A beautiful Christmas table centrepiece will set the scene for festive celebrations, making the dining table feel extra special. From fragrant foliage and baubles to pine cones and candles, there are plenty of ways to make a dining table showstopper. Aside from place settings, the centrepiece is one of the most important Christmas table decoration ideas, as it becomes the focal point.
So how do you make a stylish display without ending up with nowhere to put the Christmas dinner trimmings? We'd argue that more is more when it comes to the big day, but making a moveable centrepiece or one made up of smaller arrangements you can move (or give to guests) is a good way to make it more flexible.
Christmas table centrepiece ideas
Think about what kind of colour scheme you want and whether you want a traditional or modern style. With some secateurs, you can even make use of the lower branches of the Christmas tree. Grab a festive drink of choice, play some Bublé and let's get tablescaping.
1. Make a wreath your centrepiece
Wreaths aren't just for the front door – you can use one as a festive centrepiece by placing pillar candles of different heights in the centre. Add delicate string lights and extra foliage, ribbons, dried orange slices and berries to the wreath to add scent. Go faux and you can bring it out every year and simply add some real cuttings to bulk it out.
Or get a basic real one to add to in keeping with your colour scheme. Whatever you got for some real foliage has the added benefit of bringing you lots of gorgeous Christmassy scent, which will invite guests to gather around the table.
Rhiannon Johns, interior designer at Piglet in Bedrecommends adding some orange and red leaves and sticks of berries to your wreath. 'This can be placed on the table surrounding some electric candles or perhaps a seasonal cake if you choose to serve one,' she says.
2. Go for a seriously statement candelabra
For a Christmas table centrepiece with an excellent effort-to-reward ratio, choose a statement candleholder. Nothing says Christmas like a Christmas tree, so this eye-catching design works particularly well in setting the scene. A large, traditional Christmas candle arch in black or metallic would work well too, but it's the height that makes it look so striking. Look out for large candle holders at vintage stores and car boot sales and you might find just the thing.
3. Choose a modern floral display
Fancy going for something more modern and pared-back this year? Complement your existing colour scheme with a contemporary Christmas centrepiece, like this vase of fresh hydrangeas and eucalyptus. Frame the look with two tall taper candles in shiny gold candlestick holders on either side.
Rhiannon Johns says a simple and classic centrepiece made up of a vase of seasonal flowers will create a chic look this Christmas. 'This really is enough to impress your guests and won't overcrowd the rest of the table,' she says.
Any dining room colour scheme can be warmed up and made to feel more festive with some gold tones in the accessories. Choose table decorations in colours you already have in your space to blend them in seamlessly, especially if you feel like loud and overtly Christmassy decor will give you a headache.
4. Make a festive moss bowl
The moss bowl was a surprising home decor trend originally sparked by the Kardashians, used as a centrepiece on kitchen islands. For a festive twist, fill a fruit bowl with moss, pine cones and candles, and surround it with foliage. Pick up a stoneware bowl with a wavy, organic form or see if you have anything hidden in the cupboard that might work.
5. Pine cones and warm tones
Display pine cones in large glass vases to create visual interest and depth without spending a lot of money. Earthy tones associated with the autumn-winter period will work beautifully with orange and gold baubles and decorations, with glittery crackers creating a nice contrast with the natural materials of the pine cones. You could inject some red by filling glass vases with fresh cranberries, as these are a reasonably cheap and colourful decoration that instantly evoke Christmas.
6. Style a seasonal tiered tray
Use a tiered cake stand or tray to add height to your Christmas table centrepiece ideas. Simply fill it with festive decorations and cuttings from the bushy side of the Christmas tree and place a real or fake candle on the top. The good thing about this is you can use it all through the year, swapping out decorations for Easter, Valentine's Day and birthdays.
7. Suspend homemade string garlands
'I personally love natural accessories and decorations,' says colour and paint expert Annie Sloan. 'Repurpose Christmas tree clippings – foliage throughout the home creates a big impact at a low cost, and the smell of pine is so nostalgic!
