The festive season might still be a way off, but planning your Christmas centerpiece ideas in advance is one way to ensure your Christmas dining table looks its best come 25th December.
When it comes to Christmas decorating ideas, the plan for your table might understandably fall to the wayside, often replaced with Christmas tree decorating ideas and plans (if you’re already on the hunt for a tree, why not see our guides to the best artificial Christmas trees and the best real Christmas trees here), but it shouldn’t be forgotten about. Interior designer and co-founder of award-winning independent gifts and interior retailer, La Di Da Interiors, Steph Briggs points out, it’s a major part of Christmas Day for most of us. She told w&h, “The table is the real centerpiece for several hours on Christmas Day, and often a few more days around it. This is where so many fun memories are made, so make sure you elevate it to a magical experience.”
While placemats and cutlery are of course a Christmas table staple, a special, festive centerpiece is what will take yours to the next level, to create a memorable experience for all of your guests. But how should you go about creating yours?
Planning a Christmas centerpiece—initial considerations
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Planning your Christmas centerpiece before you get started is a good idea, as it'll allow you to focus on your creative vision and not get lost in all the possible different possibilities. Give it some consideration beforehand, and it'll pay off in droves. We asked the experts what the most important things are to remember when planning a Christmas centerpiece and what you might need before you get started.
The good news is that having a simple focal point, like a box, tray or even a ready-made Christmas wreath is a great place to start and building out from there is a really simple and effective way to make an impact come Christmas Day. According to our interiors experts, there are four key things to consider when planning a Christmas centerpiece:
- Building your centerpiece around one item—when it comes to planning, it can be helpful to base your centerpiece around one single item, and build out from there. Jess Martin, decoration expert at Ginger Ray explains, “The simplest way to plan a Christmas centerpiece is to pick one piece you absolutely love and build the rest of the table around that. Whether that is a garland, a tablecloth, or some beautiful candles—choose other items that tie into those key colors."
- Decide on your color palette first—in a similar vein, deciding on your color palette beforehand can be very useful. Xander Shreenan, an interior designer at home décor brand Dowsing & Reynolds, said, “When it comes to planning centerpieces, a good place to start is with the color palette you have chosen. Try to keep within this theme, and use textures and colors in the same palette for a unified look.” Start with a neutral shade, like sage green or navy, and build metallics, lights, and glitter on top.
- Consider the size of your space—Anna Eklöv, Founder of LÖV Letterbox Flowers, also noted that taking into account the size of your space is vital. "The main thing is to see what size and shape your centerpiece should be—and this depends on the size and shape of your table. Do you have a round table? In that case, your centerpiece should be round. If you are having a long rectangular table, then you can either go with a long centerpiece, or two-three smaller ones depending on the length of the table."
"Most importantly," Martin said, "always consider conversation and how you will interact over the table. You never want to interrupt the line of sight no matter how fabulous the centerpiece!"
Christmas centerpiece trends for 2021
So what can we expect to see when it comes to Christmas centerpieces this year? How will people be designing theirs, and what do the experts expect will be the trends to follow in 2021?
- Extravagant centerpieces—Martin told w&h, "Gatherings with friends and family will be extra special this year, and tablescapes will likely reflect the occasion. Dinner tables will be transformed and elevated with beautiful tablecloths, personalized place settings, and foliage-strewn centerpieces. Parties are likely to be back in abundance so decor for celebratory gatherings is definitely something to consider. We will be more focused on spending time together, and our decor will reflect this." Eklöv agreed, stating, "This year I think we will see a trend with big and extra festive centerpieces to celebrate the fact that we can be with our loved ones again."
- Modern and minimalist—while some reckon more is more this Christmas when it comes to our tables, Shreenan reckons a considered, minimalist theme will be the way to go for many of us. He said, "I believe monochromatic schemes for centerpieces will reign supreme, along with the use of sustainable materials."
- Dried grass and natural foliage—Gail Wetherell from Rebel Roses, a Spirit of Christmas exhibitor, also noted that the world's recent penchant for dried grasses will likely come in handy for Christmas centerpieces. She said, "Pampas and dried grasses are still a huge trend for this season. So why not borrow some stems from your vases, lay them on the table and then add your foliage and lights on top?"
