Whether it’s your Big Day get-together or a New Year’s Eve dinner, the table’s where it’s at over the festivities. Here’s how to make it a talking point.
Lay it on like a supper club host
Karen Mordechai, founder of Brooklyn-based food and design community Sunday Suppers, explains how to create an understated, chic festive table.
Neutrals make a beautiful backdrop for the deeper tones of the seasonal food, so I like to keep things simple with a white tablecloth. You can add a touch of colour by decorating with foliage, greens, herbs and fruit.
For a super-minimal approach, I place a small sprig or leaf at each place setting and add tall white candles to elevate it.
When it comes to the food, I want everything to be as fresh as possible so I only cook on the day of the dinner. To make it easier, I give myself a prep day to measure out all the ingredients. My favourite winter recipes are braised brisket with merlot, beech mushrooms and garlic parmesan mash and slow-cooked risotto with meyer lemon – they always please a crowd!
This is so simple, but so glamorous: a bleached-out palette is paired with natural finishes and foliage to create a standout yet easily achievable setting. For similar dinnerware, try bloomingville.com
Take your seats for the performance…
Want a dinner party with a difference? Sam Bompas of experiential culinary duo Bompas & Parr, who turn dinners into theatrical events, explains how to turn a feast into a showstopper worthy of an encore.
As your guests will have been invited to several parties over the season, your celebration has to stand out as unique. I do this by focusing on a fun and memorable theme that is suitably festive but not generic, then get creative to exaggerate it for the party.
The centrepiece is the most important element on the table – pyramids of stacked food such as lobsters or quail are striking and also make for great sharing platters. Quirky stand-alone pieces such as pineapples covered in glitter or flaming punch bowls also achieve the wow factor. Colour plays a major role in creating your table. I favour a darker palette such as sapphire blue teamed with deep red and flourishes of gold for a visually rich modernised Christmas look.
My absolute must is a thoughtful seating plan. I once hosted a party and placed personalised pewter tankards, which were £1 each from a market, as part of the spread. Guests were able to take them home as a keepsake afterwards.
Break away from traditional Christmas colours with blue, black and gold. This setting – by Aline Caron, founder of lifestyle blog mylittlefabric.com – shows you how to work with deep colours and still bring a festive feel. Winter blooms such as hellebores (aka Christmas roses), along with gilded cutlery and candlesticks, nod to the seasonal theme. For similar cut-crystal wine glasses, try zarahome.com. For similar stonewashed table linen, try linenme.com.
For more information, see bompasandparr.com or follow @bompasandparr.
The art of the party
TV presenter Laura Jackson, who hosts supper clubs in London, explains how she makes them personal, simple and sustainable.
At this time of year, handmade Christmas crackers are a must – they are so simple to make. I use fabric, wallpaper or wrapping paper and a large velvet ribbon in a statement colour to tie the ends.
For the tablecloth, I recently commissioned a wonderful artist called Lucy Auge (lucyauge.co.uk) to hand paint a design on brown craft paper. It’s eco-friendly and easy – all you need is some natural paint and a friend who can draw!
I also like to make initialled napkins (anthropologie.com sells fabric letters that you can stick on), and I finish off the look with hand-tied bunches of flowers, herbs or even holly sprigs.
For the meal it helps to keep things straightforward. I always cook something that’s already in my repertoire and although I love a fancy cocktail, I find that flavoured G&Ts with homemade syrup or a glass of prosecco jazzed up with pomegranate seeds work just as well.
How to make cosy cool? The weathered woods of this ultra-chic loft space are warmed up even more by sheepskins and shades of amber and gold. Oversized circus-light letters and bare-bulb fairy lights add a touch of fun. For similar wooden dining benches, try coxandcox.co.uk. For similar circus lights, try rocketandrye.co.uk.
Report by Nicole Gray