'You can create a bespoke centre piece from found objects foraged for on a bracing December walk with your family. Start with a beautiful twig and gild the edges - or all over for more drama - using my Gilding Waxes. Combine with some ivy or glossy holly - adding a touch of paint to the leaves if so desired. Essentially free, wholesome and perfectly tailored to your space.'
8. Style a moveable centrepiece
Unless you live in a fully open-plan home, it can be a little annoying to spend ages working on making a beautiful Christmas centrepiece, but not get to show it off, or even look at it too much.
To get the most out of your creation when setting a Christmas table, design the centrepiece to be transportable. Find a solid, flat based wicker tray and fill this in to serve as your centrepiece. You can layer in baubles, moss, ivy, candles...whatever your heart - and scheme - desire.
Then, following the meal, you can move the tray to your coffee table for everyone to continue enjoying. Just make sure to blow out candles a few minutes before you want to move the display.
9. Rethink your baubles
Not just for trees - baubles are a fun and joyful way to make a creative Christmas table centrepiece idea.
Once you've decided on a colour scheme, pick out two or three different shades from this and find a selection of baubles in these tones. Make sure they're all of similar size - adding in a few small ones may seem sensible to add balance, but they'll actually just fall to the bottom on the display.
Put your chosen decorations into a bell jar and - voila! - an easy, budget Christmas table idea that will add an extra sense of fun while reflecting the light wonderfully.
10. Keep things fresh
With little sunlight, so many heavy, soporific foods and - let's face - exhaustion from all the planning, you can feel pretty tired come Christmas dinner. Revive yourself by choosing a fresh and invigorating centrepiece.
Bringing in a growing potted plant, perhaps green ivy, a small pot of bright red-berried wintergreen, or a pretty container of the blooming cyclamen, will add life and energy to your table.
11. Elevate a centrepiece
Who said centrepieces have to actually be on the table? For a unique and Insta-inspiring moment this Christmas, look up. Dunelm's stylish matt black over table display bar, £35 would be great for this – it attaches to the edges of your table, from which you could hang garlands, pine cones, eucalyptus and baubles.
If you have a chandelier or wide pendant, use this as the base for creating your arrangement. Alternatively, a light wooden or copper-ringed wreath can be strung from the ceiling with ribbons or cords (use command hooks so as not to damage paint).
Wrap around ivy, long strands of moss or ferns to create a green halo, then decorate with some small berries and baubles. A sprig or two of mistletoe would look lovely, too. Just ensure the berries don't drop into any food or drink.
12. Create a contemporary cake stand display
Christmas is a time for fun, so why not go all out? Break away from tradition and embrace your favourite, energising hues in your Christmas dining room decor instead.
Deep jewel tones will still give that wonderfully festive feel, but in a cool contemporary way. Stray even further from classical style with your centrepiece. A modern marble cake stand is a great, structural looking base to start from. Mix and match small jewel-toned vases and fill them with candles, again in contrasting but complementary shades.
A few OTT ostrich-style feathers in matching colours will set the look - and sense of fun - off to perfection.
13. Use colour cleverly
If you decide to stick to a colour theme on your Christmas table centrepiece you can actually get away with an incredibly simple but effective design.
Drape a long thin bough of bright red berries all along the table, snaking candles and any water jugs or bottles you're using. If you decided to use a real branch, just be aware that berries may drop off fairly quickly, depending on the heat of your home and how much they've been moved and adjusted.
The red will contrast wonderfully with a crisp white table runner and will appear a lot more striking than the effort it took to create. Pick up on this by using the same shade on your napkins of your Christmas place settings.
14. Take inspiration from nature
Although we may associate the winter with nature receding, in reality there's an abundance of lovely items you can collect and use in your centrepiece.
