Creating a truly gorgeous table for a festive feast is so rewarding, particularly if you encourage your little ones to help plan and make the decorations during the build-up to the big day.

Whether you’re decorating a cosy table in the kitchen for a few loved ones, or relaxing outdoors while you braai with friends, or planning a splendid occasion for the whole extended family, you’ll find a number of simple, inspiring ideas in this article.

You needn’t spend a fortune on a lovely ‘tablescape’ – it’s surprisingly easy to put together a fabulous, fun, festive look using materials you already have in the house and garden, plus inexpensive decorations and home-made crafts.

If you’d like to see visual examples of some of these ideas (or how-to articles), click on any of the links below.

Two tips before you read on:

  • It’s a good idea to plan your festive table well in advance, so you can start collecting items and making crafts with the kids. Then lay and decorate the table a day or two before the big meal. This will help build the kids’ anticipation and excitement, keep them out of your hair, and allow you tick off one big item on your planning list before the festivities begin.
  • For next year, start planning in January! This may seem like a strange suggestion, but it’s a smart strategy to keep your eye on sales throughout the year, and to snap up decorations and accessories that have been marked down to nothing. Hide them in the top of your wardrobe, then bring them out with a smile next December!

1. First pick a colour scheme

A well-thought-out colour scheme pulls everything together and creates a cohesive Christmas ‘look’ for the table. Here are some ideas:

  • Multi-coloured marvel: Create a table like a rainbow using a host of jazzy colours. Choose a patterned cloth, or lay sheets of bright wrapping paper across the table. Then add vivid fresh flowers, Christmas baubles, paper streamers, balloons and bowls of colourful sweets.
  • Two will do: Choose just two favourite colours for your table, such as red and green, or blue and cream, or black and white. Then add shiny elements in the form of gold and silver accents or gentle twinkling lights (see below).
  • One-colour Christmas:an all-white, all-silver or all-golden festive table can look stunning, but you may need to introduce visual excitement in the form of one or two small ‘pops’ of a contrasting colour. How about mini-wreaths of fresh green herbs, or sprays of red berries, or succulent plants in soft greens and purples?

2. Add sparkle and shine!

Every festive table deserves soft twinkling light to enchant the kids and create a magical atmosphere. Here are some ideas:

  • Place candles in recycled wine bottles (see picture at the top of this page), or in large glass jars to which you’ve added a few centimetres of sand.
  • Use a dozen or more low-cost tea lights to add a flickering glow to the table – do you know that you can use apples, oranges and recycled tin cans to make tea-light holders with a wow factor?
  • Buy a few strings of inexpensive, battery operated fairy lights, and lay them along the length of the table – or pile them into large glass jars.

3. Fruitful and festive:

Fresh fruits and nuts in their shells add such a generous look to a Christmas table – and your guests can help themselves! Pile jcolourful fruit along the length of the table, then tuck in sprigs of fresh greenery such as bay leaves or rosemary sprigs. How about making old-fashioned scented jpomanders using ripe citrus fruit and whole cloves?

4. Go natural!

Create a simple, fresh look for your table by using the soft browns and greens of nature. Choose natural textures, such as hessian, wood, raffia and brown paper, and use herbs and flowers to decorate your candles and napkins.

Other beautiful decorations you can use include pine cones seashells, dried grasses, thorns, gourds, seed pods and leaves. You can add extra shine by lightly coating these collected items with either gold or silver spray paint.

5. Recycle and repurpose:

We at NutriDay care about the environment, so we encourage you to give items around your house a second life by transforming them into festive table accessories! Ideas:

  • Create easy, adorable table ornaments using our NutriDay tubs: click here to get easy instructions for making a pine-cone Christmas tree, a golden bell and a super-cute red-nosed reindeer.
  • Save money on Christmas crackers by making your own using wrapping paper and the inner tubes from toilet rolls. ‘Bangs’ for putting inside your crackers can be ordered online, and you can fill them with sweets, small novelties or hand-written festive greetings.
  • For table confetti, use bright paper and an office punch to create a shower of colourful dots.
  • Show the kids how to make easy paper chains using old comics or magazines.

Leave a comment below telling us how you will be decorating your festive table this year, or post a pic of your beautiful tablescape on our NutriDay Facebook page!