Good table manners
Ready, set, go - get your table exactly the way you want it this festive season, writes Jo Linehan
The lead-up to the festive season must be both one of the most fun and the most overwhelming times of the year, especially if you count yourself as a top-notch host. But whether you take joy in welcoming visitors to your table or have the privilege thrust upon you, a great table setting is one thing you can take pleasure in planning and executing.
This season, trend-wise, everything goes. Noir is having a moment, the traditional gold, red and silver are available aplenty, and the pared-back rustic, less-is-more vibe is certainly here to stay. So, the real question is, what do you fancy?
There are a few basic rules to remember, says food stylist and photographer Jette Verdi, She is used to dressing tables for every occasion, and knows a thing or two about creating an inviting environment.
"I tell everyone to choose two colours and stick to them. For me, more really isn't more - it can all get a little too much at this time of the year. I love an element of life in a table setting, so incorporating natural greenery and herbs instead of flowers is always my go-to. It also gives a beautiful smell, so it's a double-jobbing element."
And on the topic of greenery and florals, centrepieces this season are delighting in eucalyptus and orange berries instead of the traditional red. The Crate duo Steph Hutch and Claire Ryan, who specialise in all things floral, recommend mixing and matching flowers as you see fit. "For table settings, we have a great stock of different vessels for our flowers that come from amazing charity shop finds. Sourcing a few unusual vases or jars is a great place to begin building your table styling around."
Short on time? The pair say: "Quick and little styling touches can add so much to a table - wrap a floral sprig with dried lavender and foliage for each place setting to give guests something to take home at the end of the evening."
Sharon Griffin, creative director of the award-winning Frog Prince Wedding and Event Styling, says the key to success in table-scaping is in the personal touches: "Creating a magical setting is about layering and personalising, letting every guest know it's a special occasion and they are cared for.
"Lighting is so important too. Add candles at different heights - low tea lights, small and tall pillar candles and thin taper candles. Personally, I don't think less is more; my 'less is use' interpretation is to use more of the same items - not 20 different types of accessories on the table."
If you're still baffled by colour palettes and choices, think in textures. Linen has come back in a big way, whether used in a table runner, tablecloth or napkins - just make sure you give yourself enough time to iron or steam at least some of the wrinkles away. Festive settings always call for a little sparkle, so if glitter isn't your thing, look to copper bowls or gold charger plates for that special element. Glassware is so important - treat yourself to a new set of oversized gin goblets or one big and beautiful decanter that can act as the centrepiece for the table.
Whether you have weeks to plan or just a 10-minute scramble before your guests arrive, let this be the year you remember as your table's best dressed.