Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to lay on the festive style with a terrific table setting.

THE festive season is almost upon us, which means it’s time to step up to the table - and transform it into a stunning setting for the most important meal of the day (or of the year, really).

Choose from a colour scheme of silver, gold or classic red and white (maybe with a dash of Highland tartan) for a Christmas table that will attract just as many compliments as the food.

We’ve already scoped out the best buys on the high street; all you need to do is choose your favourites, and then pop on some carols and set the scene...

Set a silver shimmer

“Forget any minimalist tendencies and go all out with the glamour and sparkle this Christmas. Gold or silver are festive favourites, but this year, also consider introducing dark, moody tones,” says Clare Harris, managing director at Talking Tables (talkingtables.co.uk).

“A grey or even black tablecloth creates a dramatic backdrop, and shows off your table decorations more effectively than white. If you’re going for a single colour, use a mix of textures and finishes.

“A collection of beautiful mercury glass baubles moves a silver scheme from classic to contemporary, especially with the introduction of glittering disco balls.

“Surprise your guests by taking your table scheme in new directions,” she adds.

“Clusters of paper honeycomb, and pom-pom decorations hung overhead, are a new approach to table decorating, which saves crucial table space and elevates the setting.”

TIP: Iridescent decorations are particularly effective at picking up the light and work beautifully with silver tones.

Choose a variety of shapes and sizes, hang from the ceiling with clear wire and attach with removable sticky hooks. For a super-glamorous party-feel, hang a metallic foil curtain behind your table.

Basildon Standard:

Have your table shine like a star

Go for glittering gold

“The Christmas table is an opportunity to go completely OTT and let your creative flair run wild. The whole day is about extravagance, indulgence and glamour, so I love to go a little crazy with the decorating,” says Jenny Hurren, founder of Out There Interiors (outthereinteriors.com).

“The food is a beautiful sight in itself, but why not add some glitz and glamour to the proceedings and adorn the table with beautiful place settings, decorative touches and ‘the decent’ china?

“My favourite is gold-painted twigs and foliage,” adds Jenny. “Eucalyptus leaves look stunning with a touch of gold spray paint.

Run a few sprigs along the middle of the table, intertwining them through glass stems, around dishes and bowls and dangle them off the end.

Use small bunches of them tied with ribbon and a named luggage label as a truly personal place setting.

“If you have the space, add a statement centre piece, such as a quirky gold pineapple, and team the whole look with fresh white linens and elegant glassware.”

TIP: Arrange a procession of candle holders of varying heights down the centre of the table. Clear glass holders, mirrored place mats and metallic table scatter will reflect the light and add glamour.

Stay true to tradition

“Always start with a theme and keep to one or two key colours, and then build up the setting. Have in mind the general look you want to achieve, for example classic red and white, rustic, opulent or minimal,” says Danielle Tolson, co-founder of Tolly McRae (tollymcrae.co.uk), specialists in luxury table linen, among other things.

Basildon Standard:

Red, white and tartan - these touches make for a truly traditional table

“This year, I’ll be using gold as the core theme, with dusky pink accents, and I’m going for an overall opulent effect. More is more as far as I’m concerned, and our table will be crammed with flickering candles, sparkling cutlery and glasses.

“For a centrepiece, a glass bowl filled with pine cones, baubles or even a foliage garland is effective. Alternatively, lightly spray fruit - pomegranates, pineapples and other exotic fruit - with gold paint and arrange in a clear glass bowl.

Add a string of twinkling fairy lights.”

TIP: Fill miniature bottles with a special tipple and write each guest’s name on it using a metallic Sharpie pen; these will serve as both a place card and a sweet favour.