Christmas centerpiece ideas
Simple Christmas centerpiece ideas
1. Add in mini Christmas trees of varying heights
Nothing says Christmas more than Christmas trees, so why not add some of them to your Christmas centerpiece? Of course, we're not talking full-height Christmas trees, but mini-versions instead. These work well to instantly create a festive tablescape, and come in a variety of different colors—be they traditional green trees, snowy white trees, or even festive red trees. Choose a couple of them, at varying heights, and scatter them throughout the middle of your table for a really impressive centerpiece.
2. Use a tiered tray to add decor to your table
If you're tight on space at your Christmas table, a tiered tray (or even a cake tray), can work wonders for creating an impressive centerpiece. Simply grab one out of your kitchen cupboards and layer on any Christmas decor you have to hand—be it baubles, pine cones, tinsel, or ribbon. It's also a great way to make use of any decor you've not placed elsewhere around your house, or on your tree.
3. Fill a glass jar with a candle and potpourri
This is a really simple idea but it can help you to create a really beautiful centerpiece. If you have a glass jar to hand (or even a vase), why not fill it up with festive foliage and decor items, such as pine cones—or some wintery-looking potpourri? Think dried orange and lemon slices, dried cinnamon sticks, and dried plants and flowers for a rustic look. This will create a Christmas table space with minimal effort. If you have the space, pop a candle into the middle when you're finished for an elegant and cozy effect.
4. Add decor to a tray for a chic minimalist look
For a fuss-free Christmas centerpiece idea, look no further. Centerpieces needn't be complicated—and to create a sleek, minimalist one, all you need to do is pop some of your favorite decor onto a simple tray. Create a festive look by spray-painting the tray silver or white (if it isn't already), and add whatever you have to hand—such as dried fruit, mini Christmas trees, a festive candle, Christmas ornaments, some fairy lights, or even a few baubles. Containing it within the tray gives you an easy way to create a Christmas centerpiece without your decor spilling out of control across the table.
5. Place decor in a box
Another simple idea when creating a Christmas centerpiece idea for the table, is this popular 'decor-in-a-box' trick. All you need to do is find yourself a rustic-looking box—which you can then fill up with festive items like Christmas trees and festive foliage. Place anything you like in here, but make sure it's all displayed at varying heights—having some items in there that are shorter and some that are taller will create an interesting and intriguing tablescape that your guests will be fascinated by.
6. Create a 'deconstructed' wreath on a stylish plate
This Christmas centerpiece idea for the table couldn't be easier—grab a plate (a large, decorative one, rather than one from your kitchen), and assemble a deconstructed wreath for an elegant and understated table decoration. All you need is some sprigs of foliage, some pine cones, and some dried fruit and plant items or potpourri. Scatter your items casually across the plate and place it in the middle of your table for a very low-maintenance idea. You could even replicate it with smaller decorative plates across other surfaces in your home.
Christmas garland centerpiece ideas
7. Suspend foliage and decorations from the ceiling
If you're keen to use a gorgeous, bushy garland for your Christmas centerpiece, but are worried about having enough room at your dining table, why not suspend it above the table for a real show-stopper of a display? Jess Martin, decoration expert at Ginger Ray explained how it can actually be much more practical to do this. She said, "Considering how people interact over the dinner table is really important—you don’t want to block any conversations. You can create a really dramatic look by using a metal table clamp to elevate a centerpiece without interfering with lines of sight."
8. Put tapered candles inside a thick wreath
Why not draw attention to your layered garland by creating differing lines of sight? An easy way to do this is to add candles (or any sort, but we love these tapered candles in slick candle holders), which will add a bit of drama to a wreath that will mostly only be at table level. Opt for elegant and stylish candle holders that fit with the color scheme of your wreath too, to create a really coordinated look.
9. Drape your garland off the table for a luxury feel
For an added bit of drama, why not choose an oversized garland that will reach down to the floor? Gail Wetherell noted, "Foliage is a must for Christmas. By mixing different varieties, textures, and tones, you can easily create a 3D effective showstopper." Not only does it look amazing, but it'll extend your decor into the often-forgotten sides of your Christmas dining table. Jess Martin told w&h, "We love a faux foliage garland. They look great draped down the center of a table and onto the floor, and will last the whole festive period without shedding—and one with lights embedded into it can look even better."
