So much more than Napkins…

Posted 14th December 2020

Tablescaping is the latest lockdown phenomenon, and at no time will it be more pertinent than over the coming festive month! It’s the idea that you dress your table as if it’s an artwork to be admired, by visiting guests or insta-hungry image hunters. Whether you have chosen to use a grand flower arrangement or second-hand mis-matched crockery, the way you’ve styled your table is more important than ever.

The hashtag ‘Tablescape’ has 1.2 million posts on Instagram. This trend has been driven by a year of social distancing and unlimited screen time. Whilst we’ve been forced to work from home, our focus on our interiors has never been greater, as people have sought to prettify their immediate surroundings to make them cosier and more restful, creating a sanctuary from the madness we find ourselves experiencing in the outside world. 

Tablescaping is so much more than napkins, plates of foods and choosing the right wine. Instead, it’s scene setting with carefully 

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co-ordinated crockery, sparkly glasses, pretty tablecloths and flower arrangements worthy of taking centre stage at a wedding.

There are three types of tablescape. There’s the handmade version – where creativity and imagination go hand in hand with vintage pieces and a glittery glue gun. There’s the rustic kind with a natural, creased linen tablecloth, fruit strewn across the table and a garland of foraged branches interspersed with candles. Finally, there’s the formal version with a starched white tablecloth, silver cutlery and sparkling crystal glasses. 

Intrigued? To create your own work of art this Christmas, follow these easy tips to ensure your festive tablescape packs a punch and gets your Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas Day breakfast off to a super start.

First of all, choose a colour or theme. Narrow down your options by staying true to one colour or a specific style – art deco, vintage, metallics. This will keep your table setting comfortable on the eye and aesthetically consistent. Whilst red and green are widely seen as the traditional colours of Christmas (ideas going far back to early Christianity where green represented the eternal life of Jesus Christ and red represented the blood shed by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion), red can make diners hungry and meat look undercooked, so use with caution! 

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Key colour trends for Christmas 2020 are white, grey, beige and navy. 

The next item to focus on is the humble tablecloth. Whether you’re intending to use a backdrop of pure icy white to set off a striking formal setting or an interesting gingham cloth for an inviting, welcoming and more relaxed affair, the tablecloth is the canvas for everything positioned on top of it.  Try a khaki, grey or beige washed linen tablecloth if you like the idea of a plain colour and favour natural or foraged decorations such as pine cones, holly leaves or evergreen branches.  Don’t ever be afraid of a colourful tablecloth. With colour comes joy. Just think of how much pleasure we’ve had this year from seeing rainbows proudly displayed throughout our communities. 

If your table is particularly striking and you’re reluctant to cover it up then opt for a runner instead. Positioned in the centre of the table it will give a focus to any serving platter placed on top.

A runner made of wallpaper, wrapping paper or remnant fabric is the easiest and simplest way to add impact to your table. If the budget allows and you’re buying a new runner but want to be as eco-friendly and ethical as possible, then consider purchasing from a retailer who’s a member of the Better Cotton Initiative. You can search for compliant shops online at In the UK, ASOS, Fat Face, Joules and John Lewis are just a few recognisable members.  Colour co-ordinate your runner with flowers, a plant, fruit or candles in similar tones.

Consider your glassware, which is so much more versatile than simply being used as drinking vessels. Try filling them with a dessert or display a floating candle in them or a tiny, personalised flower arrangement. This is a thrifty way to make use of what you have around the house, without having to buy new items. A mix of styles of glassware on the table will often be more effective, arty and impactful than a matching arrangement. 

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Whilst it’s tempting to laden your table with interesting pieces, be mindful of over-complicating the design. There is nothing worse than feeling cramped at a table with place settings reduced to fit around paraphernalia. Ensure each person has space around their plate and that you allocate the place setting first and decorate after, mindful of not filling the table too much. Heaven forbid there’s no space left for cranberry jelly!

Unfortunately, in the US, ‘tablescaping’ is the preserve of the rich and famous. This is because there’s a belief that plates have to be from Louis Vuitton and the napkins from Villari. Thankfully, here in the UK, we are experts at working to a budget. Whether you’re using vintage crockery or mismatched cutlery and glassware, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your story, however it’s created and played out on the table, can be just as striking and impactful if made from the pieces you love, that have history rather than from brand new purchases without any story to tell.  If in doubt, just stick to the essentials – pretty linen, candlelight, crackers and a bit of greenery.