Dress up the table: Nine new ideas for a festive spread
Best in Class: You eat with your eyes so put extra effort into the Christmas dinner table
Neptune bench and table under fairy lights
Delegate the table dressing to the family member with the greatest sense of style and absolve them of kitchen duties. Instead of the traditional white Christmas see red instead with tonal colours, especially gemstone shades, with ruby red stemware, wine goblet, €5.99; water goblet, €4.99, garnet walls and amber lighting setting the table tone here at Zara Home. Each place is set with elegant bone china – porcelain bowl with silver trim border, €29.99; matching desert plate, €9.99, dinner plate, €11.99 and check side plates, €6.99 each, while decorative baubles, €11.99 for a pack of two, are suspended overhead and silver tripod legged candlesticks, €22.99 each, and taper candles are easy ideas to replicate.
Get the blues
Embrace the darkness of winter with an atmospheric setting that celebrates the season’s deep colour palette like this Vinter collection from Ikea. An indigo tablecloth that you’d think would be more suited to summer looks really inviting paired with natural sprigs of eucalyptus on the table with red side plates forming the base of the place setting. Pomegranate halves show seasonality and add crimson colour – you can also pin place-names to the halves. Here saucers are used as side plates, €4 each for the mug and saucer set; side plates, €2.50 each, play the role of dinner plates, and small serving dishes with lids, set of two, €8, are perfect for cranberry and bread sauces. Simple wine glasses, €3 each, matching water glasses, €1.25 each, and a bauble used to tie each cutlery setting together is a clever seasonal touch.
If you’re having a gang to dinner then serving a buffet-style meal may be the way to go. Ask guests to bring tureens and large serving bowls to help add visual interest, and stack plates adjacent to this charming cutlery set-up by Wilko which will only look good until everyone starts digging in. Gold and rose gold and even black flatware have all been trending but the old family silver is what will feel really good in the hand for a special Christmas dinner. If you don’t have any in your home maybe invited friends or relations might let you borrow a canteen or two? It all helps to tickle the taste buds.
Meet your greens
If you are not a fan of a more is more aesthetic then keep things really simple. A white linen runner set with silver candlesticks – the kind that can take on-trend pillar candles – and classic coupes as the only stemware, pares the whole thing back. But you do need some sense of occasion and these faux stems with their uber delicate lighting add a lovely decorative touch that can be done in minutes. These, €19.99 each at Meadows & Byrne, are not listed on its website so you’ll have to find them in-store. Their leaf shape evokes honesty, also known as the silver dollar plant and possibly a good luck charm for those you’re breaking bread with.
December 25th is the day to use the good glasses for if not then, when will they ever be dusted off? A good root around tallboys and cocktail cabinets may unearth some vintage Waterford Crystal from the 1960s and 1970s, which feels especially good in the hand, but coloured glass can also pack a visual punch. For real opulent elegance you could also invest in fine cut crystal like the Omega collection by Rogaska, about €167 for a pair of white or red wine glasses; and €91 per champagne saucer, online from UK-based Bonadea.
December 25th is a day that decanters get their moment in the sun. Put one family member in charge of opening red wines to let them breathe and decanting some into glass vessels can help dress the table. Newbridge Silverware’s new tableware collection includes this plated duck decanter, €60, as well as wine holder collars, €45 each and bottle coasters, €20 each. You may also find decanters in your local charity shop or at auction. They make a lovely hostess gift.
Battery-operated lights interwoven with tree baubles and hung above the dinner table will bathe everyone in a flattering light and create a magical first impression. Bench seating, such as the Arundel, €570, from Neptune, seen here with the Balmoral extendable oak dining table, €4,520, can accommodate more people than chairs, and sheepskins strewn atop will protect bottoms from hard surfaces. A pair of Shoreditch carvers, €440, top and tail the setting which features Fenton bone china in white, from €16 for side plates to €21 for dinner plates; but it is the golden glow of its Neve tea light holders, about €49 for a set of three that is at the heart of this setting.
Super tactile table linen feels really good to the touch and there are many options from French brand L’Objet’s richly fringed designs, €40 each and available to order through Dublin-based The Wedding Shop. Irish designer Kathryn Davey sells a simpler fringed linen napkin, €22 each, while Jennifer Slattery is selling natural-coloured linen napkins with a sewn edge and black embroidery, €78 for a set of four or €98 for six at her Benburb Street, Dublin studio, open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sundays, 2pm-5pm, between now and Christmas.
When the turkey carcass has been picked dry and the ham devoured and it’s time to serve the plum pudding consider also bringing out any formal tea or coffee sets you may have to add colour and personality to the table. Or you could invest in a new design that will become another December 25th classic. This Lucky Stars bone china from Melody Rose set riffs on Victoriana and features cobalt blue stars with a burnished 22ct gold edge. Tea cup and saucer sets cost €51; plates range from about €43-€135 and two sizes of tea pot, about €81 and €92, all ex-delivery from the UK-based brand.