How to Take the Stress Out of Decorating the Christmas Table

It happens to me every year. I make elaborate plans for decorating the Christmas table, only to fall down at the last hurdle. There’s just too much going on with family milling about, the dinner in the oven, gifts to unwrap and yes, prosecco to drink. Is it any wonder that the last thing on our minds is making the table look beautiful. Especially when we know it will be demolished within 10 minutes. Don’t be fooled by those Insta perfect tables you see on our favourite app either. Those were probably created in November just for photographs. With not a sticky finger or wagging tail in sight no wonder they look stunning, but let me tell you, no food ever reaches those tables! So this post is for me, as much as you. I just hope I can remember these tips after a few tipples.

Image Credit: Christmas Linen Tablecloth from Chalk Pink Linen Company.

Keep it Simple

No one has time to fashion elaborate napkins shaped like Christmas trees when under time pressure. Well, you could make them in advance. Well in advance. But as long as the napkins are clean no one else will notice anyway. And save the home-made table centres for another time. Or another life. A simple garland down the centre will be as festive as you really need. Once you add sparkly glasses, polished cutlery and a few candles it will look amazing anyway.

How to Take the Stress Out of Decorating the Christmas Table

Image Credit: Montecarlo White Napkin from The Fine Cotton Company.

Plan Ahead

If you really do have your heart set on elaborate napkin shapes and home-made table centres, for heavens sake do it in advance. You could even do a trial run, take photo’s and then task someone else with laying it all out for you while you baste the potatoes. Why on earth do we not delegate more anyway? You just have to remember where you put that box of table decorations when the time comes. 

How to Take the Stress Out of Decorating the Christmas Table

Image Credit: Christmas Houseplants from Dobbies Garden Centres.

Go Faux

This applies to both of the tips above. If you plan to keep it simple, or if you plan to do everything in advance, go faux. There are some gorgeous faux table centres and garlands in the shops and many are so realistic the kids at least won’t know the difference. There’s nothing worse than wilting eucalyptus and shedding fir branches just at the moment you want them to look freshly cut and sensational. The other advantage of faux is that it will last for the entire holiday season and can be used again year after year. Don’t like faux? Put your favourite houseplants into festive holders and dot them down the table instead.

How to Take the Stress Out of Decorating the Christmas Table

Image Credit: Wild Wonderland Theme Christmas Dining Table Setting from Poundland.

Candles are a Must

Even the simplest of table settings need candles. I actually think you can’t have too many. They make every dinner atmospheric and an occasion, whether you go for pillar candles (which don’t even need holders as they stand up by themselves) or tapered candles. Vary the heights if you can and run them randomly down the centre of the table for the biggest effect. Just don’t leave them alight when you leave the room, and especially not with children around. Don’t like the idea of a live flame? LED candles are a fantastic second best.

How to Take the Stress Out of Decorating the Christmas Table

Image Credit: Franklin Oak Dining Table, Bench And Flint Chairs from Furniture And Choice.

Ditch the Tablecloth

There’s no rule that says you have to have a tablecloth. Even on Christmas day. All of that washing and ironing is not worth the hassle. Especially when you need one for every day of the holiday. And especially when not much of the table is visible anyway once laid with everything else. Sprinkle a few stars about instead. Or some extra greenery. Or even mixed nuts and fruit for after dinner munching. If you really must have some fabric on the table, make it a runner. That way it’s less likely to get splashed with gravy or red wine.


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  1. Reply


    December 2, 2021

    Hi Carole,
    Please can you tell me where the cutlery from the 2nd image (with the Montecarlo White Napkin from The Fine Cotton Company) comes from?

    • Reply


      December 2, 2021

      Hi Hannah, I’m afraid I don’t know. You could try asking The Fine Cotton Company but quite often you’ll find it’s ‘stylist’s own’


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