Over the past year, tablescaping has become a massive trend, and if there ever was an excuse to go all out on your dining table – it has to be Christmas dinner. To create a showstopping display there are two main areas to focus on – the place settings and the centrepiece.
Before you start ordering – or gathering! – materials for your Christmas table decoration, decide upon the style. First thing to consider is whether you’re going for a formal or a more relaxed and family-style approach. From here the table is your oyster.
Christmas table centrepiece ideas
Whether you’re looking for an elegantly formal table or a festive fun spread, theres a Christmas table centrepiece idea for you.
1. Rethink your baubles
Not just for trees – baubles are a fun and joyful way to create 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.
2. 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.
3. Elevate a centrepiece
Who said centrepieces have to actually be on the table? For a unique and Insta-inspiring moment this Christmas, look up.
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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.’
10. Create an 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.
11. 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.
12. 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
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
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.