Setting a Christmas table – a step by step guide to styling

Whether you're new to this hosting malarkey or a seasoned pro looking for a fresh twist on things, you'll love our top tips

Setting a Christmas table is a joyous job, but one we want to get right. We've seen the tablescaping trend go through the roof this year, but whether you're looking to share your festive spread on social media or keep it for your eyes only, you'll want to know how to lay the perfect Christmas table.

After all, it's the biggest meal of the year – an important time where many of us get together with friends and family, so you'll want your Christmas table decoration ideas to be just as special as the moment itself.

Setting a table: How to lay the perfect Christmas table

If past table settings have included a random scattering of crackers and a tatty tablecloth, then it's time to up your game.

From Christmas place settings to simple table decor and flower arrangements, there are many ways you can create a Christmas table to be proud of. Read on for our tips and a sprinkling of tabletop magic…

1. Make preparation key

Christmas table setting with paper decorations

(Image credit: Dunelm)

It's best to dress the table the night before Christmas. Why? So you have plenty of time to hunt down missing cutlery and crockery, to check glasses are free of watermarks, and it also means you won't be thrown off if your guests arrive early.

Not only that, but by preparing your table early it allows you more time to think about an overhead display, like these hanging paper decorations, or dressing the shelves and surfaces in the room to create a beautiful ambience.

Buy now: Hanging paper decorations, from £2.50, Dunelm

2. Theme your table

Christmas dining table with pink chairs and baubles

(Image credit: George Home)

When you choose a theme for your table, you can really do as much or as little as you like. It could be you simply choose one key colour to pick up in your tablecloth, napkins and table arrangement, or you may want to go all out with a specific 'look, whether it's nature-inspired with lots of wood and greenery, or Art Deco opulence, such as this table above.

From peacock feathers and gold-sprayed fruit, to earthy colours and Scandic-style decorations, the world is your oyster. So get creative and come up with a theme that not only suits your home, but calls to your imagination, too.

Buy now: Rose-gold effect bowls, £12 for four, George Home 

3. Add a show-stopping place setting

Gold and green christmas table setting with napkin and plants

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Layering your table is key, so decide if you're using a tablecloth or runner (or both), then pop a charger or beaded placemat for each place setting, topped with your choice of crockery and bowls.

When it comes to your napkin, decide if you want to make a feature of it with some serious Christmas napkin folding origami (bows and Christmas tree designs are easy to fold), or whether you'd rather use an ornate napkin ring as shown above.

4. Show off an eye-catching centrepiece

Christmas table setting with candles in tray as centerpiece and fairy lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Depending on the size of the table, you might already be struggling to fit on all your glasses and crockery. If that's the case, avoid cluttering it up further with tealights and other decorations. However, it's always worth squeezing in a Christmas table centrepiece idea. Just remember, bigger doesn't necessarily mean better.

A long planter with pillar candles nestled into moss keeps things simple, and the shape works well with a standard rectangular-shaped dining table.

5. Have fun with personalisation

Table setting with cutlery and crockery and christmas decorations

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Brown)

Welcome your loved ones to the table with a handwritten place setting. This could be as simple as a card, or you could double up and create small gifts for your guests. Perhaps a small succulent with a chalkboard label bearing their name? Or a personalised bauble or cracker? Feel free to let your imagination run wild – just make sure, whatever you settle on, that it works with your overall theme.

Oh, and one last thing – before everyone sits down to eat, make sure you share your carefully laid table with the world! Take a quick snap for Instagram, and add the hashtag #tablescape so that others can seek out your scheme for inspiration. It's also a good term to search with if you're looking for ideas.

Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at