Winter will present a Christmas Table Setting Workshop at Canberra Centre.
From 11:00am, the business owner and design expert will share her top tips on design and decoration and will teach guests three different table settings for the perfect Christmas lunch or dinner.
Canapes and drinks will be served, and guests will walk away with a Canberra Centre goody bag. While you’re there, take a picture with Santa at his Enchanted Garden, located in the City Walk Entrance.
Within the overarching festive vibe, what are your favourite table setting styles?
I am hosting a table styling workshop on Saturday 24 November at the Canberra Centre and I will be showcasing three of my favourites for this year.
Touches of glam (glass and touches of gold)
Nordic meets Australian Christmas (white, silvers and sky blues). The snow of the Scandinavian regions meets the Australian blues skies!
Rock Chic black with touches of very deep cover and grey. (An unexpected one)
I love all these styles. The Nordic/Australian style fits wonderfully in Australia because the colour palette is more suited to the season. Especially a seafood lunch. The touches of glam works for a traditional roast meal for either lunch or dinner and is refined and elegant – but still relaxed. The rock chic is definitely a traditional dinner time feast – candles and after dinner drinks and a dressed-up affair.
Do you prefer the greens and reds or the metallics for the festive season?
I would do either but I never do them together. I am not a fan.
I love greens with white and crystal, and fresh flowers, as a garden party lunch look is gorgeous. Even with reds, whenever I go down that path I like slightly deeper Christmas reds which make it more elegant.
Do you change your style based on whether you are dining inside or outside?
Yes I do. I think your environment is very important in your final choice of décor. Outdoor settings in a leafy garden can be part of the theme – for example, use the branches and foliage from your garden as part of the table setting. If you’re indoors, the décor in the room itself should be taken into account if you want a cohesive look. If you have a strong existing colour palette in the décor of the dining room then you need to take that into account.
Where should you splurge and where should you save?
I encourage people to splurge on the table mats that may be more specific to a theme like Christmas – you might never use metallics for most of the year – but they do make it festive! BUT I do really prefer to use pieces that can be used in your home throughout the year, rather than buying seasonal trinkets and rubbish. You don’t specifically need reindeers, and Christmas tree ornaments to be festive. Look at pieces that you can use all year round. Lovely glassware, cutlery, vases and candle holders can all be used throughout the year in many rooms of the home.
Fresh flowers or branches turn a table from a meal to an occasion. Spend some money there.
Can you make anything yourself?
I love place cards. Even modify little Christmas swingtags with guests’ names tied to a napkin makes people feel very special. If you have a garden with plenty of foliage raid it for greenery!
What is the most important tip to remember when styling a festive table?
Do a quick “dress rehearsal”. You don’t have to do every place, but set a couple of places, then count the guests to ensure you do not find out you are short 2 chairs or a place setting an hour before guests arrive.
And never have really tall centrepieces that guests cannot see over!
Has Instagram changed or influenced the way we style tables?
I am sure it has. I think Instagram has inspired everyone to consider details far more. I do love that – design is truly in the details. Though I do think that Instagram can be a good and a bad thing – there is a lot of pressure now.
You should use Instagram for theme inspiration but don’t feel like you need to live up to anything you see there. Most Instagram “dining table situation” photos are carefully planned and styled for hours and hours to get that single shot. Yours is there so you can enjoy time with friends.
Remember, it is YOUR table, for YOUR friends and family. Make it yours. Enjoy the process and it will show.
What are your three must haves for a formal setting and three must haves for a casual setting?
I don’t really have separate must-haves for formal and informal. For me it comes down to colour palettes.
I think the meal is a vital part of the decision-making process on the style of your table. If you are going the full traditional roast, then a more “formal” setting might be most suitable. But an outdoor seafood feast at lunch time might call for slightly lighter and relaxed colour scheme. But even a seafood lunch can have touches of bling to glam it up – but I would generally keep the overall palette lighter – crystal and glass with touches of gold, where for a formal table would have more rich tones and heavier colours.
Your table’s real purpose is as a gathering point for your family and friends. You want guests to enjoy themselves! I prefer to keep the setting a little fluid in the design whether formal or informal… more scattered vases and candles rather than precision placement. It keeps guests relaxed. You don’t want people feeling uncomfortable about moving anything and “ruining” the table! It should look better as people get involved and food is served! I would create something more formal through colour palette, candles and choice of flowers rather than structure.
Where should we bring in pattern and where should we bring in texture?
Pattern on the plates and through the table mats for me and texture in the finishes of material like glass, crystal and metallic finishes. Texture through flowers, foliage and branches. I find I use more of a mix of materials and colour rather than pattern on Christmas table settings. It depends on the pattern of course – but generally a lot of pattern is less formal.
The easiest way to introduce colour?
If you are not overly confident with colour introduce it through flowers and candles. I prefer to use different tones of a palette rather than a single colour – I find it gets “spotty” looking – not sure the best way to describe that! For example, if you are using blues then use several different tones of blue, if using greens mix several tones of green and even golds, use some shiny metallics and some more matte and then pair it all with a base of either light or dark neutral like white, clear glass or smokey glass. It feels more sophisticated than having a single block colour across your entire table.
One thing I think people underestimate is the attire of the guests having an impact on your dinner table!
If you really want to create the ultimate Christmas dinner or lunch to remember, think about your theme a little and let guests know how to dress in advance. It might seem odd to have a dress-code for a family lunch or dinner, but if you have gone to the trouble of a very glamorous table setting then let your guests know you have prepared a decadent evening and to dress accordingly. If you are having a garden party let everyone know to come in their garden party frocks.
After all – the table, the menu choice and the friends and family gathered around the table are the three vital ingredients to create the overall theme in the end. When all three come together you have a dinner party to remember – and the photos for Instagram will be amazing!