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A Pro’s Guide to Christmas Table Setting For the Festive Season

The Christmas tree is up, the dinner menu is set. Now, it’s time to update your classic holiday dinner table with these expert Christmas table decorating tips.

A beautiful Christmas table setting is a crucial element of entertaining during the holiday season. Forget Christmas kitsch like red table cloths, candy canes and traditional winter wonderland decorations, and wow your guests with something modern and memorable, to match the delicious food and drinks you’re serving up.

Wondering what are some ways you can properly set a table for Christmas? We asked Frith Hucks, Styling Director at Rainy Sunday, a renowned creative styling studio in Sydney, for her expert advice on elevating your Christmas table decorations.

Be creative with your colour palette

Christmas is the perfect time to get on board the tablescaping trend and express your own unique style. Anything goes, according to Frith.

“Gone are the days of Christmas holly and a red, green and gold colour palette,” she says. You still need cohesive layering with your colour scheme though. To achieve this, Frith suggests starting with one key feature for your Christmas table setting and building your ideas around it, “That way it won’t look like a mish mash of random pieces.”

What is a good fine dining table setting inspiration? Coastal blues and turquoise, burnished berry with gold accents, and rustic shades of green (think native flora) are all hot home decorating colours this holiday season.

Take the less is more approach for the Christmas table

To make an impact with an easy Christmas table setting, Frith advises doing a couple of decorative features well, rather than trying to do lots of everything.

“I often make a real show of the Christmas crackers,” she says. “They can give an untraditional Christmas table a traditional twist and there are lots of plastic free, sustainable options these days. This year I’m making nests of tulle for my crackers to sit on.”

Don’t forget, the primary role of Christmas table decorations is to showcase all the festive food and drinks. So, when planning Christmas table setting ideas, remember your glassware.

“Last year it was all about candles, this year glassware is having its moment in the sun. Colour is in, interesting shapes are in,” says Frith. “And don’t be afraid to mix and match with your old favourites, there are no rules that says everything has to be the same.”

Stemless wine glasses look cool alongside some classic glasses, while jewel tone goblets and embossed tumblers help to make a real statement.

Champagne buckets filled with bottles of Pol Roger,  Chandon Brut and pastel hued Ch Sainte Roseline will create a sense of celebration, while simple flower arrangements and candle holders will add to the visual appeal of your Christmas table decorations.

You can also set up a separate festive drinks station on the side if you’re planning to serve cocktails. Try showing off premium spirits such as Hendricks Midsummer Solstice and Ciroc Vodka ‒ as much for their taste as the elegance of the bottles ‒ paired with a stylish mixology set and attractively bottled craft mixers like the colourful range from Fever Tree.

Opt for natural Christmas table ideas  

“Bringing the outside in” is a popular theme this festive season that calls for DIY Christmas table decorations.

“Australian natives are lovely to use on the Christmas table because they smell so nice,” says Frith. “They’re also very hardy, so will look great for the whole day.”

Weave scented eucalyptus branches with bright splashes of colour and texture from waratah flowers, banksia and bottlebrush, to make a living Christmas table runner or centrepiece. Then wrap your napkins with jute, sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme (which you can easily pick up from the grocery store) and a personalised note for each guest.

“Also, don’t be scared to use food for styling,” says Frith. “I’ve been known to style the Christmas table with an edible feast of gold foil chocolates and cherries.”

A classic holiday dining table should be groaning with food and drinks, so a good hack to work your Christmas decorations in if you’re short on space is to use different heights – place some of the dishes on raised platforms like cake stands, so you can add styling touches underneath, from pomegranates to pine cones, strawberries and flowers.

Just remember, the golden rule of paring back and keeping it subtle and classy when it comes to contemporary Christmas table setting. And, with a little bit of imagination, your Christmas dinner will be memorable for all the right reasons.