My top two ingredients for a successful festive season are simple at heart: good company and good food. At this time of year, in the deepest, darkest days of Winter, a seasonal get-together can be a foil for our inevitable Winter hibernation instinct. Creating a seasonal table setting is one of the highlights of any gathering for me, especially at this time of year – any excuse for a bit of festive faffing! So when the folks at Denby got in touch to ask if I wanted to collaborate on a Christmas project, I had a vision of a festive table setting with Denby’s classic crocks as the star. I had so much fun faffing and styling this post so I thought I would accompany the images with five tips for putting together a festive table setting, to show you don’t need matching silverware or a freshly starched tablecloth to dine in style! Colour, texture, candlelight and greenery make for a simpler take on seasonal dining.
1) Choose your crocks. Your selection of crockery is the blank canvas for the rest – so mix and/ or match with what you have (or borrow), and the rest of the styling will follow. Browsing the Denby range I was like a kid in a sweetshop: slick white, staple blue and white or contemporary heather hues? I already have a few thrifted pieces of the classic Denby Regency Green, so in the end I went for the modern rendition of this timeless design – its subtle, pastel green glaze with white centre still feels fresh. The quality, finish and attention-to-detail from the heritage company is second to none; made from locally-sourced clay in Derbyshire from the original factory, each piece is handmade by Denby’s skilled craftsmen. There was a short delay in the side plates being delivered as they were still being fired – which I loved, as it shows the true individuality of each piece. I suddenly feel like a proper grown-up with such a beautiful, matching set! Am I over-excited about pottery? I think not – a staple set is worth the investment; my vintage pieces show they stand up to daily wear and tear and the classic Regency Green will never go out of style.
2) Keep a colour scheme in mind. Limiting yourself to three colours maximum – two main colours and one highlight colour – will keep things slick, rather than looking like Christmas threw up on your table! You know me though, any excuse to get matchy-matchy. I usually take my lead from the crocks, but you could clash if that’s more your thing! For this year’s scheme, I’ve gone for a classic, Scandinavian-inspired palette of white and green with pops of red. The green and white of the plates, white of the linens, and green of the… greenery, are offset by highlights of red in the embroidery, props and holly berries. Is there anything more festive than red, white and green? That said, the green of the crockery is subtle enough to go with a variety of different schemes; I’m already thinking dark green and gold next year, or maybe even pastel pink with highlights of copper.
3) Pick your linens. Starch is out, rustic linens are in! Lucky for me, because vintage cloths can be a pain to iron… I went for a mix and match look, mainly because that’s all I have (it happens when you thrift odd pairs/ single pieces when you see them and can’t leave them behind, same with my cutlery collection)! If they’re all the same colour, I think it works; I picked a selection of napkins and cloths in an off-white shade, which toned in with the table cloth. Speaking of which, this beautiful Swedish vintage number is a recent find from Abbeyhill’s Art and Vintage: as soon as I saw the predominantly red and green pattern of the tablecloth, I knew the shades would work well with the scheme I had in mind. (FYI, it is Scandi vintage heaven in there at the moment – if you are a fan of vintage decorations and/ or Scandinavian design, you will not be able to leave empty-handed. I was remarkably restrained, leaving with just two pieces of linen and *ahem* several seasonal decorations that also feature…).
4) Gather your greenery. I used a mixture of foraged and faux foliage to add life to my table setting. Although our gardens and hedgerows seem bare, there are plenty of evergreen branches, or bare branches with berries, about. Small cuttings of greenery in mismatched vintage bottles add texture and height to my setting, while I used a few fir branches attached with twine to a thin log to make a festive ‘swag’ in the background. I also used miniature faux fir trees from The White Company – which will last forever – or you could use dried flowers. Just use what you can find or already have and get creative! A little greenery goes a long way.
5) The finishing touches. Finally, feel free to festively faff to your heart’s content! The finishing touches are my favourite part of any table setting, and with crocks this good you want to show them off with some complementary props. I made my own place cards using simple luggage tags tied around each napkin with metallic baker’s twine and topped each with a wee wooden decoration. For my centrepiece and to add height to the table I added a long taper candle in an enamelware holder, while a few vintage decorations (again, from Art and Vintage) added the final festive flourish to my setting. How are you dressing your Christmas table? Do you enjoy festive faffing as much as I do?
Christmas table sources: crockery c/o Denby (but all love of matching crockery entirely my own!); vintage tablecloth, apple decorations, candle and holder from Art and Vintage; mismatched vintage and high street cutlery; luggage cards c/o Tiger; faux trees from The White Company; mini wooden decorations from John Lewis; vintage crystal glasses (an absolute bargain from a recent vintage fair!), napkins and bottles; antique and vintage table and chairs (all thrifting bargains too!).