FESTIVE TABLESCAPING: AN EXPERT GUIDE

If there’s any time of year when you can up the decorating ante it’s Christmas and beyond a traditional tree, tablescaping is a fabulous opportunity to make things even more magical. With that in mind, we asked The House Directory members for all their expert tips and tricks so you can transform your holiday table into a veritable visual feast.


Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company: 

“Christmas is the perfect time to make the table look extra special and to add just a touch of sparkle. Every year I decorate slightly differently as I will have found a new image or discovered something gorgeous that’s inspired me.

The White Company - festive tablescape
IMAGE: Pre-Lit Ultimate Pinecone Garland, from £95, Pre-Lit Ultimate Pinecone Wreath, £45
Sparkle Linen Tablecloth, £135, Sparkle Linen Napkins £45 for 4, Ribbed Baubles, £15 for 4, Portobello 12 Piece Dinner Set, £150, Seagrass Scalloped Placemats £14, Portobello Scalloped Bowls £28 for 2, Skye Optic Balloon Glasses £46 for 4, Compton Wine Glasses £38 for 4, Hampton Serving Platter, £60, Rowley Dinner Candle Holder, £18, Thurlton Handmade Small Glass Candlestick Holders £40 for 2, Barton Trug, £130, Glazed Bud Vase, £15, Christmas Wrap from £16, Christmas Ribbon from £15, Kinsey Toasting Flutes £38 for 4, Cartmel Rattan Side Table, £345 all The White Company.

For Christmas this year, I’ll be using our Sparkle Linen tablecloth and napkins. Then I’ll layer on Seagrass Scalloped place mats, which are fantastic for adding texture and making a setting look really elevated. They’re also the perfect foil for classic white china, such as our Portobello dinner set and weighty silver cutlery. The napkins sit on top and I’ll tuck in a sprig of rosemary or pine, which enhances the festive feel with beautiful fragrance. Sometimes I include a small decoration, a gift or a little soft toy for children and I also use name cards for each guest as it’s a lovely personal touch. After that I add in our elegant glassware, which will sparkle when paired with candlelight. Choose different height candle holders and dot them down the centre of the table for a magical effect.

Foliage is really key and I often a mix fresh ivy, eucalyptus and pine gathered from the garden with faux greenery. If your table isn’t huge, you can always tie bunches of foliage to the corners of the table along with some well-chosen baubles or you can even add greenery to the back of your chairs. A mantlepiece offers a great opportunity to create a lush garland that can be lit with pretty fairy lights and chairs and benches are extra comfy if you dress them with cosy sheepskins or soft wool throws.

I’m a great believer in not holding back when it comes to sharing jobs. Dressing the table can become a tradition and a lovely activity to do as a family. Nobody will really mind as it’s actually a lot of fun.”

thewhitecompany.com


Birdie Fortescue:

“This year I’ve opted for the classic colour scheme of red and green but with a unique twist, as I’ve included our Cotton Mache vases. These are handcrafted from 100% recycled cotton from the fashion industry, so are a sustainable choice and make a fun change from glass or ceramic. I opt for loose arrangements, nothing too fussy or formal. Sprigs of holly along the centre of a table are always effective and require minimal effort or vases of foraged foliage mixed in with some pretty white flowers works well.

Birdie Fortescue 2

Sometimes with a Christmas table you can overdo it, so I find simple glassware and cutlery paired with off white plates and dishes allows décor and the food to make the statement. This scalloped tableware is designed by the talented shopatseed and is the perfect example of a pared back design that’s still interesting to look at. A beautiful tablecloth is also a must and our Bel design is a timeless choice. I love to pair the coordinating napkins with our Carmine Red jute placemats, which add texture and depth and are the perfect colour for Christmas. Candlelight is magical at this time of year, so I add candlesticks in varying heights and colours arranged asymmetrically down the table. If you’re looking to make things really special, small gifts on each place setting can be a thoughtful touch and a lovely surprise for guests.

If we’re hosting friends and family who haven’t seen each other for a while, I add place names as I think it’s nice to seat guests next to each other who I know are due a good catch up! But overall, everyone is there to enjoy themselves and to see you, so don’t overthink it.”

birdiefortescue.co.uk

Birdie Fortescue Tablescape
IMAGE: Twisted Candlesticks, from £30, Cotton Mache Vase, from £30, Bel Tablecloth, from £125, Bel Napkins, from £10, Round Jute Placemats, from £12, Pencil Cut Glasses, from £10, Wensum Dining Chairs, £395 each all Birdie Fortescue

 


Penny Morrison:

“I tend to stray away from typical Christmas colours so this year I’ll be using soft shades of cinnamon, pink and turquoise. I always include natural elements on my table and these colours will work wonderfully with the greenery. The best decorations are found in nature so I like to forage for my foliage and at Christmas, I use holly and sprigs of pine as well as lots of fresh flowers, which I display in patterned jugs and vases in different sizes. I always think the fuller the table the better as it makes everything feel more inviting when you sit down to enjoy delicious food with friends and family.

