Prepare early for the great festive feed

When it gets to Christmas Day – once all the gifts have been given and unwrapped, everyone's attention turns to lunch. If you're hosting the dinner this year, try to do as much preparation as you can in advance – unless you're planning to eat at midnight.

As well as peeling veg and stuffing your turkey, you could also set the table the night before. You will probably be catering for larger numbers than normal, so having a dining table which can cope is always useful.

Something elegant like the Seville table from Barker and Stonehouse, which extends at each end is ideal, boosting the numbers you are able to seat from six, to eight, or even 10. It is beautifully crafted from solid oak, and is opulent enough for special dining occasions like Christmas, but its rustic charm is also perfect for more casual, day-to-day dining. You might also be thinking of investing in a couple of extra dining chairs. Go for styles which either match or at least complement the ones you already have. Or for a twist you could have mismatching chairs.

Christmas is the one occasion each year when your dining table should sparkle. So go for all out glamour, and really dress your table to the nines.

Polish up your best crockery and glassware, get out your finest linen tablecloth and start planning.

My advice would be to go for simple, classic tableware. Tableware isn't just for Christmas… so choose a good, white linen tablecloth, white crockery – perhaps with a single colour detail, such as a blue stripe – classic glassware and cutlery.

If that sounds dull and a bit totalitarian, you can create a more individual style by looking for slightly unusual glassware designs. Something like the Anton range from Barker and Stonehouse. The Anton range is simple, yet grand. Their hand-made wine glasses have a pillar-like stem, and flat disc foot, which contrasts beautifully with the curved bowl. The thing is that if you have classic basics, you will be able to use them year in, year out for every occasion throughout the year – they will be perfect for a dinner party with friends, or if you're tucking into a TV meal for one. Those neutral, classic basics then form the blank canvass onto which you can create your individual look for this year's Christmas lunch. So let the fun begin – go wild with a riot of colour or create a monochrome theme – whatever takes your fancy.

YP MAG 18/12/10