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Avoca hannah whelan
Hannah Whelan

Top tips for the perfect festive table

Avoca’s Hannah Whelan shares some great advice for creating a perfect tablescape this Christmas


The lists are made (hopefully) and you know what you'll be cooking on December 25th but what about the all-important Christmas table? It's a key focal point of the celebrations and a chance to get really creative too. 

We asked Hannah Whelan, Head of Visual Merchandising at Avoca, for her top tips for creating a gorgeous festive table. She’s also shared some great advice on making this year feel special even though it may not be a usual Christmas Day for many of us. 

1.What are your top tips for creating a welcoming dining table?

The most important thing is an inviting space where people feel comfortable enough to relax and enjoy themselves. This can be achieved by something as simple as keeping your centrepiece and candles low enough so that your guests can see each other across the table and can enjoy each other's company. (Try Ester & Erik candles.) Decorate your table in keeping with your own personal style and décor. This comes more naturally and ensures your table will fit in effortlessly with your surroundings and the style of your home.

2. Are there any things people should avoid doing?

A good rule of thumb is that functionality is just as important as creativity when it comes to table dressing. It can be easy to get carried away and overdress our tables, but it's good to remember that less is more, and it really is all about the food! The most important thing is that your guests have enough space to relax and enjoy their meal without feeling cramped or crowded by a fussy table.

3. Is it important to choose a theme or colour scheme?

Picking a theme brings imagination to the dining experience. At Christmas, people tend to stick to the traditional red and gold, but why not get creative and introduce some brighter colours with a table runner, napkins, candles, winter berries or Christmas decorations? The opportunities are endless, and it's all about having fun.

4. Are there key steps people tend to overlook?

A great tablecloth – it can be the base of the whole look. I like to use a natural linen one that goes well with most styles or colour schemes then add texture, colour and greenery afterwards. Harmony is a great brand that I love. Lighting for a Christmas table is simple, and an abundance of twinkling candles at varying heights creates so much atmosphere and magic. Alternatively, a little string of fairy lights down the centre of the table entwined in greenery and berries makes a lovely addition to any table.

5. What should people invest in?

If you plan on changing your theme or colour scheme each Christmas, it's a good idea to have the basics that you can use time and time again. A big statement serving dish is a must, some great serving spoons and elegant glassware are a few of the most important things that can shape any beautiful table setting. New at Avoca this Christmas is our rescue glassware. It’s handcrafted using the wine and water bottles from our restaurants and cafés. It’s a contemporary take on glassware and adds a nice table talking point! I would recommend investing in some good napkins to add colour to your tablescape, as well as glass vases for interchangeable flower arrangements. These always come in useful and can be used all year round.

6. Do you have any advice for people who may have to rework their Christmas dinner traditions this year but still want to keep things special?

This year will be very different for many of us but I think it's still important to keep traditions alive as much as possible. Setting the table for fewer people may leave more room for creativity and more 'fluff and puff'! If certain family members are unable to join this year, a nice idea could be to include something in the table setting as a little ode to them. This could be a place setting, a framed photograph, or a keepsake that reminds you of them. You could even read a poem they love before dinner or toast to them with their favourite drink. There are so many small things we can do to make things as special as possible this year. Hopefully, next Christmas we will see a return to 'normality' and enjoy full tummies around a full table once again!

Brands mentioned are available at Avoca