10. Place a neutral table runner under your garland
If you're looking to add texture and layers to your centerpiece, drape your garland/foliage over a neutral table runner for a really put-together look. Handily, it'll also give you a good indication of how much space you have to play with when setting up the rest of your centerpiece, or for placing any candles along the middle of your table.
11. Embrace a thinner, pared-back garland (with a touch of sparkle)
Of course, garlands as centerpieces don't need to be huge and oversized to make a statement. If you prefer a minimal look or don't have as much space at your table, why not use a thinner garland (we love the shimmery, sparkly look of this one), that's just as impressive but leaves a lot more room for your food and drink?
12. Use fairy lights as your garland
Of course, fairly lights could even be assembled across your table in place of a garland too. Steph Briggs said, "Ensuring there is plenty of space for the food, wind delicate fairy lights across the table. You can also add sparkle with some of those hero piece tree decorations that will continue your theme." Gail added, "Twinkling fairy lights added to foliage can lift and brighten the whole centerpiece and stop it looking too “blocky” if you are only using one color. Use warm white lights as others tend to have a blue tone to them"
Christmas mason jar centerpiece ideas
13. Fill mason jars with festive foliage
Mason jars are an excellent way to create a striking and cozy Christmas centerpiece inexpensively and with minimal effort. We love the idea of adding some seasonal foliage to the jars, such as berries and holly, to create a really festive look. Then, simply line them up together on top of a table runner for a DIY but beautiful centerpiece.
14. Place candles in your mason jars
Of course, another way to jazz up mason jars so that they work for a Christmas centerpiece is to put candles inside them. Tea light candles are simple and inexpensive, but you could also try placing larger white candles in there too. If you want the candle light to be further up the jar, why not pad it out with some faux snow, too, to create a really lovely look?
15. Pop fairy lights inside your jars
Fairy lights never fail at Christmas time, and while they look great on their own, they can also look fabulous placed inside a mason jar. Make sure you have a short string of fairy lights that will fit inside your jar, and you're good to go! You could even elevate the look by placing bits of mini festive decor in there too, such as faux snow and mini Christmas trees. You could scatter these throughout the middle of your table, alongside other items, or have them be the stand-out star of the show by placing them in the middle alongside candles and a table runner.
16. Create a festive snowy mason jar for your centerpiece
Another way to elevate your mason jars so that they are Christmas centerpiece worthy is to adorn them with fake snow, so they look as though they've been left outside in a storm for too long. This is easy to do—simply apply a thin layer of glue around your mason jar, and combine your faux snow (you can buy this in most craft shops), with some glitter. Then, roll your mason jar in the snow and glitter mixture (do this quickly, before it dries!), and leave to set. Decorate the jar with a bow and/or a label and you're good to go.
Christmas candle centerpiece ideas
17. Place candles on upside down wine glasses
Candles are a formative part of any Christmas centerpiece, and there are lots of different ways you can include them in yours. Why not try this inventive idea, by placing tealights on top of wine glasses? (that you aren't using to drink from, of course!) Fill the inside of the glass with baubles before lighting your candles and adorn the entire centerpiece with foliage or Christmas ribbons for a unique centerpiece idea. Our guide to the best scented candles, best aromatherapy candles, and best Diptyque candles is a good place to start your candle research for the holidays.
18. Put a candle on a wooden board alongside other decor items
Similar to our tray idea above, candles can look great as part of a centerpiece created on a wooden board or plank, such as this one. You can buy these wood slices from all good DIY retailers, and they're great for creating a festive centerpiece given how similar they look to the trunks of Christmas trees. Once you've got yours, add as many of your favorite candles as you like, and fill in the gaps with remaining Christmas decor such as mini Christmas trees.
19. Utilize flameless candles for homes with children
For those that may feel a little nervous about using candles, and therefore having live flames at the dinner table (e.g those with kids or pets), why not try flameless candles? Many of them are super-realistic nowadays and look just as lovely as real ones—so much so we bet your guests won't even notice the difference. Of course, the big bonus is that they remove the fire risk—but they're also great in allowing you to move your centerpiece around as much as you like without worrying about burning yourself on a live flame. See our guide to the best flameless candles here, to buy some for your centerpiece.
