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Setting the scene for Christmas

December 23, 2011

Christmas, that magical, festive time of year when warm sweet aromas waft out from oven doors and open windows, tantalizing the taste buds as cookie tins are filled in preparation for the holidays ahead, fruity Christmas cakes are baked, boozy fruity puddings are steamed, turkeys are roasted, gammons are brushed with glistening glazes, when glitter and tinsel sparkle brightly side by side with colourful baubles on fir trees, fairy lights flashing on and off. A time when families gather together with eager anticipation around tables groaning with wonderful food. In the background Christmas Carols, maybe sung by the ubiquitous Boney M, play along softly, setting the scene for happy festive family times.  Mom might be in the kitchen, pink cheeked and flustered, whipping up the last delicious additions to the meal, softly humming along to the tune of Little Drummer Boy while Dad brandishes the carving knife, slicing delicious slivers of meat from the turkey and gammon. Somewhere a champagne cork pops and laughter drifts into the kitchen as smaller cracking noises herald the breaking open of the crackers and rustling sounds accompany the donning of paper hats. Mom smiles, knowing that everyone is happily waiting, in eager anticipation around the festively adorned table, for the food to arrive.

How do YOU set the scene for your Christmas festivities? When I was asked by the folk from ClemenGold to do a blog post on Christmas table settings I had a momentary feeling of panic as interior design is not something I have studied and felt quite out of my depth. So I decided that I would just share with you some personal tips that I have learned over the years and show you all how I set my festive table for loved ones. My personal tastes lean toward simple, with crisp white linen and red and silver accents. Every year those two colours, along with plain white flashing fairy lights, adorn our Christmas tree at home and I bring these same colours to my table with a touch of green.


  1. Go cheap and cheerful! A bit of time and effort works wonders.  A search through cupboards will reveal most of what you need. You can turn to nature and the garden/neighborhood for other stuff. Flowers and foliage from the garden look adorable in recycled tin cans wrapped with pretty tissue paper!
  2. I think that white works best as a backdrop to the festive colours of Christmas. This year I am dressing my table with a piece of plain white cotton fabric with a sheer white organza overlay. Both were off cuts that I purchased at the local fabric shop for a nominal amount of money and which I use as backgrounds and light filters when I take food photographs!
  3. For the centre table runner I bought some lovely soft white tissue paper with Merry Christmas written all over it and dotted pretty silver and black star confetti over the centre of the table.
  4. Less is more! A very busy table will detract from the feast itself. Rather have one low centerpiece that is the focus and build on that. This year I have chosen a short clear glass vase, filled it with red and silver baubles and decorated with a few fir leaves from the tree outside our bedroom door. It never cost me anything as the baubles decorate our home from year to year and the vase I dug out of the cupboard. Another idea is to half fill a clear wide bowl with water to which you have added a couple of drops of food coloring and floating small white tea lights and a couple of flowers in the bowl. Instant WOW factor and a low budget centerpiece.
  5. Lights! I love the soft mellow glow of candles and always use collections of these to set the scene!  This year I found a lovely little inexpensive set of LED lights that works really well with the soft glow of the candles so that will be laid down the centre of the table.
  6. White crockery is very elegant and mismatched items are very in right now so if you don’t have matching plates it really doesn’t matter! Just make sure they are shiny and clean. Same with glass ware! Old glasses can be rinsed in warm water to which some white vinegar has been added. Let them drip dry then shine with a dry lint free cloth and they will add wonderful sparkle to your table. If some of them need buffing use a toothbrush kept for the purpose and buff up with a bit of Bicarbonate of Soda before rinsing in the vinegar water. I have even heard that white toothpaste works well in bringing new life to tired glassware!
  7. Use the best cutlery you have and make sure that each piece is also shiny and clean. Cutlery sets can be tied together or placed traditionally on each side of the place setting.
  8. If you are using linen napkins just rolling them simply and fastening with festive bows, pinecones and pipe cleaners adds a lovely finishing touch to each place setting. If you want to add a personal touch you can add each guests name either to the serviette tie or as a name tab on the table. You can use gift tags or make your own by cutting out shapes from coloured board to match your theme, writing the name in silver or gold pen and propping them into pinecones placed at each setting. Or maybe a small gift with name tags attached at each place setting.
  9. Christmas Crackers – these range from dirt cheap with trashy toys, to deluxe. It really is a personal choice which route you go but make sure the colours you choose match your theme. And be sure to make everyone wear those dreadful hats and tell the corny jokes or guess what questions that fall out of each one!
  10. Above all things have a good time, give thanks for the feast laid out on the table, savour the flavours slowly and take great joy in seeing happily satiated family and friends lazing around after lunch or dinner, too lazy to do anything but offer up some snippet of humour or wisdom to the conversation in between dozing off! Before you know it, it’s time for mince pies, Christmas cake and coffee!

And there you have it! A simple but festively decorated table fit for the feast that awaits!

Merry Christmas to all my readers out there who celebrate the birth of Jesus and Happy Holidays to those who don’t!

May your day be filled with the joy and peace of this special season!

browniegirl xx

Also blogged here 

Edit: Wynand who authors Kitchen Boy in Taiwan blog does a monthly cook-along challenge and his chosen them for this month is Christmas lunch or dinner…it may be what you eat, what you have prepared, the company around the table, the table setting or decorations. So I am submitting this blog post to the Kitchenboy’s challenge! Thank you Wynand for the effort  and thought that you put into your monthly challenges. Although I have not as yet participated I have enjoyed reading about them.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2011 5:09 AM

    Very tasteful and stylish, Colly. Merry Christmas and much love xxx

    • January 2, 2012 8:45 PM

      Thank you so much Cindy. That was what I was aiming for but in a simple way. So glad you like it. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year my friend. Miss you. Love xxx

  2. December 26, 2011 10:20 AM

    What a lovely looking table. Very festive! Great tips too.

    • January 2, 2012 8:47 PM

      Thank you Jane-Anne! Much appreciated. Hope you had an awesome festive season! xx

  3. December 27, 2011 8:11 PM

    What a wonderful setting!! Hugs to you, Collie!

    • January 2, 2012 8:48 PM

      Thanks polkie. Glad that you like it. Hugs to you too xx

  4. December 31, 2011 11:01 PM

    The sort of setting I like. In spite of the unpacking and washing and repacking, we like bringing out the silver, too.
    Hope you had a lovely Christmas, and best wishes for a great 2012!

    • January 2, 2012 8:51 PM

      Thanks Col! It is a very simple but festive and stylish setting….one that I really like! If I had silver to unpack and polish I reckon I would do that too 🙂 We had a lovely Christmas thank you. Hope yours was good. I must come over and visit. Bet little R is not so little anymore….time flies! May 2012 be a great year for you too Col and MBH and fam xx


  1. Hello 2012 Happy New Year! « browniegirl

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