Events planner and founder of Your Planning Angel, Heather Angell, provides her top tips for creating the perfectly dressed table this Christmas

I love hosting a celebration and Christmas is the big one in our household where I get indulge in a bit of luxury.

Christmas is the perfect time to treat yourself to new table linen and glassware so that you can dress your table exactly how you want. You can be as extravagant as you like and with many amazing homeware sales on the lead up to Christmas it doesn’t have to be expensive.

How to set the perfect place setting:

Before we get all giddy over the glitz and sparkle of decorating the table remember that this is the table that you will be sitting around with your family on Christmas day so don’t be tempted to fill every inch of space with decoration. Remember to leave space within the centre line of the table for wine, water, condiments and any dishes that you plan to serve at the table.

Ok let’s get started!

First decide on the colour scheme you want to have. Take a look at my Pinterest page for some beautiful winter table set ups.


Iron your Linen. Take the time to properly iron your linen, including your napkins.

Place your charger plate or placemat on the table. Make sure that it is perfectly set in line with the chair as we will be building the setting up from this point.

Plates and bowls. I include the starter and main plates on top of each other. Why? Because it looks pretty and gives a real wow factor when people see your beautifully dressed table.

In reality, if you plan to serve your guests their meals already plated, you can skip this step of adding the plates or dress the table like this for the wow factor and simply remove the plates while your guests mingle and enjoy a glass of bubbly. Another bit of dining etiquette that you can follow or completely ignore is that dessert is never served onto a charger plate. Usually the charger plate is cleared away after the main course.

Now add your cutlery. How much cutlery you place on the table is very much dependant on how many courses you are having.

If you are serving a fish course after your starter, the cutlery would be place between the main and the starter cutlery. As a rule, you start from the outside and work in when deciding on what cutlery to use for which course. I set the dessert cutlery in an informal style at the top of the setting.

The dessert spoon (or dessert knife) goes at the top with the handle facing the right and the dessert fork underneath with the handle facing the left.

Then of course come the glasses. I include two glasses, although it’s correct etiquette to use three but my guests are greeted with a glass of champagne so their champagne flute wouldn’t actually be set on the table.

However, if you’re greeting your guests with a cocktail or soft drink, having the champagne flutes on the table works perfectly.

The shops are currently full of gorgeous options for you to choose extra special glassware. 

The Napkin. I’ve spent many hours pressing and folding napkins ahead of my client’s weddings to make sure that they are just perfect and my Christmas table is no different. For Christmas this year I have used a beautiful napkin ring and simply pulled the pressed napkin through the ring.

Top tip – to achieve this look lay the napkin out flat and pinch it one third of the way down in the middle and simply place on the napkin ring and pull through until you achieve the look you want. There are so many different folds you could use and I have lots of inspiration for you on my Pinterest boards.

Christmas cracker. Optional of course but in my opinion Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Christmas Cracker! If you have Children joining you for Christmas day you can make them feel really special by setting their place with a special children’s cracker or lots of mini crackers to keep them entertained.

If you are providing side plates these are placed on the left of the setting and should have a butter knife placed on top.

Dressing the middle or centre of your table. As previously mentioned, filling your table with lots of decoration can become impractical as all of the condiments, wine bottles and serving dishes start to appear but it is important to make the centre line of the table look as special as your place settings. I suggest something simple like using gold vases with a single beautiful rose and red berries and carnations along with a small amount of green foliage to frame it.

You can use whatever you like to dress your table but fresh flowers work so well and can give the table setting an elegant feel.

Using large candles or tea lights is another easy way to bring a warm Christmas feel to the room and if space is limited you can place these simply in the centre of the table or use a table runner and place them along the length of the table.

So there you have it. A step by step guide to dressing the perfect table this festive season.

Have a wonderful Christmas



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