With the festive season comes the nation’s favourite sport. No, I’m not talking about the World Cup, I’m talking about judging people’s roast dinner pictures on Instagram. While this judgement is usually laid at the dinner’s door, there’s so much more to it than that.
We’ve all followed so many foodstagrams and chef-luencers and curated dining accounts by now (my personal favourite is @tablescapeluvr, what about you?) that we’ve learned to carefully mop up spills from the edges of plates, drizzle sauces over food instead of drowning it, and place the expensive glass of fizz just in shot.
In short, we’ve all become amateur tablescapers and, by extension, tablescape judgers.
So how can you win the real competition this Christmas, the festive decor World Cup? One word: florals. For winter? I know, groundbreaking.
We’ve got the inside scoop on the best festive floral aesthetics from Lauren Eastwood at Wild At Heart, one of the UK’s most celebrated florist brands and the brainchild of legendary florist Nikki Tibbles. Eastwood has been a florist for 16 years, starting out at her local florists in Wroxham, Norfolk, before eventually making her way to Wild At Heart two years ago.
“You want to start by creating a scented base,” says Eastwood, “we’re thinking pine and eucalyptus.” Next, she advises a scattering of dried fruits for variation in colour as well as any residual warming smells. “So orange, apple, lime, we use all of those in our [Wild At Heart] Christmas wreaths too.” This first layer is all selected with longevity in mind. “All these things are going to last for the festive season”, Eastwood says, so you can be a bit more sustainable in your ’scaping.
Then you’ll need to create height so your tablescape isn’t all on one level. “For this, adding little potted plants is a really nice option – mini Christmas trees or hellebores will work really well,” says Eastwood. To build height further, she advises making use of your glassware – especially cut red glass if it suits your colour scheme – and adding rosehips, red ranunculus and red anemones to vases across the table.
Eastwood suggests deep reds, winter wonderland whites or natural greens and earth tones as the best colour schemes for your festive tablescape.
And of course you need a centrepiece. Consider taking your traditional Christmas wreath down from its door hanging outpost and giving it a cosy upgrade to the centre of your dinner table, with a candle in the centre (a tall one — no tablescape fires here, please). And if you want to level it up further? Make the wreath yourself.
“A suitable foliage for your base, such as a Christmas pine, is key to making a strong wreath,” explains Eastwood. You also need moss to keep the wreath damp, so the foliage stays fresh.
Next, get to layering. Eastwood notes eucalyptus, odd leaves and anything you can forage from your garden as worthy additions. Finally, it’s time to add your sprigs of berries and candle in the case of a tablescape wreath, or baubles for a hanging wreath.
As for Christmas bouquets, Lauren is a fan of poinsettias but warns they “come in and out of fashion”. (Cut poinsettias are an alternative and can be used for decoration, you just have to seal the stem). Instead, she encourages people to consider buying bulbs as Christmas gifts rather than bouquets. “I love a scented bulb, something that can come into bloom – like a narcissi or a hyacinth, or tall Christmas plants such as rosehips and cotinus.”
Pay attention, your Christmas Instagram will thank you.