Thursday, 12 November 2009

How to decorate your Christmas table

A smartly laid table can have just as much impact on your guests as the food you serve up. Escape the heat of the kitchen and follow expert advice to create a striking setting for the most important meal of the year.

1. Strong foundations

Restaurant designer David Rockwell says ‘I like a crowded table because it feels celebratory and like a cornucopia. I'm not a fan of tablecloths – unless you are on holiday. I prefer to use a table runner and great mats instead.’ This cut–out felt runner from Cargo highlights the natural finish of a wooden table for a retro look. Pair with simple white plates to complete the festive feel and accessorise with napkins and place mats.

2. Get personal

Make your guests feel at home by adding personalised touches to the table, like place cards and home–made crackers filled with thoughtful goodies. This Ruby Range from Marks & Spencer makes the job easy. Then create some mischief by arranging guests to spark off conversation, friendship – or even a little romance...

3. Plate up

Polly Dickens, creative director at The Conran Shop, recommends choreographed disorder for the crockery, ‘Make sure it’s glamorous but not formal – the best looks are mixed together.’ These glossy red lacquer underplates from Debenhams will add some festive glam and make a striking contrast to your chinaware.

4. Get the edge

Polish, polish and polish some more! Your cutlery should shine like Rudolph’s nose. Make sure you've got enough for the big feast. Stock up on simple but durable designs like this Marseilles set from Dibor.

5. Stay fresh

Bring in the garden for natural Christmas chic. ‘Cluster small blooms in a handful of mini vases, or put one at each place setting. For a splashy look, fill lofty, narrow vessels with towering stalks or leafy branches that spread upward,’ advises Marion McEvoy, former editor-in-chief of US Elle D├ęcor.

6. Set the mood

Scatter tealights around place settings to add a warm glow to your festivities. These pretty beaded tealight holders from Graham & Green will make the light dance across the table. Cheap and chic.

7. The little extras

 Decant sauces, preserves and brandy butter in pretty dishes like this leaf bowl and spoon from Crocus. They'll add another layer of interest to your table top and create the look of a truly decadent feast.

8. Crowning glory

The centerpiece of the table should express your creativity. ‘Make glorious piles of golden fruit, biscuits, cinnamon and goodies on a tiered platter,’ suggests Priscilla Carluccio, owner of award–winning store Few and Far. Tina Tsang’s Blaue Blume cake stand is a design must–have. Fill it with edible treats and nostalgic childhood decorations.

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