The best way to make your family and friends feel special at this time of the year is by taking the time to set a Christmas table.
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A feast for the senses
You could be forgiven for thinking that Cape Town designer Danela Conti celebrates Christmas all year round. Her bold choice of turquoise walls and red and white striped chairs sets a festive vibe every day, but at Christmas she gilds the lily. “Inspired by the slipcovers, I decided on a theme of whimsical stripes. To appeal to children of all ages, I found dancing elves in striped sweaters, which I placed on the plates and arranged red and white roses in striped grass cupholders,” she explains.
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To give the table height, she placed mirrored boxes in the centre on which she placed gold and white ornaments. “I like traditional place settings with linen napkins and cutlery for each course – this year I used gold.” A combination of gold-edged white plates, red floral ones and ruby glasses enhances the luxe look.
Forming a stunning backdrop to the setting is Danela’s unusual fawn Christmas tree. “I had it made 20 years ago and I never tire of it. Every year I add to the decorations with pieces I’ve found on my travels and special family trinkets. My children and I also love to shop for fun Christmas goodies,” says Danela who usually hosts a big family affair on Christmas Day.
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A sparkling affair
As the French-style dining room in her Jo’burg house features natural materials such as raw brick and wood, and cream furnishings, interior decorator Yvette Wheatley decided on a calming mix of neutrals and greenery for her table. “I started with a linen tablecloth on which I placed matt black crockery and gold cutlery for glamour,” she explains. “The foliage, which includes penny gum, brings the table to life and offsets the vases of white flowers.” Adding height to the setting are white candles in elegant glass candleholders, which, together with fairy lights wound through the greenery, gold reindeer ornaments and bowls of gold chocolates, add to the magical atmosphere.
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Yvette made name tags for each setting with black cardstock and a gold pen and placed sprigs of foliage on them. “I love creating a sense of occasion,” she says. “This year, we’ll be hosting Christmas Eve dinner here and spending Christmas Day relaxing by the pool.”
In the pink
“I love antiques and I’ve furnished my home with special pieces that all have a history,” says Durban textile and accessories designer Lou Harvey, referring to the Georgian dining chairs and crystal chandelier in her dining room. These were the starting point for the feminine pink, white and aqua theme, which complements the formal nature of the black and white chequerboard floor.
Lou loves all things pink, pretty and girly and combined all three in her table setting. Assisted by Tailor My Table, she mixed a ‘tree’ made from tulle with fragrant lilies in crystal vases while glass baubles and silver candelabra add to the sense of abundance. “Christmas is the perfect excuse to bring out the heirloom china, good silverware and crystal glasses,” says Lou. “For each setting, I included a snowflake decoration, which offsets the pink and white napery, and a jewelled pomegranate.”
Highlighted against a wall covered in Lou’s new wallpaper, a white Christmas tree decorated in shades of pink and silver is flanked by jars of baubles and marshmallows. “Candles add to the romantic atmosphere and I light those in the candelabra on the table just before the guests arrive for Christmas Eve dinner,” says Lou.