Christmas is the time of year when we gather our favourite people, exchange gifts, share laughs and bad jokes, and eat so much we need to wear our stretchy pants before we promptly roll away from the table and fall into a food coma.
It’s also the time of year when we make an effort to dust off the dining table, find those extra chairs and prepare great food and wine for a festive feast for the family. But how do you go about dressing the table so it looks like a dream, and even grumpy old aunt Mildred is impressed?
This year when you crack the bonbons and wear those silly hats, you can do it in style. We asked Homemaker The Valley’s interior stylist Morgan Braithwaite to style the ultimate Christmas-themed table and to give us nine steps to help us recreate it at home this festive season:
1. Plan, plan, plan
"The most important aspect of a well-styled Christmas table is the planning, layout and function," Morgan says. Think about how many people will be sitting at the table, and consider whether you’ll have enough room for food platters, drinks and decorations. Don’t make it too squishy, though – no matter how close your family might be, people still need space... for more food in their bellies.
2. Go back to basics
Morgan says you can never go wrong when investing in good-quality basics such as an oversized white tablecloth, elegant dinner sets and a selection of glass vases in different shapes and sizes. Carefully consider your repetitive decorative elements to ensure that they’re making a great statement.
3. Make sure there’s only one centre of attention
…and sorry, Uncle Ted, it’s not your lame jokes. When styling, Morgan says it's important to have ONE central focal point. If it’s a small or round table, it will be one with substance. When decorating a longer and larger table, you can repeat this focal point with smaller accents along the table. Keep in mind the height and width of the focal point; you want people to be able to interact across the table without parting the floral arrangement like they’re stalking gazelle on safari.
4. Be careful with colour
A table setting is more about contrasting textures and layering items and materials than overwhelming guests with colour. Morgan emphasises that the general rule is to stick to one main colour; however, you can be adventurous with varying shades of that colour throughout the setting.
5. Incorporate neutral accents
Look for things that can be kept on display in your house year-round while still giving a luxurious, festive vibe. You can achieve this look with beautiful polished brass or gold-plated candlesticks and candle holders, and by using marble and/or black granite serving boards and platters. Then you can get bonus use out of them through the year as they won't be paired with Christmas items.
6. Add a bit of on-trend festive bling in 2015
This Christmas it’s all about adding “festive bling”, such as classic gold accents, metallic glitter and simple warm fairy lights to neutral, organic and simple Christmas table settings.
7. Go for a "relaxed luxury" vibe
You want to look fancy but without the added pressure of being too stuffy. With this Christmas table setting created at Freedom, we softened the festive bling look with Christmas-inspired foliage, glass, candles and fairy lights to bring a sophisticated yet whimsical feel to the table. We also incorporated contrasting tones by playing on the black and gold accents.
8. Have some standout pieces
Morgan says classic table setting options are endless, with items such as marble-look plates, timber trays, brass servers, linen and jute table cloths. "My favourite standout pieces this season are gold-plated or brass cutlery sets, which are especially striking when paired with black slate or granite serving boards," she explains.
9. Don’t overdo it
Less is more! The biggest mistake people make when styling their table is trying to incorporate too many different Christmas-themed items or looks. Decide on one clear theme and stick to it. Because no-one wants a table that looks like Santa Claus exploded on it.
Morgan suggests heading to Instagram, Pinterest and online stores for more festive inspiration. You can also make a free styling appointment with Morgan at Homemaker The Valley to get a few expert tips in person, to REALLY impress the relatives this year.
Homemaker The Valley