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With so much to think about in the run-up to Christmas, why make life more complicated with an overly-fussy table arrangement? Simple Christmas table decor ideas that are easy to put together will save you time and energy on the big day, so you can better enjoy the festivities with family and friends.
From easy to arrange table centrepiece ideas to simple place settings and chair decorations, there are lots of fuss-free tricks and Christmas table decoration ideas to make your dining room decor look extra special without taking too much time and effort.
Simple Christmas table decor ideas
‘Now that we can host loved ones once again, people are taking extra care over presentation for long-awaited moments shared with friends and family,’ say the expert tablescapers at Lay London (opens in new tab).
‘Christmas tables should be joyful and fun, with a little glamour. And never underestimate the excitement of leaving little keepsakes for guests on the table. As it’s the festive season, you might add velvet bow napkin ties, candy-stripe bags of humbugs or ribbon-tied baubles at each place. No matter how small, guests will feel gleeful at their surprise, festive token.’
1. Create a relaxed, rustic setting
Go for a stylish but simple scheme by dressing up key basics that you already have. A classic linen-striped table runner feels suitably festive with the addition of jolly red charger plates at each setting. And adding sparkly red candles as part of the centrepiece ties the colour theme together.
While the Christmas table centrepiece looks striking, it’s actually super-easy to put together. Just cluster together a collection of candlesticks in assorted colours and sizes and stand them on a rustic, low-sided basket. Using a tray or basket allows the centrepiece to be lifted off the table more easily when space is needed for serving dishes.
2. Make an easy table centrepiece
For a quick and easy table centrepiece, try using a simple door wreath, perhaps one that you have from a previous Christmas. It’s a great way of re-using decorations and is perfectly-sized if your dining table is on the small size. Just add a few extra sprigs of foliage or baubles if it needs sprucing up.
Position a couple of candles in the centre of your wreath, to give the display extra sparkle. For safety, make sure that the candles are at least 15-20cm above the foliage to avoid the materials catching fire. Alternatively, use LED candles that mimic the look of real - try Lights4fun for a selection.
3. Add a fruity, festive fragrance
Make simple Christmas place settings look extra special with a few extra additions. Tie ticking-striped napkins with co-ordinating ribbon in plush velvet and set one at each place. Tuck in a sprig of fragrant rosemary, together with a cinnamon stick and slice of dried citrus fruit, that will add Christmas colour and a delicious aroma too.
Fill the centre of the table with platters of festive fruits, such as nectarines and satsumas, pomegranates and fresh figs. Add nuts, berries and dates, filling in any gaps with extra sprigs of foliage and greenery.
4. Fill the table with foraged fare
Create a Christmas flower arrangement idea for a tablescape display using foliage and greenery. It can be foraged from the garden or bought cheaply at a florist or garden centre. Go for lush ferns and trailing ivy to add colour, with sprigs of holly and mistletoe or festive spruce and eucalyptus.
A simple linen cloth make a lovely, natural backdrop that will set off greenery beautifully. Tablescapes need height, so add a couple of sturdy wooden candlesticks to create a central focal point. Next get your tableware in position, with mats, dinner plates and glasses at each setting. Then it’s just a matter of filling in with foliage, weaving greenery in and out so that it runs the length of the table.
5. Dress up plain white dinnerware
Make super-easy place settings by popping a posy of greenery on each dinner plate. Simple white dinnerware and napkins are great for everyday dining, but easy to dress up for occasions as white will go with pretty much any colour scheme.
Fold napkins into a neat rectangle, tucking over the edge to create a pocket. Tuck your cutlery inside - gold adds a touch of luxe - and then add a paper luggage tag so you can write your guest’s names on in a fancy font.
6. Make a simple centrepiece
Keep table decorations as quick and easy as possible, so you’ve more time to enjoy the festivities. Put together an easy centrepiece with a Scandi flavour. Fill a simple enamel pitcher or stoneware jug with armfuls of baby’s breath and berry-loaded foliage, then trim with mini decorations in matching red and white.
Swap fussy table linen and fiddly decorations in favour of a rustic wooden serving board positioned centrally on the table. It makes a great resting spot for dinnerware and glasses or for serving dishes and platters when the festive fare is handed around.
7. Keep it casual for Christmas lunch
More guests around the dinner table, means that extra chairs from around the house come into play. Make seats more comfortable by adding cushions, seat pads and a couple of cosy throws. Go for mix and match fabrics in a cheery colour that will tie your festive colour scheme together.
Decorate the backs of chairs by tying on sprigs of berries and fir, with a length of ribbon or twine. Decorate with mini baubles or tree ornaments and add gift tags with guests names stamped onto them.
8. Double-up with festive tableware
Make everyday dinnerware go further when you have extra guests over at Christmas. Combine plain white china with a bright colour or set of festive-patterned tableware, for a jolly mix and match feel that will give you double the amount of crockery.