20. Pop candles inside Christmas wreaths
Jess explained, "Using a Christmas wreath as a table centerpiece can also work well, and it's a great idea to team it with some candles." To create a really impressive look, why not place a few larger candles around the wreath? Or, Jess suggests, "Try placing a hurricane vase with a candle inside in the center to create a warm glow."
21. Use tapered candles in varying heights for your centerpiece
Tapered candles are a brilliant Christmas centerpiece idea as they look really elegant and regal, but are inexpensive to buy and easy to assemble. Scatter some across the middle of your table or place them inside a garland or a wreath for an equally lovely centerpiece look. Again, ensure they come in varying heights, to create a more dramatic and impressive effect.
Christmas centerpiece flower ideas
22. Place minimalist faux festive berries in a vase
You might not have considered flowers or plants or your festive centerpiece, but they can really elevate the space in an instant. And for a low-maintenance option, don't be afraid of faux flowers. Steph Briggs said, "Flowers are lovely but don’t have to be fresh—faux flowers have come a long way in the last few years and are a game-changer as can be prepped ahead for a low maintenance day."
We love the idea of placing few delicate flowers, or some faux festive berries into a glass vase for a really striking look. This is a great centerpiece option if you prefer a more minimalist Christmas centerpiece too. This would form the main part of your centerpiece, so decorate the rest of your table with fairy lights and candles to continue the minimalist theme.
23. Create a bouquet with white flowers and festive foliage
Creating a floral bouquet is one of the best ways to create a Christmas centerpiece—as it's incredibly striking and most obviously draws the eye to the table. Anna said, "Flowers add a fun and surprising element to traditional Christmas decorations, as well as sweet scents around the table. I love to add a couple of large red roses, dark red calla lilies, or red Love-Lies-Bleeding (Amaranthus) in traditional themed centerpieces, as well as natural themed ones. And if you'd prefer not to go for traditional red and white, but a more modern look? "For centerpieces in silver and white I would suggest sticking to white winter flowers such as delicate hellebore, snowberries, or white astilbe that I find resembles a pine branch covered in snow," Anna said.
24. Add Christmas candy to your floral bouquet
If a floral bouquet will form the main part of your Christmas centerpiece, why not have a bit of fun with it and decorate with festive candy? Candy canes for example are both delicious and aesthetically pleasing, creating a fun red and white theme within your centerpiece. You could hang them around the outside of your vase, as above, or place them at the bottom of the vase. Or, why not scatter them across the rest of your table, for a tasty treat at the end of your meal?
What do I need to create a Christmas centerpiece?
Of course, you can buy ready-made centerpieces, but if you’re keen to put together your own, there are a few essentials you should have to hand. Grab something to display yours on, like a vase or pretty plate (or just your table top), and then get ready to layer up the following items to create a wonderful, striking centerpiece.
- Christmas wreath—this can easily be the main focal point around which to build your centerpiece. Just make sure you choose one that will fit on your table!
- Faux flowers—flowers aren’t just for spring—pick the right color palette and they’ll work beautifully for Christmas too. Think festive reds and greens.
- Fir cones and foilage—bring the outdoors in with some seasonal greenery and festive fir cones.
- Garland—a green, bushy garland is a strong choice for a Christmas centerpiece or table decor in general. It works like a table runner and will fit perfectly down the center of your table.
- Fairy lights—nothing creates ambiance like mood lighting, and for Christmas, twinkly fairy lights are perfect at conjuring up that magical, wintery feel.
- Candles—of course, candles are a must-have for your Christmas centerpiece—whether you choose some elegant tea lights or bigger, show-stopping candelabras.
- Christmas trees—for an extra festive touch you can’t go wrong with a smattering of Christmas trees on your table. And no, we’re not talking about the life-size ones—you can easily pick up miniature versions which will help you to create your own winter wonderland.
With thanks to Jess Martin, decoration expert at Ginger Ray (opens in new tab), Xander Shreenan, interior designer at home décor brand Dowsing & Reynolds (opens in new tab), Steph Briggs, interior designer and co-founder of award-winning independent gifts and interior retailer, La Di Da Interiors (opens in new tab), Anna Eklöv, Founder of LÖV Letterbox Flowers (opens in new tab), and Gail Wetherell from Rebel Roses (opens in new tab)who will be exhibiting at the Spirit of Christmas Fair (opens in new tab) from 1–7 November at Olympia London—for their time and expertise for this piece.
Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on womanandhome.com.
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