Aside from the turkey, of course, a stunning Christmas centerpiece should be the center of your festive table on Christmas Day – and at all other celebrations throughout the season. Here’s how to choose the right one for every occasion.
• How to choose your centerpiece
It’s fun to come up with bespoke Christmas centerpiece ideas; a family Christmas Day lunch requires a different approach than a romantic New Year’s Eve dinner for two. So first, consider the event, the time of day (or night), the lighting available, the number of guests, the food being served, and the size of the table.
If all this is freaking you out, keep it simple, advises Angela Slater, expert advisor at Hayes Garden World. “A contemporary design using just three different sized lanterns, church candles and fresh greenery is quick and easy and impossible to go wrong.”
• Choose a centerpiece that suits your home
Christmas doesn’t mean your centerpiece has to be all red, green and gold, or even worthy of a winter wonderland, says Connor Priestwood, interior designer at decorating brand Dowsing & Reynolds. “If you’re more into neutrals, why not opt for understated paper elements paired with earthy textures, such as grasses and branches, bringing in natural textures such as terracotta pots, natural wood, pine cones and garlands of acorns.”
Or if you love vintage style, indulge your passion with decadent etched glass, extravagant florals such as white poinsettias and scented candles. However, a stylish Scandinavian-influenced look – white and gray with hints of silver – should suit any interior.
• Perfect harmony – in line with the table decor
We love the table setting trend, but when the table is loaded with festive foods, serving platters, plates, glasses and cutlery and there’s also a centerpiece to think about, it all can end by being rather crowded.
‘To keep your party table from looking too chaotic, pair it with a quirky variation of pieces of different heights and proportions, from cake stands and vases, from simple candle holders to candelabra. This will help the look feel layered and pleasing to the eye,” says Wayfair Resident Style Advisor Nadia McCowan Hill.
A great tip is to use a toning or contrasting circular table runner or table mat as a base to “anchor” the centerpiece to the tablescape.
• Use wanted and found items
Foraging for holly, mistletoe, leaves, cones and berries in your garden or on country walks is simple and inexpensive, but be careful not to pick anything that could be poisonous.
Also consider a suitably rustic focal point. This could be a large candle in a natural tone like taupe, a wrought iron candelabra, or a handcrafted bowl. Remember that you will need height to make an impact; consider sprucing up a trendy hoop, like this (decorated) hoop from Etsy.
“I start with a nice twig and gild the edges — or all over for more drama — using my gilding waxes,” says color and paint expert Annie Sloan. ‘Combine with glossy ivy or holly, adding a touch of paint to the leaves if desired. Essentially free, healthy, and perfectly suited to your space.
• Quick and easy centerpieces in a hurry
If guests announce they’re on their way, you can create a stunning centerpiece in minutes, says Angela: “Depending on the shape of your table, choose an oblong plate or platter, arrange three large candles of different heights, then cover the plate in fresh greenery picked from the garden or stack balls of different sizes.If you have a set of battery-operated micro lights, wrap them through the vegetation or balls.
Another great quick fix is to “borrow” a small wreath – ideally pre-decorated or pre-lit – from somewhere else in the house, even the front door! Place it in the center of the table, add a small fireproof plate and either a large, thick candle or an arrangement. “If you don’t have candles, just stack balls in the center or add a bowl of festive fruits and nuts,” adds Angela.
Florist Judith Blacklock also has some stylish ideas for quick centerpieces. Here’s our favorite: “Take double-sided tape around a big white candle and press down some cinnamon sticks. You can give extra security with a raffia envelope. Place in a low bowl, surround with kumquats and fill the space between the kumquats and the rim with pine cones.
• Ideas to entertain and captivate children under 10
Connor loves the idea of keeping kids busy at the dinner table with “a whimsical element, like a battery-operated train traveling on a circular track.” Pair it with one or two other things, like placemats that double as coloring books or party hats that they can color, and you’ll keep the kids entertained for hours.
If that sounds a bit ambitious, make your centerpiece kid-friendly by basing the design on glass jars filled with treats, even small toys or wrapped gifts, says Claire Wilks, Senior Buyer at Garden Trading.
• Remember loved ones
Your Christmas centerpiece can be a thoughtful way to remember a loved one. You could have their name engraved on a meaningful vase and use their favorite colors for decoration. Or choose a keepsake as the base for the centerpiece. “Use an item to launch an idea, whether it’s an old candlestick, shiny wine glasses or even a vintage gravy boat,” says interior designer and influencer Louise Roe, who works on Christmas decoration ideas for eBay.
• Use flowers and foliage
Flowers are often forgotten at Christmas. “But a bouquet of wildflowers in a vibrant vase will enhance any dining table, adding life and nature to the space,” says Jon. He also loves the cool ivy draped around large pillar candles, with each candle set inside a large hurricane lantern: “Simple, yet effective, it adds height, texture and grandeur to the table .”
Small flower arrangements for less formal events such as family lunches are a favorite of design expert and homewares retailer Birdie Fortescue: “Create an original look using bud vases in different heights and tones. filled with minimal stems, with perhaps a larger looser central arrangement connecting with the smaller vases.’
For more elaborate occasions, interior designer Sara Cosgrove minimizes the flowers and adds an array of tonal-colored glass candle holders, creating a base of foliage: “Many Christmas tree vendors are happy to give you tree cuttings, so be sure to take advantage of this and pair the fresh foliage with things like cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices and pink peppercorns.
Also add herbs. Alison Howell, head of design and development at Burleigh Pottery, likes to “weave blades of herbs to make the table smell nice before the food is even bought”.
Also take inspiration from statuesque garden plants such as hydrangea, teasel or sea holly. week. “For a simple, budget-friendly centerpiece, spray them in a Christmas color, copper, bronze, antique gold, or frost,” says Angela. “Place the buds along the dinner table or in a lantern and wrap them in battery-operated micro lights.”
• Live plants
Blooming plants make exciting Christmas centerpieces, says Angela: “Garden centers have bowls of spring-flowering bulbs running around until Christmas and these can easily be incorporated into fresh greenery laid along the table.”
You can also incorporate your houseplants; a funky minimalist centerpiece could be created with a stunning cactus as the focal point.
• Interview with candles
The candle can be a Christmas centerpiece on its own, especially if you select candle holders of different heights or opt for a lantern. “We love pairing elegantly woven, layered foliage with candles,” says Jon Sharpe, creative director at home accessories retailer LuxDeco. “We prefer to use pine, fir and eucalyptus for shapes and fragrance.”
Battery-operated candles or micro-lights — try weaving strings into clear glass balls in a glass vase — are a smart alternative, especially if you have kids at the table. “However, if you like authentic candles, place them in a lantern with glass or filigree sides inaccessible to little fingers,” says Angela. “Do not, under any circumstances, place lighted candles near the curtains or on a surface that is not resistant to heat.”
• If you have a small table
When table space is limited, adapt your centerpiece accordingly. “You can always stick to sprinkles or sprayed pine cones in a Christmas color like copper, antique gold or frost or small balls scattered around the table,” says Angela.
Or make a statement by using the space above the table to create this year’s big Christmas trend, a hanging centerpiece. “Hang a spray-painted branch above your table using a simple table clamp,” says Nadia. ‘Then you can go wild with festive hanging decor, balls, battery operated string lights and more. A hanging centerpiece leaves space on the table itself, which means more room for chopped pies and bubbly.
Keep the size in mind. Huge, overly elaborate centerpieces are a nuisance, says interior designer Benji Lewis; “After all, you need to be able to easily see each other and enjoy each other’s company.”
Follow Beautiful house on Instagram.