Tablescaping – 25 ways to dress your table for the holidays

1. Take Inspiration From A Tablecloth

If you're struggling to know where to start with your tablescape then a beautiful tablecloth can be a great source of inspiration. A tablecloth can really set the tone for a Christmas table, bringing a sense of occasion. Choosing a tablecloth with a central design focal running through the middle is a clever design trick that will help lead your eye to the beautiful table centerpiece.

2. Keep It Simple

Anyone who has hosted Christmas or a large dinner party knows how stressful it can be, so it's important that tablescapes are easy to put together. Luckily, you don't have to go to great lengths to create a beautiful setup. For an elegant tablescape perfect for Christmas and New Year table decor you can't go wrong with an all-white scheme with hints of sparkle.

3. Create An Elegant Tablescape With Antiques

Decorating with antiques is a lovely way to create a Christmas tablescape with unique charm. For her Christmas table decorative and antique dealer and interior designer, Daphne Dunn lines the table with a mix of vintage candlesticks in different sizes and arranges her favorite vintage vessels along the table filling them with fruit baubles and fresh flowers to match her dining room decor.

4. Create A Rustic Woodland Tablescape

Bring the outdoors in with a magical forest-themed table. Create a verdant Christmas wreath for the center by packing a metal wreath frame with damp moss and securing it with floristry wire. Gather together Christmas foliage such as pine, eucalyptus, ivy, and fern, and begin to build the wreath by layering the largest stems around the moss base to create the structure, securing each in place with floristry wire as you go. Be sure to work in the same direction.

5. Go For Playful Maximalism

For a quirky Christmas table full of personality, trade-in classic red and gold for patterns and brights. It’s an easy look to create using what you have – set the tone with a tablecloth in an ornate fabric such as this Kennet design from Morris & Co x Ben Pentreath and layer with crockery and textiles in an array of colors, shapes and textures.

6. Build Your Tablescaping Around The Centerpiece

A table centerpiece is a starting point when tablescaping. It might be that you design it to echo the patterns in your china or the color of your napkins, but it will be the focal feature of your tablescape, so you do want it to stand out.

7. Match Your Tablescape To Your Decor

Tablescapes work best if they complement their surroundings, so during the festive season, be inspired by your Christmas dining room decor to choose a colorway, materials, and china that works with the decorations throughout the rest of the space.

8. Focus Attention On Your Guests

Tablescaping, as we said above, isn't just about how the table looks, but also about how it makes your guests feel – and the best way to make them feel welcomed and special is with Christmas table gift ideas.

9. Look To Nature

‘Bringing the outdoors in at this time of year is an effective way to decorate your table,' notes Ronny De Koning, global buyer at Petersham Nurseries. 'A large vase of branches and garden foliage can look both dramatic and stylish. I like to mix these with a few decorations scattered across the table.’

10. Opt For Elegance

Enjoy a sophisticated moment without stripping back to minimalism. Part of tablescaping which is often left to the last moment is the choice of glassware and cutlery. Considering these as you would the centerpiece or lighting will make a huge difference in the overall look.

11. Choose A Color Scheme

'I like to steer clear of white plates,' muses interior designer Penny Morrison. 'Why choose something so plain when hand-painted ceramic tableware can instantly add a beautiful artisanal feel to your setup?'

12. Inject Some Personality

Tablescaping should be, purely and simply, fun. Not every occasion calls for white linens, pillar candles, and antique silverware. This Christmas, consider bringing sunshine to the table by mixing and matching colors and patterns across linens and centerpieces. 'Be unexpected. You might think that a certain tablecloth might not look good paired with certain table mats but you never know!' advises Penny Morrison. 'Sometimes the most unexpected pairings are the best so don’t be afraid to get a bit playful and creative.'

13. Make An Everlasting Impression

Dried flower arrangements are seriously having a moment right now, so look at these zeitgeist-y blooms when setting your Christmas table. ‘Over the festive season, we like to use a mixture of bud vases with dried flowers, including helichrysum, in warm jewel-like tones,' says plantswoman Kitten Grayson. 'Put larger-headed flowers like helichrysum at the neck of the vase and airy grasses dancing on top to create movement without interrupting conversation across the table.’

