses that involve soup or broth.
Cutlery: Forks, knives and spoons should be set for each course. Place them in the order they will be used, from the outside in.
- Glassware: Wine glasses, water glasses, and any other drink-specific glassware.
- Napkin Rings: If you have cloth napkins, consider using decorative napkin rings to add a festive touch.
- Christmas tablecloths and Linens: Tablecloth or table runner – choose a tablecloth that complements the occasion. Table runners can be used for a more casual look.
- Napkins: Cloth napkins, preferably matching or coordinating with the tablecloth.
- Placemats (Optional): Placemats can add an extra layer of style to your table setting.
How to Style Your Christmas Table – Hobbycraft
This is a great video by Laura, a stylist from Hobbycraft, on how to set an eye-catching Christmas dinner table.
Starting with the choice of linen tablecloth, she explains that you start building your table up from there.
Moving on to styling the place settings, she starts with layering the plates and cutlery.
There are also homemade Christmas crackers and stylish name cards.
There’s also good use of mâché cones and moss and there’s an impressive floral centrepiece.
Laura uses artificial foliage, but this is a great opportunity to use fresh foliage and really show off your creativity!
This is a very simple process, and the finished table really will impress.
Step 2: Choose a festive table theme and colour scheme
The first step to setting a festive table is to decide on a theme and colour scheme that suits your event and your home decor. You can go for:
A traditional look with red, green and gold
Or opt for something more modern and minimalist with white, silver and blue.
You can also choose a theme based on the season, such as winter wonderland, rustic autumn or even spring blossom.
Whatever colour or theme you choose, make sure it’s consistent throughout your tableware, linens and accessories.
Step 3: Lay the foundation
The next step is to lay the foundation of your table setting with a tablecloth, runner or placemats.
A tablecloth can add elegance and warmth to your table, while a runner or placemats can create contrast and texture.
You can also layer different fabrics and patterns for a more dynamic look.
For example, you can use a plain white tablecloth and top it with a gold or silver – or even tartan – runner or napkins for a cosy feel.
For the tablecloth or runner, spread your chosen item evenly over the table. Make sure it’s centred and hangs evenly on all sides.
And if you are using placemats, place these on top of the tablecloth or directly on the table, aligning them with the edge of the table.
Step 4: Set the plates and cutlery
The third step is to set the plates and cutlery according to the type of meal you’re serving.
For a formal dinner, you’ll need a charger plate – that’s the big plate that goes at the bottom, so the other plates are stacked on top of it. It tends to be a decorative plate which is sometimes called a service plate or the under plate (and, sometimes, the chop plate). Since they are decorative, they aren’t used for food and help protect the tablecloth.
You also need a dinner plate, a soup bowl and bread plate if you are dishing up soup, a dessert plate, a napkin, a water glass, a wine glass, a fork, a knife and a spoon.
For a casual affair, you can simplify the setting by using only a dinner plate, a napkin, a glass and the necessary cutlery.
You can also add some flair to your plates and cutlery by using festive colours, shapes or patterns, or by tying ribbons or sprigs of herbs around the napkins.
The placement of plates and cutlery depends on the number of courses you’ll be serving.
For a standard three-course meal (starter, main course, dessert), follow these guidelines:
- Dinner Plate: Position the dinner plate in the centre of each place setting.
- Cutlery: Place the cutlery in the following order on each side of the plate:
- Forks: On the left, with the salad fork on the outermost side and the dinner fork closest to the plate.
- Knives: On the right, with the dinner knife closest to the plate and the butter knife (if needed) on the outside.
- Spoons: If needed for dessert or soup, place them horizontally above the plate.
- Glassware: Set wine glasses above and to the right of the plate. Water glasses can be placed slightly to the right and above the wine glasses.
How to lay the perfect Christmas table with Mrs Alice
This video from Jessica Doyle at the Daily Telegraph and Mrs Alice offers a stylish and quick way to lay the perfect Christmas dinner table for family and guests.
From place settings to themes and personal touches, there’s a lot to takeaway here.
We also liked the advice on the Christmas dinner centrepieces.
The video is of use to seasoned hosts and hostesses – and those entertaining on the big day for the first time – if cooking Christmas dinner for your guests wasn’t stressful enough!
Again, Mrs Alice starts with the choice of tablecloth – and asks whether you need one at all.
Then she turns to placemats, then plates and then cutlery.
We also liked the addition of table attractions including swans and unicorns before adding candles.
Step 5: Fold and position the napkins
Napkins can add a touch of elegance to your table setting. Here’s how to fold and position them:
- Fold napkins: Fold cloth napkins neatly and uniformly. Common options include the classic rectangle fold or the elegant fan fold.
- Napkin placement: Position the folded napkin either on the dinner plate or to the left of the forks. You can also use decorative napkin rings for an extra festive touch.
Step 6: Add the centrepiece
This step is to add the centrepiece to your table, which is the focal point of your tablescape.
You can use fresh or artificial flowers, candles, lanterns, fruits, nuts, pinecones, ornaments or any other items that match your theme and colour scheme.
You can also use different heights and sizes of containers to create interest and dimension.
The key is to keep the centrepiece low enough so that it doesn’t block the view of your guests or interfere with the conversation.
Step 7: Finish with the details
The final step is to finish your table setting with some details that add personality and charm to your table. Here are some finishing touches you can consider:
Centrepiece: A centrepiece is the focal point of your table. Use fresh flowers, candles, or a decorative arrangement that complements your theme.
Name Cards (Optional): If you’re hosting a seated dinner, consider using name cards to assign seats. They can also serve as a decorative element.
- Candles: Add candlesticks or tea lights to create a warm and inviting ambiance. Be sure they are placed away from flammable items and within reach for lighting.
- Table decorations: Scatter small decorative items, like seasonal ornaments or confetti, around the table for added charm.
You can also use menu cards, favour bags, Christmas crackers, confetti or any other small touches that make your guests feel special and welcome.
You could also consider lighting effects such as fairy lights, candles or string lights to create a cosy and festive atmosphere.
Step 8: Consider table etiquette
As a final tip, it’s essential to remember some table etiquette basics:
- Utensil usage: Work from the outside in when using cutlery. Start with the outermost utensils for the first course and progress inward with each subsequent course.
- Napkin etiquette: Place your napkin on your lap when seated and use it to wipe your mouth as needed. When you leave the table temporarily, loosely fold your napkin and place it on your chair.
- Toasting: If there will be toasts during the meal, make sure everyone has a filled glass. When toasting, raise your glass and make eye contact with the person you’re toasting.
- Conversation: Engage in polite and pleasant conversation with your fellow diners. Avoid contentious topics and practice good manners.
How to set a Christmas table
And there you have it – eight easy steps on how to set a festive table that will wow your guests and make your event memorable.
Setting a festive table should be an enjoyable and creative process.
With our step-by-step instructions and helpful tips, you can create a stunning table setting that will impress your guests and elevate your dining experience to a whole new level.
So go ahead, embrace your inner host or hostess, and create a festive atmosphere that will be remembered for years to come.