It’s the small touches that guests remember for years to come, so we’ve collected a few quick Christmas decorating tips for decor, table settings and festive food that are really easy to follow.
1. When choosing a colour and a theme for your celebration, think about the shape and scale of your table and the number of guests you’re expecting. Light, shimmery hues are better in a smaller space while rich, opulent shades work well in a larger room.
2. Create a warm welcome for visitors by placing a spice-infused candle (with notes like cinnamon, sweet orange, frankincense and cloves, or a votive that can burn essential oils in those notes), in your entrance hall, to create a wonderful scent as guests enter your home.
3. Lighting is crucial at Christmas. A combination of candles and fairy lights will create a welcoming feel to your room.
4. A classic silver and white decorating style will work with any colour scheme, but it looks particularly crisp combined with plain white walls. Build the look with shiny metal and glass, and pile on the decorations and lights.
5. Gather a selection of different-shaped, pretty glass containers to display Christmas decorations. Or, fill them with festive sweets, such as candy canes. Use this little trick to perk up the corner of a room.
6. Warm up a neutral colour scheme using gold in different tones and textures.
7. If you have a staircase, create a warm welcome with little copper lanterns up the stairs like these beauties from Woolworths.
8. Fairy lights look lovely draped around a banister. Use on their own or interspersed with baubles.
9. A simple, hand-tied arrangement of white roses in a glass vase looks stunning surrounded by metallic votives on a side table or console.
10. Replace any large picture frame near your dining table with a wreath for a truly Christmassy feel.
Table setting tips
11. Edible centrepieces are a real wow factor – a gingerbread house, or pull-apart bread flavoured with cranberries and orange peel will really impress.
12. Keep everything on the table at a lower height as you don’t want your guests peering over the top of a big centrepiece to attempt conversation.
13. If you’re tight on space, don’t overfill your table. Instead, try to use the space above your table to hang decorations, which can create a real wow effect when guests walk into the room.
14. If you’re going for a modern, clean look, with a white tablecloth and napkins, consider tucking a long-ish thin stem of eucalyptus leaf into your napkins. The light, silvery-green of the leaves will look wonderfully elegant and is a nice twist on all the dark green foliage around.
15. Fun favours on the table for each guest to take home as a “thank you” will go down a treat. Little jars of home-made basil pesto or peach chutney are easy to put together, as are a few lovely biscuits wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied with a pretty ribbon, with a sprig of rosemary tucked into it.
16. Pop a Polaroid camera on the table, and then place a photo prop on each of your guests’ table settings. Throughout the party, they’ll be able to capture festive moments and take them home, too!
17. Tie your cutlery together with a cinnamon stick and a pretty ribbon.
18. Create name placeholders out of pine cones and paint the tips to co-ordinate with your colour scheme for a quick but fabulous style touch.
19. For a more casual al fresco lunch outside at the pool, pre-wrap your cutlery in colour co-ordinated napkins and stack them up in large jars.
Food and drink tips
20. Greet guests as they arrive with a refreshing non-alcoholic herb garden seltzer that’s so easy to make. Put a handful each of mint, basil and rosemary into a glass jug, and then add 1tsp salt and 1tsp sugar. Pour over 200ml of sparkling water, and leave to infuse for 2 hours. Pop cucumber that’s been sliced into ribbons into the jug, and top it all up with ice-cold sparkling water to serve.
21. Have little snacks ready on a console table for when hungry guests arrive. Turn the table into the star of the show by creating a stunning display of candles, baubles and a tray of goodies.
22. For those half full jars of mint or cranberry sauce that are always left unused and forgotten in the fridge after Christmas, freeze the sauces in ice cube trays for later use with meat or fish dishes, or pop them into drinks.
23. As a rule of thumb, allow half a bottle of wine or three cocktails per person. If it’s just a casual pre-dinner drinks affair, allow up to six canapés a head. If the party is going on longer, calculate 10 per person, adding some big bowls of nibbles such as pretzels or nuts, too.
24. For drinks, make sure you have plenty of ice in the freezer, as well as fresh lemons and limes.
Other handy tips
25. Delegate tasks so you don’t get overwhelmed. The table can be set hours ahead of time, and you can sort out serving dishes the night before.
26. Wrap small gifts for guests to take home as a little thank you for coming.
27. In the spirit of living a more conscious life, run discarded gift paper through a shredder and use it to package and protect baubles when you pack them away again.
28. Use empty egg cartons to store tiny baubles in, to stop them from getting smashed.
29. Use large empty tins to help you prevent knots in your fairy or Christmas tree lights. Make a slit in the lid for the cable to pass through, and then wrap the length of the cable on the outside.
30. When you need a lot of baubles for decorating, keep your costs down by buying bulk packs.
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst.