One of most sage pieces of culinary advice we’ve ever been given – and one that anyone who finds themselves designated cook on Christmas Day will surely benefit from – is to lay the table first, before the cooking begins in earnest. That way, by the time you’ve sploshed bread sauce down your clothes and your hair is a frazzled mess – and crucially before the moment hits when ready to throw up your spatulas and spoons as you gasp for a sherry – you can somehow pull back some calm serenity in the knowledge that everything looks the part. On the table at least.
Here are just a few suggestions for creating a merry table. Our very top tip of all? Make it a Christmas Eve job to gather some tendrils of ivy on your winter walk and then simply scatter across the table – free, easy and festive.
By Nancy Alsop
Updated December 2021
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At Christmas, we’re firmly of the more-is-more mentality. While don’t go as quite far as to tip over into novelty crockery, we do nonetheless find ourselves gravitating towards festive plates and serving dishes – whether overtly Christmassy, in festive reds, greens or golds or hand painted in wintry tones. These are just a few on our wish list.
Exclusive Brights Side Plate Red, £25
Etoile Dessert Plate, £95
Mistletoe 1 Pint Sauce Boat and Stand, £55
Enamel Small Jug Red, £22
Sol Statement Bowls, Set of 3, £295
Cardinal Flower Plate, £120
Gravy Boat, £38
Gold Toast & Marmalade Smoked Salmon 8 1/2 Inch Plate, £22.95
Tom Bowl on Stand, Large, £265
Sara Miller London Frosted Pines Serving Plate, £18
Handmade Extra Large Bowl, £455
How often do you dress your table with the full complement of fancy accoutrements? For us, it’s almost never. But on Christmas Day, it feels like a wonderfully ceremonious to bring out the proper linen napkins and placemats, and to throw a cloth over the table – an easy and completely transformative act. Here are few ideas for festive inspiration.
Table Cloth, £70
Stripy Bea Napkin Ring, Set of 2, £50
Falling Stars Linen Tablecloth With Gold Stars, £625
Tarifa Tablecloth, Napkin & Tote Bag Set Red, £195
Sparkle Cotton Mix Rectangular Tablecloth, Red/Gold, £25 – £30
Chilewich Pressed Vinyl Dahlia Round Placemat, £15
Stripe Linen Table Cloth In Gold And Silver, £695
Cuero Round Placemat, £19
Soleil Cord Napkin Rings, Set of 8, £32
Square Napkin Red, £7
Scallop Trim Linen Napkins, Set of 4, £65
For those who have inherited beloved sets of family heirloom cutlery, it is a joyful thing to bring them out and be reminded of beloved forebears. For those who do not have such bequests stored safely away, there are a host of beautiful sets that will cheer up any Christmas table.
6 Dinner Knives, £64
Duna 24 Piece Cutlery Set - Matt Gold, £306
Christofle Mood Cutlery Egg, Set of 24 Silver Plated, £1,890
English Silver Plate 6 Piece Cutlery Set, £179
Mami Cutlery Set 5 Pieces, £47
16 Piece Cutlery Set – Ivory, £95
Stonewashed Cutlery Collection, from £10
If, like most of us, you save your finest vintages for Christmas Day, it stands to reason that you’ll also be in need of some suitably stellar glasses, carafes and decanters – no matter your tipple of choice. Ensure the glass is sparkly and squeaky clean, and nothing with look more alluring lit up by candlelight.
Avery Prosecco Glasses, Set of Four, £39
Diamond Decanter, £295
Luca Carafe, £60
Hand-Blown Crystal Glass Carafe, £130
Set Of Four Champagne Flutes With Stars Design, £55
Red Bobble Jug With Gold Handle, £155
Cut Glass Tumber, Garnet Red, £12
Fia Carafe Amber, £65
Mario Luca Giusti Milly Acrylic Tumbler, £20
Isla Fluted Champagne Coupe, Set of 2, £36
Giardino Hand Etched Wine Glasses, Set of 6, £79
Flute Red Wine Glass, £18
Sherry, red wine, champagne: for us, the ideal triumvirate of Christmas Day drinks. If you’re in the market for the latter – and indeed, nothing cheers up a table, or guests, better than the promise of a good bottle of fizz – then you’ll be in need of an ice bucket. Deliver instant glamour to your Christmas Day repast with these beauties.
Candlelight is a sure-fire route to creating atmosphere, plus being bathed in its flickering warm light is flattering to all. It also happens to make the whole house smell delicious. These are the wicks and candelabras we’ll be scattering across our tables this year.