Hurrah for Christmas! It’s one time of the year to really let rip in the dining room. It’s time to ferret in the loft, burrow in the drawers and pull out all those trinkets and baubles. Break all the rules, disregard the barriers between traditional and modern, dust off everything that sparkles and shines and rediscover all the rare and wonderful things kept for “best”. A Christmas table does not have to be a cliché, but it does have to be personal, and it should most definitely have a sense of humour.
“Full-on fantasy never disappoints. Be brave and never ask for others’ opinions. It’s all about you!”
Time for some magic. For a family gathering, I pulled out all the stops to present the full tinseltown crystal and candlelight experience.
I took inspiration from those rich, dark, Dutch Old Masters like Vermeer whose velvety layers of darkness are punctuated with slots of colour and shafts of light. I do try not to take my Christmas decorating too seriously. I’m not one for the designer tree with themed baubles. If Christmas is a family tradition, then it should reflect past history. We do buy a little bit of something new every year, but old favourites never lose their status, and that includes the slightly tatty fairy with just the one wing. Her place at the top of our tree is sacrosanct.
A complete change of scene here, far away from family traditions of tinsel and crackers and dusty heirloom decorations. The setting for this youthful Christmas is an apartment in the Alps. Far from the wintering gloom, crackling fires, Christmas Specials on the television and the glow of candlelight, this setting makes the most of the sunlight that comes bouncing off the snow and streaming though the windows.
A TOAST TO TRADITION
“Sometimes it is right to relax into the embrace of Christmas past and go with the flow of tradition. A white tablecloth, cut glass and red flowers will never hit the wrong note, and it just takes a little twist to bring the party right up to date.”
Christmas is, of course, the one time of year when the decoration of the room does not have to speak in any way to the decoration of the table. The table is the star performer, and everything else justfalls away. I’ve chosen red raffia placemats, just the right size to peek out from under the bone china plates with their thick gold trim – definitely a touch of the luxurious. The informality of the placemats is picked up with the raffia napkin rings – too much luxe can be counterproductive. The crystal is clear, and the tall red coupe cocktail glasses add their zing of colour and are perfect for all the toasting that will no doubt take place as the meal progresses. As this is likely to be a long and leisurely evening, I’ve used shaded candle holders that take tea lights, so there’s no danger of the candles burning down to the wick before the Christmas pudding appears.
This blog has been extracted from William Yeoward Blue & White and other stories with photography by Gavin Kingcome © CICO Books