Tips for Christmas Table Decorating

Christine Law

Posted on 20 November 2021

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Tips for Christmas table decorating

If you know me, you’ll know I’m a bit of a Christmas Fairy.  I’ve always loved decorating the house, cooking some yummy desserts and prepping for the big day.  I always involved my children in the preparations and made sure they felt as much excitement as possible.  We’d play Christmas music in the house from 1 Dec (yes I’m one of those!)  and we always have a real tree.  Mess and all!

Over the years I’ve prided myself on setting a colour scheme for the gift wrapping and setting a lovely table for Christmas lunch based on the same colour scheme as my wrapping for the year.  I did my best to make sure everything was perfect, like a magazine!  The kids say I’d even rewrap a gift if it appeared under the tree, and it didn’t match my theme – but I dispute that - surely I wasn’t that bad…

The years have gone by quickly and I’ve learned quite a few tricks along the way, and I thought I’d share some of them with you here.

1 – Use wrapping paper on your table… Lay the table with a plain cloth – white, linen, red or green.  Then use a roll of wrapping paper as a table runner.  It’s a fast and effective way of creating a huge impact with very little cost and the possibilities are almost endless.  You could choose a plain colour or patterned, it's up to you and the look you’re after.   Depending on the paper, sometimes I’ve secured it in place with some double-sided tape.  So it’s good to have some on hand to save stressing on the day, if your paper’s moving about a bit much.  Using the paper runner means it’s fast and easy to clean up after the festivities and it goes a long way in preserving your linen from the spoils of a hearty lunch. 

2 – Use real decorations… yes on the table as well.  Sprinkle baubles or pieces of tinsel, garlands etc down the centre of the table to make it look fun and festive.  Sometimes the weirder the better, it’s great fun for the children to see mum go a little mad even if only once a year.  And don't forget to vary the height.  Some taller items will make your table more exciting.

3 – Tinsel can be a napkin ring… It doesn’t matter if you use cloth or paper napkins, but if you roll them and tie them with a piece of tinsel or ribbon, they will look magical.

4 – Collect Christmas themed candlestick holders… I shop the sales after Christmas looking for Christmas themed items.  I look for quality pieces but wait until they are reduced.  I have a collection of Gold, Silver, Red & Silver etc Candle stick holders that only come out at Christmas, but each year it will be a different look.  Just two candles on the table is enough to make an impact.  I usually go to a candle shop to get a couple of tapers in my colour scheme.  If you have a long table, a few small water glasses with tea light candles inside will look amazing too.  If you prefer a tea light holder, we have some for sale here...

5 – Naughty & Nice…  If you’re expecting a crowd make two lots of punch – One with alcohol, one without and make little labels Naughty and Nice.  That way your guests can choose a festive drink and monitor their alcohol intake.  It’s also great for the children too, they can have some just like the adults. 


My favourite things to cook...

I’m not much of a cook, if I didn’t have Mr Outdoor Table to feed me, I’d pretty much survive on toast with maybe the odd pot of soup every now and again!  But at Christmas time I do like to make sweet treats.  My absolute favourite thing to make ahead of time is mince tarts.  I found a recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Christmas 1999 edition. I still have the magazine, the pages are old and yellowing now, but I refer to the recipe every year.  And now I’m sharing it with you …

Bite Size Fruit Mince Tarts  

Christmas mince tarts

Preparation time: 20 mins    Cooking time:  15 Minutes     Makes: 12.

You’ll need:

1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup sultanas
¼ cup chopped blanched almonds
½ green apple, peeled cored, grated
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons rum
2 sheets frozen, ready-rolled short crust pastry, thawed
1 ½ tablespoons raspberry jam, warmed
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons icing sugar, sifted for serving.



  1. Preheat oven to 180 Combine currants, sultanas, almonds, apple sugar, cinnamon, rind and rum.  Cover and stand for 30 mins. 
  2. Take one sheet of pastry, cut 12 rounds using a 6cm fluted cutter. From the remaining sheet, cut 12 stars with a 5cm star cutter.
  3. Place pastry rounds into greased shallow patty tins. Brush each pastry round lightly with jam (not too much).  Spoon in fruit mix.  Brush both sides of pastry stars with egg white, then place over the fruit, pressing the points of the stars into the pastry shell.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven 12 – 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven.  Cool on a rack.  Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Note:  Tarts will keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days.  They can be frozen.


Tip:  I love, love, love these tarts.  But I’m not a huge fan of cooking, so I make 2, 3 or even 4 times the mixture all at once, to save on the effort.  I also freeze some, so I can enjoy them with a cup of tea well after Christmas time has passed.

The fruit mince will keep in the fridge for a while, so you could make the mince one night after work, and then have it ready for baking on the weekend.


Christmas Tree Gateau

I’ve been making this Gorgeous Christmas Tree Gateaux for years now.  It doesn’t make it on the menu every Christmas, but it gets requested more often than not.  It looks absolutely amazing, everybody thinks I’m soooo clever - but if I can make it, then you know it’s really quite easy to do.  I make the meringue a day or two ahead of time, store in an airtight container and then assemble on the day.  I found the recipe in a Family Circle magazine from more than 20 years ago too, must have been when I had time to read magazines! 

Here’s how to make it:

Christmas Tree Gateau

You’ll need:

6 eggwhites
1 ¾ cups caster sugar
200gm dark cooking chocolate, chopped
60 gm butter
11/2 cups thickened cream, whipped
250gm blueberries
250gm strawberries quartered


  1. Preheat oven to slow 150 Combine eggwhites and sugar in a large bowl.  Beat with electric beaters on low speed for 2 mins or until mixture is combined.  Increase speed and mix for 20 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a spatula.  Mixture should be thick and glossy.
  2. Line 3 oven trays with baking paper. Draw an 18cm and 21cm circle on two of the trays.  Draw a 15cm circle and a 12 cm star on the remaining tray.  Spread the meringue mixture proportionally over the circles and star.  Bake small circle and star for 30 – 40 minutes and large circles for 50 minutes or until hollow when tapped.  Turn off the oven and allow the meringue to cool with the door ajar.
  3. Combine chocolate and butter in a small pan. Stir over low heat until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Cool until mixture just starts to thicken.  Place the largest circle on a serving plate.  Layer with some of the chocolate mixture, whipped cream and berries.  Repeat layering using medium circle, followed by the small circle and finally the star, ending with Cream on the top.  Decorate top of the gateau with sugared blueberries.

To make Sugared Blueberries

You’ll need:

Whole blueberries
Egg white
Caster Sugar


  1. Lightly whisk eggwhite until frothy. Place sugar in a small bowl.  Using a small paint brush, brush eggwhite onto fruits.
  2. Toss fruits 1 at a time into sugar, toss to coat, stand on baking paper until dry. Use them to decorate your Gateau.


I hope you have lots of fun decorating and baking...  Whatever your table looks like this year, and however you choose to celebrate; I trust you will have a lovely safe and fun Christmas time full of family, good friends, laughter and happiness.

Take care 






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