Tablescaping: How To Create The Perfect Table This Christmas

In need of some Christmas interior inspo? We got you.

Or rather, the Designed Table has got you covered. The Christmas season has officially begun, and if you’re planning on hosting some friends and family this year, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got your tablescaping skills up to date.

As always, sustainability is at the forefront of the festive season – or at least it should be. When creating a tablescape, it’s paramount to use what you already have.

“I am a big fan of upcycling and making the most of what I already have in my home,” says Tara O’Connor of the Designed Table. “When it comes to entertaining, especially this time of year, it’s important to bring out all those special pieces that mean something to you personally, but you can really bring your tablescape to life and give it a whole new look by investing in a few key pieces that will make your table stand out and look fresh for the new season.

“Christmas provides a wonderful opportunity to be creative with your table, but don’t panic if you have nothing newly bought. The first thing to do is explore what you already have at home.”

Tara suggests choosing a colour scheme first, or a few key colours to add to the table. “I then decide on whether to go with floral arrangements or just add foliage with my centrepiece,” she says. “Foliage always adds a statement, and you can run to the garden for last-minute emergencies, as winter greens are perfect scattered along the centre of the table.

“Set the table the day before you entertain so it’s one job that’s done in advance. I like to start with a tablecloth, as this creates a lovely base layer for the table. If a tablecloth is not for you, a runner creates a fabulous statement along the centre of the table. You can then add depth to this with placemats and charger plates.”

Tara says that you shouldn’t over-style your table, but just add the plates you need for your first course on each place setting, as well as place names, personalised menus, and more. “Tapered candles are great for adding height to your table along with tealights in little votives,” she says.

“For place names, use foliage or fruit if you don’t want to use paper – pomegranates and a gold Sharpie are all you need. This year, we’ve collaborated with Dublin-based calligraphy and engraving artist Calligraphy by Laura to create an elegant range of place cards in white, red and green, which beautifully complement a festive tablescape for that perfect finishing touch.

“Do a simple fold with your napkins or pop them into a napkin ring. If you don’t have napkin rings, tie some Christmas ribbon and pop a sprig of eucalyptus on top. If you are eating late in the day, have lots of candles to add sparkle and glamour. And don’t forget your Christmas crackers. We all need that family picture with paper hats.”

Now that we’re all up to speed on how to create a gorgeous table for Christmas, here’s some top tips on festive entertaining.

As always, preparation is key. Tara says that you should have drinks ready for when your guests arrive… as well as pretty much everything else. Timing, she says, is everything.

“Put on a cheerful but relaxed playlist as well as low lighting,” she says. “I just use lamps in the room I am hosting in and lots of candlelight. Don’t leave guests too long without food. Have some nibbles on offer and try and sit guests within an hour of them arriving at your house.

“Set the table the day before or morning of. Light the candles as soon as guests are due to sit for dinner and not while they are sitting. A cold starter is always handy, as this can be made before and just served. Make sure you have lots of sparkling and still water on hand and delegate the job of water and wine pouring to someone. Make sure you know about any special dietary requirements, so there are no surprises on the night.”

Table dressing wise, make sure that you don’t have your flowers or candles too high, so you can still see everyone across the table. Avoid including a scented candle on the table so it doesn’t affect the food.

“If you’re hosting a cocktail party, where guests are sitting or standing throughout your living areas, you can still dress up your dining table to act as a central table for food platters or hors d’oeuvres,” says Tara. “My scallop print table cloth in red, green or navy is perfect for this. Add candlesticks of varying heights and some fresh seasonal floral arrangements down the centre of the table to really dress it up.

“For Stephen’s Day, I like to do a completely different look for my table. If I go gold or silver for Christmas, I go red and green for St Stephen’s Day. I always reuse the floral arrangements from Christmas, so normally choose ones that work for all my entertaining needs over the festive period. When it comes to New Year’s, it’s all about making your table as glamorous as possible – lots of sparkle and candlelight.”

You can find out more and learn more about the Designed Table here.