Christmas holidays table

Step-by-step: Finesse Your Festive Dining Table

Christmas dinner is, arguably, the best meal of the year. Other than weddings, I know of not one other occasion for which so much planning and preparation is required.

People up and down the country have been stocking their “Christmas cupboard” for weeks leading up to the big day, wielding off prying family members with threats of coal in their stockings. And, with so many tempting treats and indulgent dishes to be spectacularly displayed, there is a real art to getting the table décor just right.

They say you feast with your eyes before you savour with your mouth. So, here are my top tips to finesse your festive dining table:

Colour palettes

As with your Christmas tree and mantel décor, if the dining table is in the vicinity, you’re going to want to match or complement your existing colours and themes. Otherwise, you have complete creative license.

Here’s a few of my favourite table displays for inspiration:

Traditional Christmas table layout

Traditional Treat

Red, green, and white are traditional Christmas colours, which can easily be incorporated into the dinner table. Pack a punch with red linens and ribbons, while adding garlands and sprigs of fir to bring a festive feel to the table. White crockery will cut through the colour palette while bringing back childhood memories of snow-laden branches.

Christmas cutlery with little present

Sparkle and Shine

If you’re tight on time, or budget, this one’s for you. Give your celebrations a splash of sparkle with a packet of star-shaped scatter sequins, while keeping the remainder of the table relatively plain in white or neutral-coloured linens. You can use any unused rosemary left over from Christmas dinner to add a sweet-smelling foliage to the table.

Golden Christmas table setting

Golden Wonder

Ideal for the minimalist, white and gold conjures thoughts of angels, stars, and wise men bearing gifts, while not being overbearing. Gold baubles in a range of sizes, textures, and finishes add the perfect contrast to flourishes of fir, spray painted nut shells, and wooden wreaths. Of course, the look can be pulled together with more gold, if you like a little more glamour; consider cutlery, chalices, candlestick holders, and napkin rings in golden hues, for example.

Rustic Christmas table decorations

Rustic and Romantic

This look captures the sense of staring out of a window into a snowy forest. Neutral coloured linen adorned with natural materials, such as log slice coasters and pinecones, brings the outside in. Simple tea lights and small church candles add a humble sparkle and flicker of romance.

Bright and vibrant Christmas table spread

Merry and Bright

For those of you who walk to the beat of their own drum, there’s nothing to say that a table filled with brightly-coloured linens, floral arrangements, stained glasses, and ceramic vases can’t be Christmassy. Go whole-hog with exotic flowers and palm fronds instead of holly and ivy.

Christmas plate and cutlery

The secret hack you need to know

The trick to having a dinner table that is highly photographable, is using contrasting and complementary colours, and using accents to highlight the best features. 

Take the above image as an example:

  1. The neutral background is the base to show off the place setting. Whether you have a wooden, marble, or synthetic tabletop, work with it not against it or opt for a linen in a colour of your choice.
  2. A red charger plate provides contrast against the white tabletop and provides a vibrant cushion for the bright white crockery. The general rule of thumb is to place a deeper hue on a lighter tabletop, and vice versa. 
  3. Match your napkin to either the charging plate or the table linen.
  4. Now it’s time to add your accents. In the sample above, green foliage is used as a complementary colour accent, with the gold ribbon and beads adding a little extra festive shimmer. If you’re not sure what your complementary colour should be, look at the colour opposite yours on this colour wheel.
  5. If you’re not confident in layering or positioning, keep everything central for a neat, uniform look. You can read more below.
Neatly arranged Christmas cutlery set

Everything has its place

If place setting isn’t your forte, here is a go-to recipe for a show-stopping Christmas table.

  1. Lay your linen on the table.
  2. Scatter any sequins first, so you get an even spread. Once you start placing crockery, it becomes tricky to scatter sequins without creating clusters.
  3. If you have charger plates, put one on the table in front of each chair, then pop your plate on top. Otherwise, place your crockery straight onto the table.
  4. Imagine your plate were a clock; your water or wine glasses should sit on the table at 1 o clock. 
  5. Fold your square napkins in half. Fold the shorter edges in towards the middle of the napkin until it is about 2.5 inches / 5cm wide. 
  6. Put the napkin on the centre of the plate, the shorter edges at 12 o clock and 6 o clock.
  7. Place your cutlery (knife, fork, and dessert spoon) in the centre of the napkin, handles pointing towards 6 o clock, tips pointing towards 12 o clock.
  8. Using ribbon, or twine, tie a bow around the centre of the napkin and cutlery to secure them as a bundle.
  9. Slip a sprig of rosemary behind the bow.
  10. If you have crackers to pull, they can either be placed on the table above the plate, or in between place settings.


There you have it! A well put together Christmas table in just ten steps.

It’s only easy if you know how. That’s why you can rely on us for any home renovations you have planned. If you’d like to get in touch with the team here at Maidenhead Planning, to discuss any upcoming ventures, please drop us a line!

Posted on December 17th 2021

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