Penny Morrison Tablescape
IMAGE: Large Green Palm Tree Ceramic Plates £75.60, Colombian String Table Mats, £31.06, Simla Border Pink and Brown Napkins £76.24 for 4, Confetti Murano Glass Tumblers £30.49 all Penny Morrison. All other items Penny’s own. Penny Morrison

We recently released our Palm Tree ceramic collection and I’ve been so excited to use it for Christmas dinner. I also like to match my glassware if I can. Our Confetti Murano tumblers are ideal as they’ll add another splash of vibrancy.  When it comes to the tablecloth, my thoughts are the larger the pattern the better! Place mats add another layer of interest and if you have fun salt and peppers shakers, pop those on the table too, along with tall candles and a smattering of votives. In the evening, candles and lamps dotted around the dining room will create a cosy atmosphere rather than using strong overhead lighting.

I like to do a seating plan. It’s part of the fun to sit people together who you think will make good conversation. The main thing is to be bold and enjoy yourself – it is Christmas after all!”

pennymorrison.com


 

Danielle Le Vaillant, Head of Styling, Cox & Cox:

“At Christmas, a table needs to feel a little bit special, but it’s always a good idea to consider what will work in your space. Although a large, rectangular table could be filled with a long garland for example, a smaller table design may benefit from a hanging display, which will maximise the dining area for guests and is a great solution if you’re looking to make a room feel more magical. We used our pre-lit hanging ornaments for ease.

Cox & Cox Tablescape
IMAGE: Round Chevron Oak Dining Table, £825,  Raw Oak Bow Back Dining Chairs, £350 eachOversized Light Up Glass Drop £22, Light Up Wooden Stars £50 for 2, Light Up Wooden Stars £50 for 2, The Ultimate Light Up Naked Wire Tree from £225White & Natural Striped Baskets, £85 for 3, Indoor Outdoor Naked Wire Twinkle Cluster Lights £50, Linen Square Cushion in Soft Grey and Dusky Rose and Slate Grey, £35 each, New Zealand Sheepskin Seat Pad in Oyster £60,  Large Sidi Rug,  £795 all Cox & Cox

If space is limited, decorative dinnerware can make a real statement. You can’t go wrong with a classic white, so we’ve styled the table with our Ruffled Serving Platters, which have a really elegant look, as does the fluted glassware. We’ve also added wrapped gifts on top of the napkins as it’s lovely for everyone to have a special little treat.

Candles can also be tricky on a smaller surface or if there are likely to be children at the table, but an alternative solution is to choose a decoration such as our Light Up Brush Trees Centrepiece, which creates a wonderful atmosphere with minimal effort.  One of our Christmas themes this year is Scandi Sparkle so to create that Scandi feel we also used gorgeous fluffy sheepskins on the chairs for extra cosiness.”

coxandcox.co.uk

Cox & Cox 2
IMAGE: Light Up Brush Trees Table Centrepiece £38, Ribbed Tumblers, £40 for 4, Ribbed Wine Glasses, £55 for 4, Ruffled Serving Platter £25, Linen Napkins, £50 for 4, Copper Miniature Stars Wrapping Paper, £14.50 for 10m, Charcoal Voile Wired Ribbon, £16.50 all Cox & Cox

 


Sue Jones, Creative Director and Co-Founder, OKA

“I like to decorate my dining table differently for each meal throughout the festive period. The basis doesn’t change too much, but I’ll alter the colours, the napkins or other decorative pieces for each event from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day and Boxing Day. As well as traditional palettes, I include colours that aren’t necessarily classic but still feel festive. Jewel tones are great for adding glamour and I love how they look when paired with more rustic textures.

OKA Tablescape

Table decorations that really stand out such as faux berries, lots of marble, linen and tortoiseshell will all add contrast. Don’t feel everything has to stay on the surface; if you have room, why not create a display above your dining space? Use fairy lights, foliage or some big paper baubles in colours that complement the tablescape. Lighting wise, everyone and everything looks better by candlelight and I love OKA’s LED candles as they’re much safer to use with all that paper about. Our Glass Hurricane Lamps filled with big pillar candles add a real sense of drama.

OKA Tablescape
Isphahan Large Porcelain Dinner Plates, £495 for 4, Isphahan Porcelain Dinner Plates, £295 for 4, Isphahan Small Deep Bowl, £125, Large Twisted Wine Glasses, £35 for 4, Tall Twisted Tumblers, £35 for 4, Machame Napkins, £70 for 4, Medium Glass Hurricane Lamp, £50, Faux Red Berry Branch, £20, Themis Marble Bowl, £175, Nura Candle Holders, £40 for 2, Esio 28-Piece Faux Tortoiseshell Cutlery Set, £295, Extra Large Honeycomb Bauble Decoration, £45, Large Honeycomb Bauble Decoration, £35 all OKA

The secret to setting a table is layering. If you’re not using a tablecloth or placemat, start with a charger plate at each setting as this will look wonderful and also help protect your table from heat. When it comes to tableware, I have a real soft spot for our Isphahan Range, which brings a real sense of occasion and the blue, red and green design means it pairs so well with other colours. I usually have a mix of generations at my Christmas dinner, which means that everybody is drinking something different. Our Twisted Glassware is simple and elegant and comes in a range of styles, so that whatever people’s tipple of choice the table still feels cohesive. If you have the time, tying ribbon around the stems of the wine glasses is a nice touch.”

oka.com


We hope The House Directory‘s seasoned experts have provided you with an inspiring introduction to the art of tablescaping for special occasions. Have you seen a top tip to try out for your own table décor? From how to dress various shapes of dinner tables to suggestions for table linen and place settings, there’s plenty of room to inject your personal style and preferred colour palette to create a beautiful tablescape. For more inspiration, read our previous festive blogs here.


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