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How to Lay a Christmas Table:

The Hambledon Guide to Seasonal Table Setting

Without wishing to speak out of turn, tempt the devil and count my chickens, it begins to seem as if we may be able to spend Christmas with at least some of our very nearest and dearest. And we may well want to mark the seasonal festivities with a little more flamboyance than usual. Here are our top tables for the celebration.

The Italian Table


With a centrepiece of glass tomatoes (we’re thinking salsa di pomodoro) and coloured candles (classic Tricolore), we’re celebrating Italy with this table. Looking to one of our sterling Italian suppliers, Bitossi Ceramiche, based in Florence, as our inspiration, we’re creating our version of an upscale Florentine dinner using all manner of sizes and patterns of their signature china plates and bowls to set the scene. This is a bold approach to tablescaping, relying on a few key elements. Van Verre candlesticks provide some vertical structure; glass decorations provide the whimsy; the gold wire basket gives a degree of luxe; and the mismatched china provides variety. As we’re in Tuscany, please serve with Tortellini en Brodo, Stuffed Capon and a piece of Panforte. Yum

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The Danish Table


The starting point for this table was Bungalow, one of the very lovely Danish brands who we work with, and their beautiful gold wreaths and mistletoe. We wanted this table to feel very rich and opulent and warm, emphasising a palette of red, gold and pink and suggesting an interior cosiness, with an imaginary Scandinavian Winter blanketing the world outside. Urban Nature Culture's candlesticks provide the grandeur. We chose a mixture of red and gold pomegranate decorations for each place setting (riffing off the Greek Orthodox calendar who decorate their Christmas tables with the fruit). Table mats are a selection of Bungalow’s block printed tea towels, folded. It feels generous to use a stack of different plates. We chose Pearl White china (food looks so good on white china) and a decorative gold tray. Serve with Fleseskesteg (roast pork with crackling) and red cabbage and rice pudding with cherry sauce.

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The American Table


I’m not sure this is, strictly speaking, an American table. It’s hardly likely to grace the pages of Martha Stewart magazine or make the cut at a Daughters of the American Revolution soiree. But it just isn't Christmas without a healthy dose of kitsch. We've rounded up some of our least tasteful baubles and decorations (step forward Mayo, Pineapple and Retro Bunny from our US decorations supplier) and, in order to let the decorations shine, we’ve used plain white china (a stack of HK Living’s octagonal plates). We’ve dressed the rest of the table with colour to keep it joyful and celebratory. Look to Hay for Tint glasses, Twist and Spiral Candles and Flare candle holders. This must be served with turkey with sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows, of course) and pecan pie.

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The Swedish Table


A close cousin of the Danish table in terms of our broad inspiration but from a different starting point. This time we used the bold imagery of the block print tablecloth (Bungalow again) to set the tone. This is a beautiful print and a lovely big repeat which makes it perfect for a long dining table packed with family and friends (or carefully spaced 6 close family, we haven’t had the latest update on that). The palette of soft blue and grey works perfectly with mix and match Van Verre candlesticks (we mixed the shapes and matched the colour) and Bougies la Francaise candles. Keep the china simple with accents of gold. And again, we used Bungalow tea towels for outsize napkins. Perfect for mopping up after a hearty smorgasbord of ham, herring salad, rye bread, liver pate and lutefisk (look it up, it sounds extremely complicated to prepare).

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Whatever table you choose, we have everything you need. Shop all the ideas here.

The Swedish Table