Traditional Christmas table decor ideas for a stylish festive meal

Bring cosy joy to your table this December with these classic looks
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  • There’s no time of year quite like the festive season to make us nostalgic about years gone past. By using traditional Christmas table decor ideas, you can create a timeless look for your dining table this December.

    Whatever style of Christmas table decoration ideas you have in mind for the 25th, a nod to tradition can work wonders. While you can, of course, go full-blown traditional, you could also add just one or two of your favourite classic elements, or create a contemporary reinvention of traditional Christmas table decor altogether.

    Traditional Christmas table decoration ideas

    From classic palettes to iconic symbols of Yule, the traditions of Christmas have plenty of options for us to pick and choose from. Read on for some of the traditional Christmas table ideas we want to try this year.

    1. Use classic white

    White cracker on plate with white roses

    Image credit: Future PLC

    ‘White is a classy, stylish colour which evokes a sense of snow in a warm living room without feeling too frosty and overpowering the space,’ says  Wendy Rea, Manager and Florist at Direct2Florist. ‘Neutral white goes with everything, which means you can work it into almost any home colour scheme.’

    Make sure to add in textures to stop the look from becoming flat. Ceramics, papers and flowers will all bring a different tone of white to the table. For your floral displays, there are plenty of traditional options available, and not just white poinsettia or mistletoe. ‘You have an unlimited choice of beautiful white flowers to choose from,’ says Wendy. ‘Roses, carnations, lily heads and lisianthus. Gypsophila is a good option as it does dry when left out of water and has a look of snowflakes.’

    2. Lean into abundance

    Wooden table in dining room dressed with candles, flowers and food

    Image credit: Future PLC

    When you look at images of elegant Christmasses from the past, one thing most of them have in common is a feeling of joyful abundance. Replicate this by using your table display to layer up all your favourite festive elements.

    Play with height using candles and floral displays, and integrate bowls of seasonal produce with a nearly mezze platter style feel to the table, with fruits, nuts and decorations sprinkled liberally along the length.

    3. Display a traditional garland

    Dining table with fir, candle and pine cone Christmas wreath

    Image credit: Ward & Co/Jonathan Bond Photography

    Christmas table centrepiece ideas are perfect for integrating tradition in your dining room.

    ‘Festive greenery should be the star of the show,’ says Rosie Ward, Creative Director of Ward & Co. ‘You can easily forage for sprigs in the garden, on a walk or use offcuts from the Christmas tree.’

    ‘Two or three shorter pieces can be arranged together down the centre of the table to create the look of one single garland, just make sure to hide any cut ends within the foliage. Pine cones make a lovely addition and can be nestled amongst the foliage to build volume and texture.’

    4. Go retro

    Green napkin folded into shape of Christmas tree with sprig of holly

    Image credit: Homescapes

    Traditional Christmas table ideas don’t just have to be of the utmost elegance and class – you can have a bit of fun, too! Choose a retro styling to add a playful tone to your table. Mix loud tones of red, green and gold to really get that retro feel.

    Learn how to fold napkins for Christmas and create a fun and unique place setting. Mix and match shapes or colours between seats for an extra quirky touch.

    5. Take inspiration from unexpected sources

    Dining table with mosaic runner, pink flowers, candles and metallic details

    Image credit: Opihr

    Traditional Christmas table ideas vary wildly across the world, so why not use a classic look from somewhere outside of your comfort zone?

    ‘Colour has such power to change our mood,’ says style consultant and influencer Rosanna Falconer. ‘Try to keep the colour palette consistent across your theme – even if it’s just a focus on warm, rich tones versus cool tones. We all know the typical palette for this time of year: orange, rust, black! But your guests’ eyes will be much more intrigued by a novel approach.’

    ‘For this table I created for OPIHR Gin, rich, spicy colours tied in with my Marrakech memories. From saffron yellow glasses and lanterns to ruby dahlias and candles, I echoed the palette across the design.’

    6. Style with warming shades

    Metallic plate and gold wreath with pink napkin and tablecloth

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Although red, greens and whites are seen as the most traditional of Christmas colourways, warming russets, pinks and bronzes all give that old fashioned, yet contemporary effect.

    ‘When setting the rest of the table, pick a colour scheme to follow, so you can plan out what cutlery, crockery and decorations you will use,’ says Lizzie Beesley, Head of Design at Magnet. ‘Coordinate with existing colour palettes and themes in your home and incorporate festive colours. Add sparkling fairy lights along the table and experiment with your presentation to find what best suits your seating arrangement in a functional but luxurious way.’

    7. Go for green

    Green dining room with garland, fireplaces and candles

    Image credit: John Lewis & Partners

    For a more all-encompassing theme, lean heavily into one festive colour. Green is a classic choice, and one that will work in your dining room as a year-round scheme.

    Vary the tones of green throughout the space to create depth – all the way from soft shades to the deepest emeralds. For an extra touch of luxe dimension, throw in an unexpected touch of another colour from the other side of the colour wheel. Purples and deep reds will have the most striking effect.

    8. Opt for a simple look

    White dining room with grey chairs and Christmas tree

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Allow the simplicity of a display to speak for itself, only including your very favourite traditional Christmas table ideas – perhaps a few baubles, crackers and sprigs of fir.

    Another traditional element which works well no matter how simple or busy your table is, is the orange. ‘Dried orange wreaths remind us of childhood,’ says Wendy Rea, Manager and Florist at Direct2Florist. ‘People want to remember the joyful Christmases of their youth, and filling your home with the fragrance of oranges is a powerful way to invoke memories of crafty childhood projects.’

    9. Look to a luxe theme

    Christmas dining table with blue and neutral dried flowers

    Image credit: Ward & Co/Jonathan Bond Photography

    Plenty of traditional Christmasses involve opulent displays, so take inspiration from these dramatic tablescapes when creating your own this year with bold colours and lashings of metallics.

    Typically, we suggest sticking to one or two colours but this is influenced by who you will have around the table – a family dinner with young children might suit a brighter, more multi-coloured scheme,’ says Rosie Ward. ‘For a dramatic, adult-friendly table, you could consider black or colourful patterned plates, or if you’ve chosen a darker tablecloth, consider unique plates with bold designs to help your table setting shine.’

    10. Include a menu

    Chalkboard with Christmas menu and foliage garland

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Make a statement with your Christmas menu by turning it into a focal point near your dining table. Not only will this add a lovely traditional moment, but a sense of occasion, too.

    Chalkboards are the most classic option, just make sure you drape with a garland and fairy lights to really add that sparkly, festive touch.

    What are the traditional Christmas decorations?

    There’s a welcome abundance of traditional shapes, symbols and icons which are used in Christmas decorating. There’s those from the natural world, such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, Christmas trees and snowflakes. Religious elements like stars and angels. Then there are the more novelty pieces like gingerbread men, candy canes and Father Christmas.

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