A pretty Christmas tree with glowing lights and scattered presents is one thing, but a perfectly designed Christmas dinner table is entirely something else. After all, you want that festive feast to be one of the highlights of your holiday season, correct? Then it all boils down to how you approach that table and its accompanying decorations.
So, to make your Christmas dinner extra special this year, let’s see how to decorate your table in style just like the professionals.
Don’t just randomly pick elements left and right. To ensure your table has a well-put-together look, pick a theme and colour scheme.
If you’re stuck for ideas, remember that the classic red, green and gold palette is always a timeless option that ensures a traditional look. For a subtle chic look, go with frosty silver and white. For a more contemporary Scandinavian vibe, we suggest pairing red and white with natural touches such as wood (pine cones), foliage (wreaths), etc.
Never leave your table until the last minute. We understand you might need it for Christmas prepping beforehand (i.e. wrapping gifts), but always ensure you beat the rush by finalising it before Christmas eve. This will ensure you have adequate time to focus on last-minute problems (such as realising you don’t have enough chairs or plates, for instance).
Start by covering your table with a cloth or runner – this is not only for aesthetic value, but also to protect your dining table from spills. And remember that you don’t need to opt for the very best linen to make your Christmas table look exquisite. Even something as simple as a paper cloth can be stunning with the right colours and accessories. Just ensure that whatever cloth you use is ironed properly (even paper) for a neat finish.
Here is where you start to layer the look of your dining table with charger plates or placemats. For a quick placemat solution, take an A3-size sheet of white paper. Fold this in half and fold it again. Cut out small shapes from the paper through the layers before unfolding. Iron your cut sheet for a decorative snowflake-effect setting.
Now we get to the practical tools of your Christmas dinner: the crockery and glassware. Fortunately, nobody is forcing you to spend a fortune on special Christmas china or crystal glassware for a deluxe table setting. With a few special touches, even the most budget-plain china and basic glassware can look striking (and expensive).
For an indulgent look, layer your dinnerware with two sets of china with an extra dinner-, side plate, and bowl—it’s how the royals and rich do it! When done, add a touch of festive foliage or bauble for some extra festive style.
After adding your cutlery (main course knife and fork on either side of the charger plate, starter knife and fork on the outside, dessert fork at the top with the handle showing left, and the spoon above that with its handle pointing right), move on to a striking centrepiece.
A festive wreath is always a winner and can stylishly ground your dinner table by providing colour, texture and pattern in the middle of it. Don’t forget to add some sturdy pillar candles in varying sizes and to place a heatproof mat below your centrepiece. And always keep the foliage away from the flames. If you’d rather not be on the watch-out for a fire during your Christmas dinner, we recommend battery-operated candles which can look just as stunning as the real version.
Not enough space for a wreath on your dining table? Lay down a simple runner in the centre and entwine it with a few pine cones, cherries, and some battery-operated fairy lights. A few baubles can also add to the colour scheme, but in the end you need to ensure there’s adequate space for your plates, glassware and guests.
Another (more contemporary) idea is to place a mirror tile in the centre of your table and top it with a variety of glass candlesticks in varying shapes and sizes. That mirror is perfect for accentuating the soft glow of the candlelight for a magical ambience.
Surround this centrepiece with some baubles that enhance your colour palette – some festive foliage is optional if you don’t want the setting to be too subtle and minimalistic.
Got a seating chart in mind? Place cards is a great way of ensuring strangers sit next to each other, creating the possibility of new friendships. But instead of a simple place card, tie a name card to each Christmas cracker, or write each guest’s name on a bauble with glittery marker pen before placing it on a plate or in a champagne / wine glass.
For the napkins, you can go as subtle or as elaborate as you wish – that’s the great thing about being the host! To keep it simple, roll those napkins in napkin rings or tie each one with a pretty ribbon. To impress, we suggest looking up a YouTube video to fold your napkins into elaborate shapes like elf hats or turkeys.
We understand Christmas crackers are traditional and that, for some people, a Christmas dinner table with an assortment of crackers might look underdone. But if you don’t want the additional cracking noise, simply take a bauble or piece of covered chocolate and wrap it in linen to mimic a traditional cracker. Whichever route you go, just ensure your crackers (real or fake) coordinate with your table- and colour scheme.
Want to further set your table design apart from your neighbour’s? It’s the little details that will make all the difference, such as a personalised bauble tied or pinned to each chair (which could also flaunt each guest’s name if you haven’t already done so).
For a more dramatic look, opt for a bauble cluster with four or five baubles (in different sizes) tied together with some festive foliage.
To help ensure your festive holiday proceeds as perfect as possible, see these 9 Christmas decoration errors to avoid.