Jo Littlefair is a leading designer and she shares her ideas for achieving a beautifully dressed Christmas table.
'I love to see the outdoors coming indoors at Christmas, via a beautifully-laid table that really reflects the best the season can bring.
'Along with clusters of berries or cones to serve as table decorations, you can find really beautiful seed heads – poppies are particularly good – which look great arranged over individual linen napkins, loosely tied round with a thick silk ribbon.
'I think a really elegant table should avoid reds and greens and employ subtler autumn colours such as plum or burnt orange. The sparing use of gold will always add some requisite seasonal glitz. Gold leaf, which is less expensive than you might imagine, can be broken up and applied with Gilding Size (a special adhesive) to apples or pears to make great-looking table decorations.
'Candlelight is a must, and a central display of pillar candles of varying heights can’t be beaten, with grosgrain ribbon wrapped generously around the base and tied into artful knots.
'It’s great to make the extra effort too to personalise place settings for your guests, using rubber stamps for each guest’s name or embossed paper to wrap an individual gift.
'To keep the children and young people happy there has to be an element of fun. Strips of plain brown wrapping paper can be laid across the table in each direction to serve as a cheap-as-chips table runner. Between courses guests could be asked to write down the answers to a quiz or to make their own Christmas joke, with a prize for the best. And why not get more artistic guests to draw a winter animal or bird – foxes and robins, reindeer or owls.'
The pictures above are of the table Jo dressed for an apartment at Southbank Place, a major new development project on London's South Bank.