9 Christmas dining room mistakes to avoid when hosting for the holidays

Ensure you are the hostess with the mostest come the festive season and steer clear of these dining room disasters

Christmas dining room mistakes
(Image credit: Future Plc)

Whether you're the one basting the turkey in the kitchen, or serving the drinks at the table, if you love to entertain during the holidays, then avoiding these Christmas dining room mistakes will ensure your seasonal soirée goes swimmingly!

While there are plenty of dining room ideas to inspire you at Christmas, knowing which ones to adopt and which to avoid will help you create the perfect setting for hosting friends and family.

Christmas dining room mistakes

An inviting home is something we all aspire to and when it comes to entertaining, we all like to think we're the hostess with mostest! 

But to ensure your dinner party or family lunch goes without a hitch, be sure to understand all the Christmas dining room mistakes you need to avoid, plus the simple design ingredients you need to adopt, to create a chic Christmas space for festive entertaining.

The experts at KING Living Design Studio say, 'One of the main concerns hosts have when preparing for the festive season revolves around the dining area. For entertainers who spend most of the day in the kitchen prepping a full Christmas feast you want your dining space to be close enough to ensure a smooth transition from cooking to serving and presenting the meal on the table. If the kitchen and dining room are not adjacent, side tables and consoles can be helpful for hosting an array of side dishes and, most importantly, the gravy boat.'

Read on to find out more of the essentials dos and don't when it comes to your dining room this Christmas time, plus plenty of Christmas dining room decor ideas too.

1. Forgoing a centrepiece

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Future Plc/Dominic Blackmore)

No festive dining table is complete without Christmas table centrepiece ideas. It can be a simple as or elaborate as you like, but it's a great way to pull a festive theme or colour scheme together and provide a focal point to elevate the whole arrangement.

Height is key when it comes to table centrepieces with taller floral displays, tiered cake stands or candlesticks working well.

However remember some pieces might block diners' view, so be mindful that you don't go too big and leave enough space for glassware and crockery.

2. Too small a dining table

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Furniture Village)

The heart of the room, a generously sized table is a must if you host lots of guests on a regular basis. 

Opt for a lengthy table if lack of space isn't an issue or if it's limited (or you only entertain occasionally) go for an extendable table like the Merlin large extending dining table, £1549, Furniture Village, or one with an extra leaf or pull-out top that can be called into action and used as a regular sized table the rest of the time.

3. No tablecloth

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Future Plc/Joanna Henderson)

While it might not be an everyday essential, a tablecloth is an easy way of giving a plain or mismatched dining table a more festive look for special occasions, and give you a starting point for Christmas table decoration ideas.

Opt for a natural or pale coloured plain, linen tablecloth to provide a neutral backdrop for more colourful tableware, glasses and napkins, or go for a brightly patterned tablecloth set against white or plain dinnerware.

4. Lack of storage

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Future Plc)

Having clutter on show will ruin a relaxed vibe and is one of the top Christmas dining room mistakes, so dining room storage ideas are a must-have for tableware, glasses, linens and cutlery.

A low-level sideboard will provide plenty of cupboard space to hide things away and also doubles up as a serving surface- a handy spot for serving dishes, decanters and extra bottles.

5. Not enough chairs

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Future Plc/Dominic Blackmore)

Having plenty of seats is another essential at Christmas time, it's often a matter of supplementing a standard set of chairs with extras to accommodate guests. 

Folding chairs are a practical choice, allowing more diners to squeeze in, and they can be folded and stored when not in use. Choose a style that compliments you other chairs and table for a chic, cohesive look.

Bench seats are another great one for space savings as you can squeeze on more bums, plus they tuck neatly under the table or can be moved around the house when not in use.

Even if you're looking for small dining room ideas, extra seating will still crop up so having a savvy solution is worth thinking about.

The experts at KING Living Design Studio say 'One of the biggest mistakes would be to try and squeeze more guests than possible around a table to cater for a large visiting family. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough comfortable seats for everyone.'

