2. Don't forget the basics
There’s nothing like a dinner party to reveal the missing gaps in your cutlery drawer. Do a stocktake now and replace anything that’s gone astray over the year. Consider all the courses you’ll be serving – are oyster forks or butter knives required? – and don’t neglect servingware: there’s never been a better excuse to nab those Georg Jensen salad servers you’ve had your eye on.
3. Set the scene with fragrance
There are some scents that instantly create a festive mood. Think citrus, and warm spices. “Always match the candles to the mood you want to create,” says Clare Patience, marie claire lifestyle editor. We love the Jo Malone London Pine & Eucalyptus collection of candles and room sprays (a brilliant option if you’re not getting a real tree, as the gorgeous pine scent is the next best thing) and the Jo Malone London Orange Bitters candle.
And when setting the table, don’t discount the intimacy that masses of flickering candles can create. Bonus: everyone looks better in candlelight
4. Trade in tinsel for fresh flowers
Choose either a statement centerpiece or a row of single stems in clusters of glass vases, interwoven with candles along the table. Ask your florist for seasonal blooms, but avoid anything that will compete, fragrance-wise, with your candles. Also be wary of tall arrangements, which can block your guests’ views across the table.
No room for flowers with all the food you have planned? Scatter pinecones along the table for a simple, rustic touch.
5. Add a bespoke flourish
Placecards elevate and personalise a table setting. For a truly special touch, consider enlisting the services of a calligrapher to handwrite each name on thick white card – even better if each one is secured to a beautiful bauble for guests to take home.
Steer clear of gaudy Christmas crackers in favour of something a little more chic: we can’t go past Jo Malone London luxe crackers, filled with tiny versions of the brand’s bestselling goodies.