Christmas lunch is easily the most anticipated meal of the year. Whilst much of the magic is simply having your loved ones gathered in the same place, part of the fun is also transforming your table into one worthy of a celebration.
Enter: tablescaping. The word itself is a portmanteau of ‘table’ and ‘landscaping’ and refers to the art of designing and decorating a themed dining table. Despite seeming relatively modern – it was coined by television chef, Sandra Lee, almost 20 years ago – diners have actually been creating elaborate table settings since the 18th century. Back then, dinner service styles had just shifted from service à la française – when all dishes arrive at the table simultaneously – to service à la russe, which sees dishes served sequentially, thus leaving a void on the table. Hosts began to fill the gaps with opulent objects, and an elaborate visual culture was born.
Fast forward a few hundred years and extravagant tablescapes are back in vogue – as the expert party planners at Events by Quintessentially know all too well. Between them, the team has decorated hundreds of tables for all manner of events; they certainly know a thing or two about designing tables that wow. Below, they share five tips for creating the perfect festive tablescape – and do get in touch if they can be of assistance throughout the Christmas period.
1. Layer textures
‘Combining textures truly offers a feast for the eyes – and, of course, the festive period is all about shimmer and sparkle. Like foliage, incorporating natural elements can elevate a glitzy charger plate or napkin edge; try adding natural linens or twine details. When it comes to colours, don’t rely solely on red; it can be quite an overdone palate. We love a clash, so recommend a combination of pink and red; a berry or blossom pink shade can soften and humanise any wine or mulberry hues.’
2. Use seasonal foliage
‘To make your table feel fresh and festive, seasonality is a must. From holly to sprayed pinecones, if it’s wintry and evergreen, little can go wrong. Always team seasonal foliage with something fresh and scented; we like winter jasmine or sarcococca, both of which have a booming scent and delicate frost-like appeal. They work best on low-lying table arrangements.’
3. Select soft lighting
‘The key difference between a winter and summer tablescape is the light. Soft lights, often rendered redundant in the summer months, are a key starting point for any festive table. Whether you go for candelabras or a scattering of tea lights, make sure that yours are spread evenly across the table and avoid any overpopulated areas. At Events by Quintessentially, our new favourite tool is the Pooky battery-operated table lamp, which adds a sweet festive glow whether threaded down the table or arranged into clusters.’
4. Keep it functional
‘As the festive season is known for excess, you would be forgiven for building a table design that caters to style over functionality. However, let us remind you that although your home might be crowded, your tablescape doesn’t need to be. Always keep functionality in mind when building your design and considering placements – you don’t want to find candlewax dripping in your wine or pinecones catching on fire, after all.’
5. Add a little cheesy magic
‘When else can cheesy magic take centre stage if not at Christmas? Go all in with edible table decorations, musical crackers or personalised napkins; remember, you are likely to be sharing the table with your closest family and friends, so creating something with a bit more personality is always likely to go down well.’
For more advice, or to speak to Events by Quintessentially about planning your party, please contact the team on firstname.lastname@example.org