6. Just one level of lighting

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Future Plc/Dominic Blackmore)

Rather than relying on a harsh overhead light, create a more relaxed mood and intimate atmosphere with a soft layered effect, coming from several sources, for the ideal dining room lighting ideas.

Flickering candlelight brings ambience to a space, so decorate the table and mantelpiece with festive candelabra, lanterns and mini candle votives dotted around, with twinkling tree lights and strings to add extra sparkle.

7. Choosing a too dark colour

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Future Plc/Simon Whitmore)

Justyna Korczynska, Senior Designer at Crown says, 'When designing a dining room, it is very important to create a space that is most of all inviting. So, colour choice is crucial to achieve it. For a room to be appealing to different people, it is good to avoid very strong bright colours as they can be overpowering. Also, very dark colours may not be the best choice if we want that room to feel welcoming.'

When it comes to looking at dining room colour schemes, she's not suggesting dark shades are a complete disaster, but they should be handled with care.

'Any super deep colour will work best if you really go for it and paint out whole rooms for maximum impact. This look isn't just for large and lofty spaces, it also applies to small rooms where a dark tone will add style and character.'

8. Piling the table too high

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Future Plc/Max Attenborough)

While you'll want your table to be fabulously dressed for dinner, too much of a good thing can ruin the setting and leave guests feeling cramped, overwhelmed and frustrated. Looking at Christmas place setting ideas can really help with inspiration but don't get too carried away.

Leave enough space on the table for drinks, side plates, candles and some greenery or foliage, but don't pile up the festive fodder so high that there's no room to pass condiments or share stories. 

Be mindful when placing candles on your table and make sure there is nothing flammable too close to them.

The experts at KING Living Design Studio say, 'A top tip is to measure out the space available on your dining table, this is crucial if you plan to add festive décor to your tablescaping. Nothing looks better than a well-placed garland, or elegant candle holders but only when space allows and ideally each guest will have ample room to feel comfortable through a long, delicious and fun-filled meal.'

9. Not reflecting enough festivity

Christmas dining room mistakes

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

We can't imagine that any of our IH readers would ever fail to reflect the season in their homes, but this is one of the Christmas dining room mistakes we had to flag, just in case.

Your dining room doesn't have to look like a glitter cannon has been fired (although how's that for a quick decorating idea?!) or that Buddy the Elf has been to visit, but reflecting the festive feels in your home is a must to ensure family and friends feel the magic and joy of the season.

Sprigs of fir, ivy, eucalyptus and holly all go a long way to making a space feel festive, and the dining room is no exception. And Christmas flower arranging ideas are another popular choice for dining tables.

If you have the space on sideboards or mantel pieces, mini trees decorated with battery-powered fairy lights will always make a room feel festive, while a couple of Christmas-scented candles will help fill the room with fragrance. 

How can I decorate my dining room for Christmas?

There are plenty of ways to decorate your dining room for Christmas, to make it a festive space for family and friends to share meals.

Shelley Cochrane, Accessories Buyer at Furniture Village says, 'Don't be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to decorating this year. Surprise your guests with your creative thinking by using natural foliage in clever ways.'

'Why not string up a display above the table to allow for extra room, or dot bunches of eucalyptus throughout the house to give your guests a sensory experience- remembering to entwine hem with glittery baubles and twinkly lights for trendy, festive twist.'

Can a Christmas tree be in the dining room?

Absolutely! In fact, many homeowners have a Christmas tree in each room of their house, so having one in your dining room is totally normal.

With many homes adopting an open-plan layout, your dining room might also be your living room, so having a Christmas tree in that space is a no-brainer.

If your dining room is a separate space and you have your main Christmas tree in the living room, why not have a little fun with dressing it and opt for a theme, such as drinks, foods or characters. 

Holly Walsh
Content Editor

Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.

With contributions from