There’s something magical about sitting down to a formal Christmas table to enjoy a delicious festive feast.

If you immediately associate stiff silver-plated settings and candelabras with formal fare, then think again because there are plenty of options for creating stylish but elegant table settings, perfect for sophisticated dining.

We created an elaborate table using traditional colours and beautiful crockery, glassware and sparkling accessories.

The best way to make certain your formal table comes together well is to set a colour theme and stick to it as much as possible. This will ensure the overall look is a cohesive treat.

Gone are the days when red and pink could not be combined. Our setting uses this bold combination with a touch of gold and silver to create a sumptuous arrangement.

We started with a red tablecloth from Myer and added a table runner we made ourselves. (See below for instructions.)

The different ribbons used on the table runner provide a vibrant and interesting mix of colour and texture and the runner forms the backbone of the design.

On the centre of the table runner we put a handmade Christmas tree, assembled from a collection of a foam cone and glass Christmas baubles.

(For more instructions for this project, also see below.)

A handful of glass candle holders were scattered along the length of the table runner and we nestled some cute red and pink Christmas tree candles from David Jones alongside them.

If you are worried your table is cluttered, remember that when it comes to Christmas, more is definitely more.

At this point, it is a good idea to stand back and have a look at your creation. You will notice that from a distance, there is not as much on the table as you thought. Another good idea is to take a snap from a digital camera, this might help you get a more objective view.

After we were happy with the centre of the table, we started to set each place with a collection of plates by Marie Claire and Rhubarb. If you are willing to think outside the square, you will find that unusual combinations like the elegant sparkling Marie Claire plates and the more playful striped red plates by Rhubarb often look great.

We added Joy ruby red glasses from David Jones which really helped give extra impact, especially when teamed with our easy-to-make votive place settings.

Finally, we topped each place with an exquisite handmade bonbon and added an elaborately beaded butterfly decoration to the side of each glass. It is a good idea to take another look at the decorations from your Christmas tree and see how they could be utilised on the table. Often a clear crystal salad bowl or vase can be filled with baubles and added to the table for spectacular effect. Another idea is to drape fairy lights along the length of the table, the impact of this is even better if you have a plain glass mirror that you can run down the length of the table as a table runner.

On our table, the candle place settings, handmade bonbons and beaded decorations all double as little gifts your guests can take home as a reminder of the day.

If you are worried your table is cluttered, remember that when it comes to Christmas, more is definitely more.

Votive holders

Print out the names of your guests horizontally on to some pretty paper and cut each name into strips, leaving plenty of paper (about 15cm) at the end of the name. Wrap the strips of paper around a votive candle holder and secure with tape. Decorate the join with a piece of ribbon tied into a bow.

Table runner

To make the table runner, buy 2m of fabric in a colour that co-ordinates with your theme. You will also need a selection of ribbons in different widths, colours and finishes which measure about 2.1m each.

Cut the fabric to a width that suits your needs and hem the lengths, leaving the ends untouched.

Measure the centre point and pin one of your ribbon lengths down the middle of the fabric lengthwise, using the weave of the fabric as a guide to keep it straight. Pin the remaining lengths parallel, then using a sewing machine, sew directly through the middle of each strip of ribbon.

Finally hem the ends of the runner so all the ends are finished off. If you are feeling crafty, you could thread a short string of beads and stitch these by hand to the end of each hemmed strip of ribbon.

Bauble tree

Fasten a selection of coloured glass baubles to a tall polystyrene cone (available from Spotlight), using lengths of wire. There are two ways you can do this, either position each bauble individually by bending a piece of wire, hooking it through the hanger on the bauble and pushing the wire into the foam or you can thread baubles on to a longer piece of jewellery or florist wire and wrap the length around the cone as if wrapping a garland around an ordinary tree. For the best effect, paint the cone in a colour that matches your scheme because it is difficult to get the baubles to completely cover the whole area.

© The West Australian

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