Top Ten Tips for Festive Entertaining

A festive table in shades of grey and cream against a grey backdrop
A festive table that draws inspiration from its surroundings

1. Colour match

For a simple, no fuss festive theme, look at the room where your table is situated and allow your eyes to rest on any colours that stand out. A blue velvet sofa, a gold-framed mirror, or the marble wallpaper: wherever your eye lands, take that colour as your cue to create harmony between your table and its surroundings.


A brightly coloured Christmas table in shades of blue, green, and orange
Bold decoration is not for the faint-hearted

2. Know your style

Maximalist, minimalist, traditionalist, or progressive: whatever your style, stay true to yourself. When entertaining on a budget, don’t spend hard-earned cash on seasonal, trend-led products if deep down you prefer a clutter-free surface. Your bank balance will thank you on Boxing Day.


A warm, cosy Christmas kitchen decorated with rustic soft furnishings and decorations
Make your kitchen a cosy hive of activity in which to prepare the food

3. Minimising your workload

This might be the most crucial festive commandment of all: thou shalt be prepared. Seriously, it’s boring but delayed gratification comes into its own here. Top labour-saving tips include: investing in some glass charms so everyone knows which glass of bubbly is theirs, using a dark coloured or heavily patterned table cloth to hide gravy stains, and if you really want to get ahead of the game, set the table the night before.


A table garland of eucalyptus, pine and tallow berries
A table garland of eucalyptus, pine and tallow berries

4. Minimal expenditure

Keep your costs down by adopting an organic aesthetic for your table: string together some eucalyptus and mistletoe, or pair some holly with a few sprigs from the Christmas tree and trail this across your dining table. Enhance the organic feel by burning a couple of Palo Santo sticks – for a minute only – the wood exudes notes of pine, mint and lemon and is known for its healing and cleansing properties.


An elevated centrepiece of stars and clementines hangs from a wooden beam over a festively decorated dinner table
An elevated centrepiece

5. An eye-catching centrepiece

It’s all very well creating a seasonal spread to wow your guests with, but if it prohibits them from seeing each other, their experience is likely to be a solitary one. If you want to create a decorative focal point that allows for conversation, try elevating it above the table. A quick forage in the garden can prove plentiful, with a branch serving as the platform from which to drape foliage, fairy lights and other hanging decorations.


A black table cloth set with white crockery and scattered with gold star-shaped confetti
Have some fun with festive table scatters

6. Table scatters

For the festive anarchist, table scatters are the perfect opportunity for reckless abandon. Throw them anywhere, maybe even just stand on a chair and launch them in the general direction of the table: mess is best here. Be creative in your interpretation of scattering, gold and silver confetti works, as does a set of colourful coasters, anything that brings the surface to life.


An overhead image of people dining at a festive dinner table
Twinkling candles provide just the right amount of warmth and light

7. Festive lighting

Flooding your home with an abundance of cosy warmth and light from a flickering candle or roaring fire is a must at this chilly time of year. Make it a starry, starry night with the Nkuku Moba Star Candlestick, or for a more dramatic effect, suspend Star Tradings Paper Star over the centre of the table to provide a subtle, ambient glow to feast under.


A stack of pale blue plates and gold forks sit beside an arrangement of white candles
Muted tones create an air of calm at the Christmas table

8. Let the tableware do the talking, quietly

If you prefer a ‘less is more’ approach to Christmas decoration, you’d be wise to invest in some simple, timeless tableware that won’t overpower the majesty of your meal. Keep things low key with a plain tablecloth, some elegant cutlery, and pretty glasses. If this all feels a tad too austere, add some colour and pattern to your minimal spread by throwing in some luxe crackers like these Nancy & Betty Studio from Peter Hall & Son.


A bar cart carrying glasses and decorated with festive foliage
Offload excess tableware onto a chic trolley

9. Create space

There’s nothing worse than a table overflowing with plates, glasses, cutlery and elbows all jostling for space. If your dining surface area is limited, consider investing in a trolley, or side table, on which to unload excess gravy trays and empty bottles of wine that can be conveniently wheeled back and forth as needed. Stick one on your Christmas list and serve elegant cocktails from it for the remainder of the year.


An overhead shot of a marble table laid with gold and silver cutlery and copper plates
A mix of metallics adds a touch of class to festive dining

10. Serving suggestions

If decorating the table is low on your list of yuletide priorities, serving spoons, platters and all manner of table adornments can be called on provide the wow-factor. Metallics bring warmth in the form of colour, and light-reflecting surfaces will make the surroundings sparkle. Copper place mats are the perfect base on which to display a glistening turkey, seabass, or whatever it is you choose to serve this Christmas.

Gee Marling

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