Christmas Table Setting with Sarah Tomczak, Editor of Red Magazine

Sarah Tomczak is the editor of Red magazine. We spoke to Sarah about her Christmas tablescape this year.
How do you approach your Christmas table?
I'm not a believer in saving things for best, but at the same time I do love the ritual of having certain pieces that only come out as special times of the year. I used to think buying 'festive' things was a bit naff, but every year I'm happy to pull out my pine tablecloth, purchased at H&M Home a few years ago. It's definitely wintery but not too twee. Because the green and white feel neutral, I can layer it with other colours. One year it could be red, the next navy and this year brown.

What decorative elements do you add to your table?
I always accent with gold - like these vintage candle sticks - I have some simple gold napkin rings I often use too. I prefer rambling foliage (nothing too formal, often cut from the garden that morning), and I keep it low in a few smaller bud vases, so people can see each other over it and I can move it about the table to accommodate serving dishes.
Candles, of course, and I usually opt for extra-long ones, which look much grander but don't take up much more room. I'll often add bowls of pomegranates or figs, or deep red grapes for colour too. Last year, I made a huge hanging centrepiece, using ivy and berries, which I suspended above the table. I always try to interpret the amazing tablescapes I see at press dinners and product launches for my own home.

What is your Christmas colour palette this year?
This year I'm really into the idea of layering print and texture, so the palette has to be a bit more neutral. My trusty green pine print tablecloth is back, but I'm pairing it with deep brown rattan chargers, and brown gingham linen napkins. I have brown and green candles, little bud vases filled with dark berries and leaves. I might scatter some pinecones between the vases too.
What are your tabletop must haves?
I'm obsessed with napkins - much to my husband's eyerolling. We go to France every summer and I scour broccantes for vintage table linen, but I'm equally likely to sneakily order a set of napkins in the UK. We use them every day, so cost per use - and for the daily joy they bring - they're worth it. Chargers are great too because they subtly but instantly change the mood of a table, whether they're ornate or simple and chic.

Do you have any tips for adding personalised touches?
I fight between my urge to be a bit bohemian and eclectic and my natural sense of order. I really like the idea of mixing and matching, but can't bring myself to combine too many random elements. As I've mentioned, I love old French linen napkins, which are often embroidered with a monogram - I like the idea of having a big basket of different white napkins at a party so people can rifle through to find their own initial.
A couple of years ago, my mum gave me some little French scallop shell bowls, which I like to layer on top of side plates. I have an assortment of wicker napkin rings, which I use together. Most of our glasses are old - some of my favourite are these smoked wine glasses on my festive table, passed down from my grandmother. For me, the unique touches are the bits that have more history - an inherited salt and pepper pot, an old striped linen bedsheet-turned tablecloth, a box of bone-handled cutlery (these are on my wishlist this Christmas). They don't have to be expensive, in fact, the opposite. One of my most stylish friends finds the best bits at the local charity shops.

Who and what inspires your tables?
I adore the way Skye McAlpine creates a table that looks so abundant and elegant, but manages to feel convivial and 'thrown together' too - I wish I could appear as effortless! Saying that, I also lovely Fiona Leahy's tables, for their creativity and attention to detail - she has a 'more is more' attitude that is equally as fabulous, but just in a different way. And my good friend Laura Fantacci inspired me once, when she told me she likes to create a beautiful table for Sunday lunch, even when she's just eating with her kids, because she wants them to have memories of special family meals. Just like her, I get great pleasure from making a table look lovely, so why not do it more often?
Table & photo by Skye McAlpine @skyemcalpine 
Shop Sarah's Christmas Table

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