Embrace the availability of the season and gather prettily shaped and shaded twigs and branches, pussy willow and pine cones. Mixed in with pots of glossily green ivy, you'll create a scheme that celebrates the appearance of natural materials. Consider arranging in zinc or terracotta pits, to really enhance the feeling of a freshly-gathered, from-the-garden display.
For an extra touch, use small rounds of bark (real or faux) for napkin rings.
15. Make a floral statement
Nothing says celebration quite like an elaborate floral centrepiece. The experts at Dobbies explain how to create a striking effect in your own home.
Soak your oasis block in water. Begin adding in your greenery layer. Aim to create balance, texture and height throughout your display. We have used Asparagus fern and Smoke bush.
Next add your florals. Balance the colour and size. We have opted for tonal reds, which strike a stunning balance with the gold and green. Add in artificial stems to give a more graphic look. We have used faux Monstera gold leaf stems and faux Areca palm leaves.
Place in the centre of your table ready for entertaining. If you can place the oasis block in a plastic vessel, you can keep adding water and it will keep the real foliage fresh for longer.
16. Take fruit to new heights
Sometimes, creating a striking Christmas table centrepiece can start from the most basic, everyday items. Hint - we’re talking about your fruit bowl.
‘Mixing fresh foliage, seasonal fruit and twinkling candles will help create the most beautiful tablescape,’ says Brian Waring founder of Craft Editions. ‘Layer with delicate glassware, embroidered napkins and porcelain decorations for an elegant Christmas table full of texture and interest.’
17. Create a fantasy forest
Even if the world outside doesn't exactly manage to evoke a winter wonderland this year, you can still have your own.
A display of brush trees will add a textural look, while allowing your mind to wander off to snowy plains. Buy a beautiful pre-made option, like this Light Up Brush Forest, £65, Cox & Cox for ease and for something you could easily display on the sideboard or a mantel to mix things up.
If you prefer things a little more haphazard, dot a mixture of heights of brush trees along the centre line of the table, and string fairy lights along to add a twinkly starlight effect.
18. Start with the tableware
'Tableware should take centre stage at Christmas,' says Alison Howell, Design and Development Manager at Burleigh. 'Mix and match patterns within a colour theme. I like to layer up the bowls and flatware to form an architectural temple to the main event- the food! All the bowls and plates will allow the guests to share the different dishes with ease.'
Choose a white and green colour scheme for your tableware so you have a fresh jumping off point for creating the centrepiece. Weave in long, soft lengths of fresh fir and eucalyptus throughout serving platters, echoing patterns on the flatware.
19. Switch out your florals
Flowers aren't the only thing which works well in a vase.
As an alternative Christmas table centrepiece, make like Oka and set aside your poinsettia blooms and replace with a full and bushy bough of fir. Make sure it's got a relatively sturdy branch, to prevent it from drooping over too quickly and spoiling the effect.
Think about how to fold napkins for Christmas so that you can add in tiny sprigs of fir to the individual place settings, too
20. Choose retro style
Some of us just like to feel a little bit old fashioned at Christmas. Maybe it's the ever-present patterned jumpers, white-iced Christmas cake or the re-runs of The Snowman. We might never know. Whatever the reason, lean back into your favourite decade.
Layer your table centrepiece with brightly coloured glassware and candlesticks, alternated with classic bouquets of roses and berries. The key here is to stick to traditional Christmas table decor in terms of a limited colour scheme - bright shades of red, white and green will instantly create that retro effect. Finish the look with printed napkins for an extra touch of kitsch.
21. Create an edible arrangement
'Nature is an endless inspiration: a striking centrepiece can be created using simple stems in a bud vase placed in the middle of the table,' says Judith Harris, Head of House & Home at TOAST. 'Scatter walnuts, hazelnuts, and pinecones to add texture and depth before placing big bowls of vegetables and salads carefully among the table foliage.'
For the ultimate Christmas dinner hack, make your centrepiece work even harder by using fruit that then becomes part of your dessert - oranges and berries can be added to chocolate-based puddings, while grapes, pears and figs can be plucked out as the perfect accompaniment to the cheese course.
