This is how you style a Christmas table

Ppiled high with fragrant fruit, topped with embroidered tablecloths and adorned with a collection of plates and bowls, the food is the main event, but that doesn’t mean your Christmas table should be forgotten.

The table

Over the years I have collected quite a few Christmas kitsch and nostalgic stuff that I release once a year. From the handmade vintage lace with holly wreaths I found at a Viennese flea market to the mistletoe embroidered napkins.

Christmas is about lavishness for me and I want to fill my table with all the beauty, so linen tablecloth topped with a bright red table runner and napkins is where I start.

The fruit and the flowers

I’m not picky about flowers – I like supermarket roses, carnations, tulips and big bunches of green eucalyptus, but I also like to add as much fresh fruit as possible for Christmas.

For both a snack and a spectacle, I find plenty of leafy clementines and stud them all with cloves around the base of my candlesticks alongside delicate piles of physalis and pomegranates. They make the most stunning centerpieces you can make (and cook with later).

Clementines with cloves for fragrance and face-level candles for illumination are essential


Cut some clementines in half so that the scent of clementine and cloves fill the table, and peel off the papery leaves of the physalis to create a blur of color around the dishes on the table.

The candlelight

There’s something instantly calming about candlelight and we all need a little rest at Christmas. It doesn’t matter if you set the table for breakfast, lunch or dinner, light some candles.

I like long candles in candlesticks, so the light is at face height on the table and bathes you both in that quintessentially romantic glow: tall, plain white candles are effortlessly elegant and cost the least.

The cutlery

One fork, spoon and knife per person is all you need. I buy old cutlery sets on eBay, markets and thrift stores. Of course there are nice pieces of cutlery, such as cake and oyster forks, steak knives and soup spoons, but they are not essential. Keep it simple.

The plates and dishes

I’ve risked excess baggage charges on so many trips because I just can’t walk past a plate or bowl I love and take it home with me. From the antique metal salad bowl I found at a flea market in Athens to the hotel sign in Paris where we ate strawberries for a weekend.

Nothing matches in my kitchen or at my table any time of the year, but especially at Christmas, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Find pieces you love, and you’ll never wish for a matching set of anything.

To get off to a good start, I take all my favorite dishes and plates out of the cupboard and put post-it notes on them with the dishes that will go on them. The largest for the turkey and trimmings, deep bowls for my mountain of baked potatoes, and all my nicest bowls for cranberry sauce, bread sauce, and mustard.

Extract from ‘Table for Two: Recipes for the ones you love’ by Bre Graham, due out January 2023 (DK, £20).

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