Shiny Rugs and Christmas Dinners: A Gleaming Festive Feast.

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First things first: This post was inspired by a rug.

In particular, a white and silver cowhide rug from my living room floor. It caught my eye while I was laying a table for a pre-Christmas dinner, and I immediately took everything off the table and started again with the rug as the tablecloth. (Why not? Give it a good Hoover and a spritz if you feel it’s too mucky!) The richness of the rug gave me visions of a medieval feast, so I piled on logs, greenery, candles and shimmering metallic elements until the tablescape was transformed into a regal festive scene. Don’t let this frighten you – it’s surprisingly easy to recreate (with or without a cowhide rug).

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This tablescape is centred on natural forms plus a splash of metallic shine, for a glam bit of contrast. Instead of a silvery rug or tablecloth, you could substitute any cloth in an earthy hue. To lay the table, I started by placing chunky logs and branches in the middle. Firewood is ideal for this, as are fallen branches from the park. I actually have a collection of woody debris that I reuse over and over again so that I don’t have to go foraging every time I host dinner! After placing the logs and wood, you want to position all other large items, such as cake stands, vases, candy dishes, or candlesticks. Starting off with the big pieces helps you to ‘map’ out the table, and gives height to the display. Don’t be afraid to stack things on top of each other!

After laying down the building blocks, fill out the display with smaller items. I stuck to a neutral and earthy palette of browns, silver, green and taupe. With this in mind, I wondered around my house – and not just the kitchen – looking for any objects that matched the colour scheme. This is truly an exercise in ‘anything goes’! Everyone’s table will look quite different, but they should give off the same vibe. I fished out a mish-mash of glassware and dishes, Christmas decorations and baubles, silvery and metal trays and trinkets, candles and even a bottle of port. I also rounded up a pile of natural items, such as dried leaves and flowers, fresh greenery, and fruits. I used ripe medlars but pomegranates would look fabulous too, as would whole walnuts. Again, start by placing the biggest items, and then fill in the gaps with smaller items.  You want the display to look full and plentiful, without great big gaps.

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As a finishing touch, I filled bowls and dishes with beautiful sweets. This really adds to the feeling of being at a sumptuous, mouthwateringly festive feast! This season, Marks & Spencer have a brilliant selection of gorgeous Christmas chocolates and sweets, which is what we’ve used here.

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Finally, be playful with your display! I put Baubles in my drinking glasses and a bauble bunny under a glass cloche. Sweet or silly little surprises stop the display from being intimidating and overly formal for your guests. You don’t want to go to a dinner party where you’re scared to touch the table setting!

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With all the candles lit, the tablescape should be gleaming away merrily! All that’s left is to pour the wine and share a delicious evening with friends. Enjoy!

Shopping Links:

  • Find inexpensive vintage silverware (or faux silverware) and glassware at markets such as Spitalfields in London.
  • We’ve found gorgeous green and brown glass baubles here, here, and here.
  • Tiger Stores stock candles in a variety of shapes and sizes. Look for unscented candles that won’t compete with the smell of the food.
  • We’ve found similar tall glass candlesticks here.

Decorating tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to use a few accent pieces that don’t fit the colour scheme, such as the blue reindeer dinner plate I used here.
  • Layer up items! Place a tray under the dinner plates, and pile decorations and baubles over dried flowers and leaves.
  • Focus on lighting. We’ve used a lot of metallics in this display, so make sure to light plenty of candles to reflect off the shiny surfaces.
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