Browsing Tag

christmas entertaining

Lifestyle

How to set an Insta-worthy Christmas table

19th December, 2020

If you’re going to pop your Christmas table on the ‘gram, you may as well go all out and make it look amazing. However it can be hard to know where to start when faced with a blank table to dress. Liz Elton and Lisa Featherby from food and entertaining website Eatable says it’s all about thinking outside the box (they also shared their tips for a great Christmas menu earlier in the week), and knowing the simple design tricks that can elevate a table from so-so to stunning. Here they share their tips for how to set a Christmas table without blowing the budget.

What are your tips for dressing a table without spending a fortune?

Lisa: If you focus on a a beautiful centrepiece you can bring in everyday crockery and glassware to keep costs down. Covering white plates with a little garland or napkin for each person, doesn’t require you to get that crafty. It could be a simple napkin with a cherry, or bonbon on top.

You can cover any table with a tablecloth – even a fold-out table can become beautiful if covered, just by shopping at a good fabric store. Buy a large piece of the best linen you can afford, and with some Velcro hemming tape, iron up the edges and you’ll spend a fraction of the price. I recently bought some beautiful Italian pink linen off the roll for $39 a metre, which would retail as a tablecloth for well over $300.  

I love to bring in tapered candles for later to add height on the table, plus a Christmas-y element like a wire fairy light mixed in is great, or even a bowl or feature plate of summer produce in the middle of the table adds interest. 

Another idea I love is to go mismatched, so when your plates don’t match, make it a thing—choose your colour palette (this year I’m loving reds, pinks and peachy tones), then ask your friends or family to loan you all the plates and glasses they have in that colour spectrum (reds can range from dark to light) and just go crazy with it.

You’d be surprised what you can find also at places like Target and Kmart, such as paper garlands for the table. They cost next-to-nothing, then spend what you have on a big floral centrepiece in your chosen colour palette and scatter around some self-made confetti from metallic paper for a bit of festive fun. It’s always helpful to create a mood board on Pinterest, too before sourcing things, to help you track down and cost everything beforehand.

What are some trends you’re seeing when it comes to Christmas entertaining this year?

Liz: Coloured glassware is huge at the moment—I love mixing shapes and colours for a really vibrant table setting. Sculptural candles are also a big trend at the moment—slightly quirky, they are a nice change from more traditional candles. Maison Balzac and Tony Assness are my go-to for fun candles.

What are some easy things people can do when it comes to the food/drinks that makes a big impact?

Lisa: I’d suggest investing in a big wine bucket that can hold a few bottles at a time, particularly bottles of Champagne. Have a tray of glasses to the side and let people help themselves. This makes drinks easy to pour, but also can become a bit of a feature in itself. A jug of iced water that has some fruit or mint leaves added with a stack of water glasses to the side can also be a nice touch.

What are some entertaining trends you feel are a little bit done, and what can people do instead?

Liz: Rosemary can be beautiful on a Christmas table setting, however I have seen it a lot. I prefer sprigs of an Australian native such as Eucalyptus to make the table look a little more modern.

There is a tendency to make everything very neutral and tonal, however colour is making a big comeback—pops of bright colour are so fun and impactful—and so fitting for our hot climate. Dinosaur Designs do colour so beautifully – and bright paper napkins are an easy and cost-effective way to add a pop of colour without investing in expensive new pieces.

Piles of Christmas baubles on a table are an easy solution to make a table look festive, however perhaps a little old-fashioned. Instead, try a mix of vases in different sizes filled with florals, greenery and natives – play with colour and scale for maximum impact.

Fashion

Christmas entertaining tips with Stephanie Conley

13th December, 2020
Stephanie Conley is the founder of the hugely successful lifestyle blog, The Hostess

With Christmas just around the corner it’s not uncommon for stress levels to start skyrocketing, particularly if you’re the one playing host to family and friends. So to help make it easier, I’ve enlisted the help of Stephanie Conley—a former fashion designer turned founder of the successful lifestyle blog, The Hostess, Le Cordon Bleu alumni and Electrolux ambassador to share her top tips for making hosting any gathering over the festive season a breeze.

It can be an overwhelming task hosting family and friends during the festive season. What are some things you suggest people do to help make it easier?

Being organised is key to a successful and enjoyable day. Perhaps you could delegate desserts to other family members so you can concentrate on the main meal, it will take a lot of pressure off.

What are the key trends you’re seeing when it comes to entertaining that people may want to keep in mind for any gatherings over Christmas?

Creating a large grazing table is a great way to entertain and feed a large amount of people. Plating individual meals is very time consuming and often stressful if you have 20 plates to do. Get creative and dress your table with beautiful fresh blooms, use wooden boards and crates to sit platters on, as well as Christmas decorations, fresh fruit and nuts.

What would be on your ideal Christmas menu? 

Seafood is my go-to dish at Christmas, so a classic prawn cocktail, grilled scampi, an abundance of fresh salads and a citrus honey glazed ham. For dessert I always make pavlova and homemade rum and raisin ice cream.  

What’s something you think people should spend less time on when it comes to entertaining? 

Food – it doesn’t have to be 3 Michelin star! Rustic, casual and simple cooking is the best way to cook at home and entertain. The most important thing is to have fresh local produce, use good extra virgin olive oil and cook with love.

A well dressed table should be a focus for any host

What’s something you think people should spend more time on when it comes to entertaining? 

The table is where the focus is, so some effort is needed in the presentation of your table. Invest in some lovely linen napkins and a table cloth or runner. Buy some small table vases perfect for small arrangements that don’t take over your table or block the view of your guests. Update your salt and pepper shakers and flatware. All these little touches create ambience and once you have them you can keep adding and creating different looks for your table.

What are some shortcuts people can take to help put an event together easier?

There are a lot of items you can buy ready made and then just spend time on their presentation. For example an easy Christmas starter would be a fresh seafood platter of prawns, oysters, assorted sashimi and make or buy a dipping sauce. Arrange it all on a large platter with wedges of lemon and toss some watercress over the top with some crusty sourdough.

Glaze a ham and serve with assorted mustards and chutneys. Roast some root vegetables drizzled with maple syrup and rosemary then make a green salad with walnuts, cranberries and crumbled fetta cheese.

And for desert vanilla bean ice cream with fresh mango and crumbled ginger nut cookies on top.

This is a very simple and fuss free menu that everyone can do and would enjoy and it could be done the day of.

What are your key tips when it comes to decorating an event? 

Flowers are always a key item as they just brighten a room.

Beautiful blooms are key to making any event look amazing

What are your tips for styling a table that’s sure to impress?

A centrepiece of low fresh blooms, candles and an element of layering, whether that is using placemats or using a table cloth or runner to create some depth.

What are some things a host can do to ensure that when they’re hosting an event, they’re not spending all their time in the kitchen? 

A secret helper, someone to pour drinks, stack the dishwasher and clear the plates – find a helping hand who wants to do a few hours work so you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Also, having large appliances, like the Electrolux RealLife XXL Fully Integrated Dishwasher, is great so you can wash more at one time.  

What are three must-haves for any host? 

1. A well-stocked bar

2. Good food

3. A great playlist-music is essential

Want more tips from Stephanie? Check out her new podcast, in conversation with her husband Oskar Buhre where they discuss Christmas traditions, entertaining and staying organised.