Christmas is a time for gathering with family and friends and enjoying great food, drinks and the chance to let our loved ones know what they mean to us. The Christmas table is a big part of the celebration, and decorating it is a fabulous way of setting the tone and making everyone feel appreciated and welcome. Here are a few ideas to inspire festive, thoughtful touches at this year’s table, requiring little more than some imagination and spare change.
1. Gift tags. If you’re a stationery fan like me, you’ve noticed all the beautiful gift tags (including the letter-pressed and hand-stamped varieties) out there these days. Tying these to your napkins with twine or ribbon is a little personal touch that’s easy and inexpensive. You can even write a little note to your guests on the reverse side. Add a sprig of rosemary, a cinnamon stick or a candy cane and voila — instant napkin styling that’ll make your guests smile.
2. Place names. Another cute idea for place names (and a fun talking point to boot) is to fasten name tags to festive themed items and place these on the dinner plates with guests’ names attached. Select a theme and use items from around your home. For example, pine branches, rosemary, a pomegranate, tree decorations, eucalyptus fronds, ornaments — the list is endless.
3. Gift bags. The traditional Christmas cracker is usually filled with a few plastic throw-aways these days. Put your own twist on the idea and create gift bags for your guests instead. You can pick up affordable bags such as these at craft or dollar stores; choose colors and patterns that complement your theme and fill with festive favors.
Tip: To add to the festivities, choose a selection of favors that vary in price — it will be fun to see who gets what.
4. Christmas cookies. I love baking and this is a great Christmas tradition to get the little ones involved in. In preparation for your dinner party or Christmas gathering, pre-bake and decorate some cookies for your guests and place them on their plates or in their gift bags (see above). Have carols or a festive movie on in the background.
5. Pine cones. The humble pine cone can be both festive and functional. Simply place a handwritten card in one to create a sweet place setting. The beauty of pine cones is that they work with both traditional and contemporary Christmas decor, adding texture and a rustic touch.
6. Candles. This may seem obvious, but make sure you include candles on your Christmas table. Nestle them among fresh flora and greenery — there’s something magical about the glow of a candle that helps create an inviting atmosphere day or night. Display tapered designs in candelabras or light a bounty of tea lights in pretty holders.
7. Ornaments. Another great way to add shimmer and sparkle to your Christmas centerpiece is to nestle some brilliant ornaments in your arrangement; here I’ve tucked them into a leafy display of fragrant greenery.
Tip: A thoughtful idea is to let your guests take one home to add to their tree.
8. Gift tree. An alternative to a long Christmas centerpiece, and an idea for smaller tables, is to create your own focal point using natural branches gathered outdoors. This idea takes advantage of the space above the table rather than along it. Hang decorations from the branches — perhaps handmade by you or your children as gifts for friends and family.
9. Napkin decorations. A simple way to dress up your place settings is to adorn each with an ornament, which guests can keep as a memento. Select something special for each guest, or use a glitter pen and write each person’s name on the ornament. Clear ornaments work well for this because each name will be easily visible.
10. Christmas cards.Better with words? Place a Christmas card at each place setting, written with a heartfelt note that’ll leave your guests feeling warm and fuzzy even before dinner is served.
Tell us: What thoughtful touches are lining your Christmas table this year?
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