Create a table centre-piece
Glitz is out this Christmas, according to Barnes: “If you’ve got a long table, cut a branch off any evergreen tree and lay it down the centre,” she says. “Then decorate it with ornamental cabbages, artichoke heads – building up a textual arrangement costs nothing and looks incredible.” Laying an antler in the centre of the table is another dramatic option (from £25; Horn Carver).
Rather than worrying about a tablecloth, the designer Matilda Goad suggests making a table runner using brown parcel paper. “They’re super easy and cheap,” she says. “You can run them down the table over a tablecloth and write guests’ names at each place setting, paint them with gold stars or even cut the edge in a scallop shape. If you don’t want to use brown paper, you could use leftover wallpaper.”
Floral stylist Willow Crossley, recommends block printing your own napkins. “It’s so much easier than you’d imagine: just get pieces of linen and use stamps dipped in fabric paint to make a pattern,” she explains. “I like to use paisley, but stars and hearts also look good.” A range of Indian wood printing blocks, and fabric paint, are available at Arty Crafty.
Inspired by the catwalks from previous years, Crossley has tied up her napkins with enormous velvet ribbons. But in the past, she has made her own napkin rings. “Buy any old plastic napkin ring, wrap it in green floristry tape then stick on berries and acorns and miniature feathers using a glue gun,” she says. Etsy sells an abundance of this kind of embellishment, as does Floristry Warehouse.
Rosemary twigs can also be used to make napkin rings (and candle collars), says Liz Earle of Liz Earle Wellbeing. “Bend the twig into a circle and fix both ends together with artificial berries on wire,” she explains. Such berries can be found at Floristry Warehouse. Earle also creates pine-cone table settings by painting cones with silver paint and using glitter glue to fix name cards into the cone scales.