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Dawn Matthews  |  Dec 15, 2023

How to style your Dining Table this Christmas!

15 Minute Read

Setting your dining table for Christmas shouldn’t look the same as it does when you dress it for your normal Sunday roast dinner, since for most of us, it is the one of the most memorable meals of the year.

Because it is so special, you want your Christmas table to be decorated in such a way that your family, and any guests, are going to talk about it for a while - and maybe even remember it in years to come. With that in mind, we thought we’d talk about some ideas to use for table decor for Christmas in this post, so that you can create the most beautiful tablescape for your family and friends.

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Christmas Table Decoration Ideas

Planning ahead is key for a successful Christmas dinner, and many of us get cracking well ahead of the big day – and in some cases, even before December – so here are the steps we suggest to make sure your Christmas table is decorated perfectly for the big day.

Get the table sorted

First up, prep your table ahead of Christmas week, and check that your dining table is in good condition. If your existing table is past it, or not quite big enough, then order a new table as soon as you can – you want to make sure your new table is delivered with plenty of time for you to set it up and make sure you’re happy ahead of Christmas day. Don’t forget, delivery times change for many companies in December, due to increased demand. Your new dining table should be solid, and last you for years, so buy the best you can afford. Our range is customisable, and has a number of sizes and finishes, so you can choose the best set for your home.

If a new table isn’t required, or in your budget, make sure you’ve polished or waxed your table so that it looks great. If you don’t have time, or you need to use more than one table to fit everyone in, then take the time-efficient (we’d never say lazy!) route of using a tablecloth – nobody will lift it and peek underneath!

Pick a theme

Next, choose a theme for your Christmas table. This will depend upon your personal sense of style, how you have chosen to decorate your home for Christmas, and maybe the people you’re sharing Christmas with. A few theme ideas to consider:

▪  Glamorous and sparkly – choose silver or gold, with crystal accents.
▪  Rustic – use a burlap table runner, a few candles, and vintage plates and glassware for a cottage-inspired look.
▪  Traditional – choose from red, white, gold, and green, and if you fancy a pattern, then a red or green based tartan tablecloth and napkins are ideal.
▪  Contemporary – create a rainbow effect with different baubles, LED fairy lights, and serve food in colourful dishes.
▪  All white everything – think of snow and ice, and you’re onto a winner. Pair white plates and serving dishes with silver cutlery for a simple, yet elegant look.
▪  Playful and child-friendly – add miniature figurines to your centrepiece, and use bright colours.

These aren’t the only options, so if you fancy something entirely different, or with an unusual colour scheme, then search Pinterest for more Christmas table decoration ideas.

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Choose a centrepiece

This will very much depend on the size of your table, how much space you have to work with, and how much space is going to be taken up with place settings and so on. If you’re going to place serving dishes in the centre of your dining table, or you are working with a smaller table, then keep your table decor simple. A few ideas that can be really impactful include:

▪  A pair of candlesticks with tapered candles, or a slim candelabra.
▪  A miniature Christmas tree with LEDs.
▪  Tiny vases with flowers dotted between your serving dishes.
▪  Place a few pine cones on your tablescape, or in a tall glass vase.
▪  A vintage tiered cake stand, filled with decorations like baubles and battery powered LED fairy lights.
▪  Fill a fruit bowl with oranges, apples, pine cones, and sprigs of cranberries and rosemary.

If you’re really short on space but want to add visual interest to your table, you could also hang decorations above the table. Or you could design a centrepiece on a tray, so that it has visual impact as your guests enter the room, but can be easily moved when you need the space.

For larger dining tables, choose your centrepiece based on the theme you’ve chosen, and the space you have available. Of course, you can always use the ideas we’ve made above, but on a larger scale, or with multiples – perhaps you use several larger vases filled with flowers, for example. A few larger suggestions we love include:

▪  Decorate, then place a wreath with candles in the middle at the centre of your table – this is ideal for round tables, and can be customised to match the theme you’ve chosen.
▪  Place a poinsettia or Christmas cactus – or more than one – in the centre of your dinner table.
▪  Chunkier candles (such as those in our range) can be added amongst elements such as greenery or tinsel.
▪  Use garlands of greenery (reusable or fresh) to build your arrangements from.

You don’t have to depend on just one element either. Depending on what you have available and the size of your table, you might layer pieces at different heights to create a more striking look.

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Prepare your dishes

Once you’ve decided on your theme and colour scheme, pull out all the dishes, serving spoons, and cutlery that you’re planning to use, and wash them, so that they are ready to go. At this point, check the extra utensils you might need are ready, such as bottle openers.