14. Add Some Whimsy

Whether or not you have children in your home, Christmas is the ideal time to play. Remember, 'you don’t need a lot to make a statement,' notes Georgie Evans, MD at the Wedding Present Company. 'Just consider your colors, tones, and textures for a consistent message.

15. Consider Textures

The texture is so important when it comes to creating a multi-dimensional tablescape. 'More is more!' says Penny Morrison. 'I love a maximalist approach so I always suggest using lots of accessories and layering different table linens to add different dimensions to the tablescape.' Think tactile chargers, woven placemats, and the softest linens.

16. Make It Powerful And Personal

Christmas is often about decadence, and this is a great idea for creating a festive tablescape. ‘I take inspiration from dark winter florals and rich berries and build the table from there using super cozy colors like dark forest green and burgundy,' says tastemaker Fiona Leahy.

If you're going all out, why not look towards elaborate personalization for your guests, too? 'I’m a sucker for personalization because I think it makes those around the table feel special, but also because you can often gift the personalized item to your guest to take away with them,' says Lisa Mehydene, founder of edit58.

17. Create Height

It's easy to focus so much on looking down at the table that you forget about how the table looks from afar – which is how your guests will view it as they arrive. Layering heights adds drama and a sense of occasion, even if it is only an informal gathering.

18. Play With Pattern

A pretty pattern-based look can be incredibly striking, and also add an element of personality and energy to the table. 'I love to mix and match different hand-painted ceramics to create a tablescape that really tells a story,' says Penny Morrison. 'Guests arriving at a well-prepared and welcoming table are instantly flattered that you have gone to all this trouble for them and it sets the mood and the expectancy of delicious food.'

19. Set The Scene With A Hand-Painted Tablecloth

Glamorous and fun at the same time, a hand-painted paper tablecloth in a bitter chocolate hue has that je ne sais quoi which makes French style so chic. Accessorize with bamboo cutlery, pink water glasses, and striped blush napkins with a fancy frill trim for the most elegant candle-lit soiree.

20. Hand-Paint Place Cards

Pink and bitter chocolate make a heavenly pairing when choosing color palettes for a celebratory dinner – the combination feels both fun and sophisticated at the same time. And hand-painted drink cards by Chiara Perano make a beautiful alternative to a place name card. Guests can choose to sit where their aperitif of choice has been placed.

21. Set The Bar With Chic Linen Napkins

Choose linen napkins for your place settings. Here the Adam Lippes Coquille dinner plate is teamed with Esio tortoiseshell cutlery from Oka. Loosely tie rope or yarn around your napkin with a seasonal flower – it makes an effortlessly graceful napkin holder.

22. Glow Up With Candles

Layer a wool runner over a linen tablecloth to create an inviting and informal setting, with relaxed arrangements of seasonal flowers. Simple brass candlesticks ensure a refined finish. The Emily linen tablecloth in Peat, Heddon brass candlesticks, and Coleridge Olive dinner candles are all Neptune.

23. Work With The Season

Tablescaping is a year-round activity, and it's a delight to create different looks to work with the various seasons, occasions, and holidays. Summer tables can be especially enjoyable as there's such an abundance of natural beauties at your fingertips.

24. Make It Monochrome

Color is of course wonderful, but it's not for everyone or for every occasion. Monochrome tablescaping can be incredibly chic and contemporary if done carefully. One of the key things is to remember that monochrome can absolutely include neutrals. By widening your perception of what can be included, you'll find the look becomes a lot softer and fresher. Embrace natural materials here, as they provide a warm and neutral base for any monochromatic accessories such as linens or glassware.

25. Make Everyday Special

The most important thing to know about tablescaping? It doesn't have to be saved for special occasions. Just like that dress hanging in your wardrobe, why not dress up your table for everyday use - you'll find it brings a smile to your face, and make you appreciate every meal more.

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