The table is the centrepiece of Christmas Day food. It’s the place where you serve everything you have slaved over, and where guests will enjoy the fruits of your labour. Here’s some ideas for making it perfect for the big day.
How to lay a casual table correctly
The table needs to look inviting but organised and have enough space for the host to lay out any platters or serving dishes in the centre.
- The fork is on the left, knife on the right and a napkin or bread and butter plate is to the left of the fork, at around 10 o’clock.
- Always make sure the wine glass and drinking glass are positioned to the right, at around 2’o clock’ of the dinner plate.
- The dinner plate is the centre of the setting, but if you are serving an entree or salad, you may wish to add a smaller plate on top of the larger dinner plate and serve all the food communally in the centre of the table for people to help themselves.
How to lay a formal table correctly
A formal dinner table setting is used when there are multiple courses and you really want to splash out to make Christmas special. You need to have enough matching cutlery and crockery settings for each course
- To create ultimate elegance at your formal gathering, add matching flowers, a guest note card or keepsake, and a wine charm to each glass. Seats are generally assigned, so a handwritten place card or personalized setting is perfect. Hosts should always sit at the end of each table as a courtesy to the guests and party. Another nice touch is to tie a beautifully wrapped, small Christmas gift to the back of each chair for some added surprise.
- The glassware. Red wine is served in larger balloon-style glasses to white wine, and it is the wine glass that should sit above and slightly to the right of the knife. A soft drink or water glass will go directly above the knife’s tip. The champagne flute will go behind the wine glass.
- Cutlery is important and the general idea is that the main course fork and knife will be the largest items in the setting. Then you place the cutlery for the first course on the outer edge and the dessert cutlery inside the main course cutlery. Think from left to right: entree fork, main fork, dessert fork, dinner plate, dessert spoon, main knife, entree knife, to help visualize the setting!
How to create the perfect kids’ table for Christmas
If there are enough children attending Christmas lunch or dinner – three or more, for example – it might be better to allow the kids their own table where stern relatives can’t frown at the mess they make or the children’s less-than-perfect table manners.
- The kids table can have all the mismatched cutlery and crockery you want. Hey, if you haven’t got enough chairs and table, it could even be a picnic rug out in the backyard. The object of a children’s table is that kids can enjoy their meal as much as the adults.
- Ask one of the older children – ideally the eldest or even a teenager – to watch the children at the table. Have a special gift for them as a reward for being the “table babysitter”. Often, grownups get talking and the children need or want something. If nobody is paying attention to the children, there can be a lot of whining involved, which isn’t fun for anyone.
- Lay butcher paper over the table for the children to colour in on. This gives them something to do while they wait for their meal.
What are your top tips for setting your Christmas table?
Written by Billie Turei
An environmental goddess who loves to spend her weekends drinking wine and perfecting her Master Chef skills, this little foodie can callback any 90’s hip-hop jam and obscure pop-culture references. You’ll usually find Billie eating Thai food and heading off for impromptu road-trips with her squad.
Favourite food to cure a hangover: Hash browns. All of them.