It is a good idea to prep food beforehand. Do as much as you can on Christmas Eve, or even before that – this post has some useful guidelines of what foods can be made or prepared before the big day. Don’t forget you’ll need to prep for drinks too. Wine and beer are standard, but if you fancy cocktails with your meal, check out our post “Best Christmas Cocktails for your Kitchen Shelves”.

The extra accessories for Christmas tables

With the theme sorted, and your centrepiece planned, it is down to the last few details – and these are the decorations that make things really special on Christmas Day.

We’ve already mentioned adding a table cloth or runner to your Christmas table, but you can go one step further and add table mats that complement the table cloth or runner, to help the table look coordinated. If you don’t have table mats, and don’t want to buy them, then you could consider adding charger plates (an extra plate between the dining plate and the table), which can make the table look much more formal than it normally does.

Even if you’re sharing Christmas with the family that lives with you, and you will be sitting in your usual chairs, add a place card to each setting. You can make these really simple, such as by using a pen with silver or gold ink, or you could get creative and add in sprigs of holly, a pine cone, or another type of decoration. If you have children, and especially if you’re going for a child-friendly tablescape this Christmas, then get them involved in making them – this is an easy seasonal activity that they can do during December.

Finally, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without Christmas crackers, but they can be pretty wasteful with unnecessary plastic that ends up in the bin. Look for recycled, and recyclable crackers, and that don’t contain any plastic. The RSPB has a lovely rustic range that are also Fairtrade, organic, and suitable for vegetarians, or you can find reusable fabric crackers so that you can add your own special gifts for the day.

Setting the Christmas table

There isn’t a single correct way to lay the table, but this is the order that we suggest – and we definitely suggest doing this on Christmas Eve, to make less work on Christmas Day.

1️⃣   Place your tablecloth or runner on the table.
2️⃣   If you’re using table mats, add these next.
3️⃣   Arrange the centrepiece you’ve planned. Do this before you add crockery and glassware, to prevent accidents. 
4️⃣   Put the dinner plates on each setting. If you’re having soup, stack the bowls on top of the dinner plates for a more formal look.
5️⃣   Add the cutlery based on the courses you’ll be enjoying. Short on cutlery? Bring out forks and spoons with dessert.
6️⃣   Place glassware next – this should include water glasses as well as wine glasses or champagne flutes, or tumblers for                      children.
7️⃣   Add your serving utensils, or make sure they are at hand on a side table. Make sure you have extras such as corkscrews ready as well – you definitely don’t want to be searching for that when you’re ready to recharge your glass!
8️⃣   Put any condiments that you might need on the table, such as salt and pepper, and the butter dish.
9️⃣   Add the finishing touches, such as place cards, Christmas crackers, and so on.

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Sustainable Christmas table ideas

The mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” is quoted throughout the year, and it is a good place to start from, but Christmas is a time that can get pretty wasteful, even when we’re doing our best. Although we’ve talked sustainable Christmas ideas before, we thought we’d share a few tips for keeping your Christmas dining table as sustainable as possible.

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Check what you already have before you buy

While you want to make things special, you don’t have to buy loads of stuff. Most of us end up with Christmas decorations that we don’t use every single year, so rather than leaving the ones you don’t use in the box, use them to decorate your Christmas dining table.

Use compostable decorations

The garden might be looking sparse at this time of year, but there is still plenty of opportunities to find greenery that you can add to your Christmas dining table. Holly and mistletoe are clear winners, and they are in plentiful supply – simply clip a few pieces when you’re on country walks, and collect pine cones.

Look for recyclable decorations

If you decide that you want a one-off table decor and that you want to buy new, then do your best to find recyclable decorations, and then make sure you recycle them according to their packaging when you’re finished. Don’t throw them all into a black sack and leave them for the next bin collection. Some recyclable decorations are also compostable, and so you can add them to the compost bin in your garden, rather than adding to the mountains that will need collecting by your local council bin collectors.

Make sure your decorations are reused

If all that isn’t possible for the tablescape you have in mind, and you know you’re only going to use your decorations once but they could be used again, donate them to charity in the new year. Many charity shops will take Christmas table decorations that have plenty of life left in them. If your local shops can’t take them, you could also consider storing them and donating them the following year to organisations that support families that are in need during the festive season.

Final Thoughts

While your Christmas dining table is an important element of the day, if something doesn’t work out perfectly, it isn’t the end of the world. Your family will remember the way your day went, their gifts, and how they felt on the day, rather than how amazing your table looked before you ate. That said, you’ll be able to enjoy your photos forever, and so it is worth putting that effort in – and if you love it, perhaps you’ll end up using the same Christmas table decoration ideas next year too. If we’ve inspired you with this post, don’t forget to tag us on your Instagram posts! We’re @bensimpsonfurniture.

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