'Tis the season for family gatherings, gift-giving, and spreading goodwill. It’s also a time to celebrate togetherness with delicious food. But with so much pressure on everything being ‘perfect’ Christmas can be stressful. We spoke to experts for some Christmas hosting tips.
Laying the table
The Christmas table is the star of any festive meal. Lucy Whiddett, professional tablescaper and founder of The Table Stylist recommends picking a theme and colour that reflects your personality and style.
“I often build a theme around a specific item, for example, a beautiful hand painted Candyland Nutcracker.” I then suggest picking the three colours that fall into primary, secondary and accent. Our Nutcracker tablescape has red as primary, pink as secondary and gold accents, with a tablecloth in a primary colour or neutral tone”.
For a sustainably styled table with drama, Lucy recommends using fresh flowers and foliage which can be foraged from parks and woods when in abundance. “Large branches with leaves can create a beautiful wild and fluid vase arrangement. Simple foliage placed along the centre of the table also look great”. For a naturalistic arrangement, Lucy suggests "dotting bud vases with foliage along the table to create a meadow feel.” This reflects the current interior trend for nature-inspired earthy tones.
Want to know how to set a table? Find out how Restaurant Manager, Abigail Clark, lays tables at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair. For the best festive-neutral tableware, shop our linen table runner, linen placemats and luxury linen napkins. Stylish and sustainable, they are the perfect backdrop for any table arrangement.
Preparing the guest room
“Making your home warm and welcoming for guests will go a long way to spreading some festive cheer”, says Ben Spriggs, Editor at Elle Decoration. Having once worked at the iconic Claridge’s - the epitome of style and luxury - Ben suggests taking your comfort cues from five-star hotels.
“The best guest rooms offer more than a place to sleep. They give visitors a place to escape to and relax in at any time of the day. While you don’t have to buy the most expensive of everything, the desire for comfort is universal. Adding a cosy reading chair and investing in high quality bedding – mattress topper, pillows and bed linen – are the foundations of a great guest experience.
Ben also recommends adding little extras such as a spa-style robe, slippers and basket of toiletries to help people feel perfectly at home.
Read the full article on styling your guest room like a pro.
The festive period can be full of fun, but the expectations of the season can make it stressful. While lists can help you stay organised and dampen anxiety, etiquette experts Debretts recommend never falling into the trap or being over-ambitious when entertaining. “A multi-course meal of dishes you have never attempted to cook before is a recipe for disaster. Realistically appraise your culinary skills, assess the numbers and, if in doubt, simplify.”
Lucy Whiddett of The Table Stylist also suggests not letting wine etiquette stress you out. “Forget those rules of pairing white with fish and red with meat. Give each guest one glass for water, white and red wine. For an extra festive touch, peg a sprig of rosemary or pine to the stem of a glass.”
Catering for everyone
“Being a good host means being mindful of all your guests’ dietary needs”, says author of The Friendly Baker, Lucy Parr, who advises checking guest dietary restrictions before menu planning. “While some dishes can be easily adapted to accommodate everyone, others will need preparing and serving separately to avoid cross-contact. It’s also a good idea to label buffet food with cards or cocktail stick flags. Provide individual serving utensils for each dish and arrange dishes so they stay apart from one another. Allergens also hide in alcohol and soft drinks, so check the ingredients before serving guests”.
For nut and dairy free Xmas recipes see Lucy’s Friendly Foods.
It’s the season for being jolly not jolly stressed so remember to make time for yourself. Simple pleasures such as wrapping up in a bathrobe after a relaxing bath, curling up on the sofa with a good book and blanket, or jumping into a bed of freshly laundered sheets (without the cat, dog, kids or anyone else demanding your attention) can make a big difference to your wellbeing. For more wellbeing support, join the Tielle Sleep Circle for regular updates and 15% off your next order.