Pop a mini gift for your guests at each place setting for a special start to the meal. Wrap in co-ordinating giftwrap and tie with satin ribbon with a berry sprig topper as a pretty finishing touch.
9. Give a neutral scheme subtle sparkle
If traditional reds and greens aren’t your style, opt for soft gold and white to give a neutral dining scheme a little extra sparkle. Burnished golds and frosted finishes create more of a subtle shimmer and soft sheen that isn’t as harsh as polished surfaces and high-shine metallics.
Decorate the table with mercury glass votives and tall gold candlesticks that will create a soft and cosy glow after dark. Keep to frosted foliage, soft-sheen eucalyptus and snow-tipped fir trees decked with twinkling fairylights. Warm white bulbs like these are easier on the eyes than cool white bulbs.
10. Pretty-up place settings with winter florals
Make simple but extra-special place settings by adding winter foliage to decorate the table. Spray a couple of small terracotta planters gold and fill with mini potted snowdrops or white cyclamen, standing one planter at each setting.
Layer up dinnerware in a stack at each place and pop a white linen napkin on top, adding a stem of gypsophila to decorate. Tie with a paper parcel label around each inscribed with your guest’s name in gold pen.
11. Create a sparkly hanging centrepiece
Leave more space for festive fare by opting for an overhead centrepiece rather than a tabletop arrangement. Use a large branch or wooden pole that stretches the full length of your table and suspend it from the ceiling on sturdy hooks.
Decorate your branch with battery-operated fairy lights so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to plug them in. Decorating with Christmas lights is the perfect way to add festive sparkle.
Finish off by festooning it with a garland of greenery, coiling it around to create a swagged effect and then hanging on a few more lightweight decorations here and there.
12. Line the table with a garland
Scale back the decorations for a super-simple look that still looks ultra chic. Mix evergreen fir with rustic linens, white stoneware and pale wood for a scheme that goes together naturally.
In place of a table centrepiece, use a long garland of greenery, either real or faux running the length of the table. Add height to your arrangement with a row of shiny brass candlesticks nestled in amongst the foliage.
Use a mix of tall and short sizes for variation, with simple white dinner candles to echo the simple scheme. Finish off with a few wooden bead strings and paper snow flakes dotted along the table.
13. Choose a relaxed colour theme
Make your festive decorations a continuation of your existing colour scheme. Dress up natural wood and sage green by bringing in garlands of shimmering eucalyptus and accents of taupe and bronze on the dining table to add sparkle and shine.
Keep the look relaxed and informal with mismatched dining chairs in natural wood and green paintwork, with a country-style cloth to cover the table. Make garlands twinkle by weaving in strings of fairy lights to take your dining scheme from daytime to night.
14. Swag chairs with greenery
It’s the simple finishing touches that make any Christmas scheme look special. With chair backs facing guests as they enter the Christmas dining room decor, why not dress them up so that they look prettier, in colours to complement your table scheme.
Loop swags of greenery over the backs, off-cuts of spruce from the Christmas tree are ideal, tied with satin ribbon and a couple of sparkly baubles.
15. Set up a festive tabletop scene
Make a simple snow globe centrepiece to decorate the dining table. A glass domed cake stand is ideal or try a couple of large glass bell jars if you don’t have one to hand. Spread a layer of salt or fake snow over the base of your stand to create a frosty backdrop, then arrange a collection of mini light-up houses on top to create a winter wonderland effect.
Use battery-operated tea lights inside the houses to light your display up after dark.
How do you decorate a simple Christmas table?
Think about how you’d like your Christmas table to look first. Whether it’s traditional red and green with lashings of holly and berries, or a white and silver winter wonderland with frosted baubles and candlelight. To keep things simple and save time, choose a colour theme that suits the decor that you already have, so you’ll have plenty of decorations and trimmings that you can grab to dress up the table.
Simple centrepieces are an easy way of adding a decorative finishing touch to your table. Display some of your favourite baubles and decorations in a bowl or on a cake stand to add height to the arrangement. Or fill the centre of your table with an array of pillar candles, arranged on a wooden serving board with a couple of sprigs of holly and berries dotted here and there to add colour.
How do you set a Christmas table?
Start with a tablecloth. While you may not use them for everyday meals, they’re a good idea for Christmas lunch as they’ll protect the table from hot serving dishes and spills. A plain white sheet makes an inexpensive alternative if you don’t have a cloth that’s large enough for Christmas festivities. Dress it up with a length of wintry wallpaper or festive wrapping paper along the middle as a runner. Then add colourful place mats, festive dinnerware and glasses to dress it up.
Lisa is a freelance journalist who has written about interiors for more than 25 years and has worked on all the major homes titles, primarily Ideal Home, but also including Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors, Style at Home, Livingetc, Woman & Home, Easy Gardens and Good Homes magazines. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person, as well as being a serial shopper/bargain hunter.
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