22. Think about height
An easy but effective way to make a Christmas table centrepiece with depth and dimension is to play around with height.
Set up several candles or small posies at varying heights along the table. As you arrange these, sit down in a dining chair and ensure that the tallest pieces don't block the person opposite and that the smallest aren't getting lost in and among the glasses and any extra decorations you're using.
23. Make the most of metallics
Christmas time is full of fairy lights and candles, so use metallics cleverly to create extra movement in your dining room.
Opting for metallics will provide reflective spots for lights to bounce off and create pretty effects all around. Mix up textures as different surfaces will create different lighting results. Try decorating with Christmas lights combined with beaded placemats with silver baubles and strands of tinsel.
24. Create a candlelit runner
There's nothing quite like the glow of candles as you eat a cosy meal, or gather around the table to chat after dinner.
Make this atmospheric lighting element the star of the show by creating a runner using candle after candle. Keep things alight - without setting anything alight! - by using a selection of realistic artificial flames, rather than the real deal. The Chapel Candle Trio, £22.99, Lights4Fun are a great option.
Keep the theme fully set on Christmas by weaving in long sprigs of mistletoe or ivy to finish off.
How do you make a simple Christmas centrepiece?
Making a Christmas centrepiece can be as simple or as involved as you wish. For a very relaxed approach, you might just want to gently drape long lengths of eucalyptus running centrally down the table. From there, you can layer with holly, ivy, dried oranges and star anise… anything you can forage (or find in your kitchen!) which will add depth and interest.
Small sprigs of fresh rosemary are a clever addition as they will add a lovely aromatic touch to the display. This type of look is best created fresh, but you can stretch it out for a week or so (New Year’s party, perhaps?) by keeping the room cool, spritzing occasionally and simply replacing dried-out items.
One practical yet beautiful option is to create a centrepiece made up of small oasis blocks, at Amazon, which you can use to arrange foliage, and they make lovely gifts for people visiting over the festive season. It means you can move the arrangement around more easily, rather than having one huge arrangement.
How can I make a Christmas centrepiece on a budget?
David Denyer from Eflorist recommends using fresh flowers like amaryllis, poinsettia and red roses to create a centrepiece that's more affordable and pre-arranged pieces. 'You first need to have a great base. This could be a wide vase, wreathe, or floral foam – even a simple bowl can work really well.
'Next you simply arrange foliage, flowers and any other adornments. My biggest piece of advice would be to cut the stems on your flowers so that everything in your arrangement sits quite low in the base. When you’re enjoying a conversation at the table with your loved ones this Christmas, the last thing you want is an overly tall centrepiece getting in the way!'
Other ways to save money is including decorations and bowls you already have, and taking cuttings from the garden. This will also give you a one-of-a-kind design.
What should I put on my Christmas table?
Your Christmas table should be made up of a few key elements – once you have these in place you can go wild adding extra decorations and touches of personality. A tablecloth or runner is great for adding a sense of occasion, along with, of course, your Christmas table centrepiece! Water jugs, salt and pepper, and mats for hot side dishes are useful to lay out centrally, too.
For the place settings, consider adding a charger in addition to the mat, in order to add more interest. Side plates aren’t always used at home, but if you can’t go overboard at Christmas then when can you?!
How do you make a table look Christmassy?
Setting any table for a big occasion should be a fun and creative experience, so the key is to really lean into the theme. You want to be able to glance at the table and tell if it’s for Christmas, Easter, a birthday… For a Christmas table simply include key Yuletide signposts, like holly, ivy, oranges studded with cloves.
If it’s a family or child friendly event, add a couple of mini reindeer and dishes filled with novelty chocs. Finally, remember that colour is incredibly evocative - reds, greens and metallics all direct your thoughts towards Christmas.
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Thea Babington-Stitt is the Assistant Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for nearly 10 years.
She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.
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