We know that you haven’t got to the age you’ve got to without being able to lay a table for dinner. But as it’s Christmas, love it or hate it (you know we love it, right?) that means all being gathered around for the dinner that’ll push your waistband over the edge. So it’s worth taking some time and thought to get the table looking good for the inevitable chaos that will follow – it’ll be calm, clean and tidy for a little while – but since when has Christmas ever been clean, calm and tidy anyway? Here are our tips for a top table this year.
A plain tablecloth is a good idea as it means you can go to town on print and colour elsewhere. Layer it up with a contrasting runner. Add the crockery that’ll be needed for each course, dinner plate first, starter plate and soup bowl – if needed. Cutlery for the first course should be on the outside with cutlery for the subsequent courses to follow in towards the plate. Once you’ve done that you can let your imagination run wilder than a carrot-powered flying reindeer.
It’s undoubtedly a very special meal, and it’s just once a year so it’s definitely worth the effort to make the table look different from how it usually looks. Look to the garden for inspiration – holly and ivy are the obvious choices – a sprig or two entwined around a napkin looks beautiful, or go to town and create a centerpiece. Evergreen leaves, red-berried pyracantha and pinecones are good choices but you could go more structural with small entwined twigs and branches – kept natural or sprayed white. Candles are always a good idea.
To keep little ones at the table for as long as possible it’s good to have a trick or two up your sleeve. Make one end of the table their domain and cover the tablecloth with brown parcel paper, fill a pot with pens and crayons so that they can draw and colour in to their heart’s content. Alternatively use individual chalk boards as placemats and add a bundle of chalk to each child’s place setting. Collect empty toilet roll inners, or half kitchen roll holders and paint them white. Fill a pot with googly eyes, stickers, felt tips, pipe cleaners, tiny pom-poms and small tubes of craft glue and start a ‘make your own snowman competition’. And when all that fails let them escape to their new toys and sit back with the sherry. It is Christmas, after all.