The festive season often presents a few challenges and none greater than the Christmas table. In theory it should look knock-out for the biggest feast of the year but that is hard to achieve when space is a major issue.
The trimmings often get in the way of the food or vice versa, so less is often more when it comes to decorating. One of my best tips is to use a tea trolley, a la Mrs Overall in TVs Acorn Antiques. Trim it up with tinsel to add to its kitsch appeal and use it to hold the veg., the sauces, the gravy and other condiments. Pass them round and then put them back out of the way on the trolley. You could use a small table for the same effect.
This leaves the dining table free for decorations, plates, glasses, cutlery and crackers. Starting with the table top, a runner always looks good. This year I’m planning to top my green runner with white paper snowflakes. It’s a project I spotted on the Hobbycraft blog. All you need is paper, scissors and sticky tape. Snip the snowflake shapes and stick together. Or, for a quick fix, you could sprinkle scatter decorations on your table. Craft shops will stock these as do www.talkingtables.co.uk, which has bags of tiny snowflakes for £3.
Keep the centrepiece simple and be careful that it doesn’t block the view and make conversation and cracker pulling difficult. Candelabras decked with ivy and tiny baubles work well, as does a row of single candle sticks. Or use a bowl filled with greenery, pine cones and a single church candle or mandarins decorated with cloves. A long, narrow planter filled with greenery, berries and candles also looks great. If you are worried about fire risk use battery operated candles. Lakeland has six for £14.88, www.lakeland.co.uk
Crockery is best kept simple. Food always looks best in white plates, though you could add some festive touches. Mulberry Hall in York has a great choice, including Emma Bridgewater’s Christmas ranges. If you are on a budget try Sainsbury’s. The supermarket has some lovely bowls decorated with a single robin that are perfect for serving pudding.
Place names are a good idea to avoid a scrum and indecision. You can write them out on small cards and attach to the napkin with florist wire, ivy and a tree chocolate. Or simply attach a name card to a cracker. I love the Merry, Happy and Joyful paper cups, pictured here, £2 for eight, from www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk. They are ideal for children and you could make your own versions. Label with their name and fill with gifts and edible treats.
And don’t forget the chairs. Ribbons are the obvious choice or tie on a small wreath.