Frank Newbold’s guide to styling Christmas feasts
Celebrating with bellinis over brunch, showstopping charcuterie boards or turkey with a twist?! Whatever you’re hosting over the holidays, pull out all the stops and create a tablescape that captures the spirit of the season during every meal. This week we paid another visit to interior designer Frank Newbold’s cottage, where he talked us through how to be the host with the most for a very special Christmas breakfast. Ready to go all-out with your presentation? Read on for top tips from the founder of Hestia & Hearth and you too shall be inspired to create a festive dining look that’s perfect for first thing in the morning. Fluffy eggs and smoked salmon have never looked (or tasted) so good…
1. Layer up
It all begins with a tablecloth and runner. I always go with contrasting textures and colours – this year it’s all about a crisp white base that sits beautifully underneath a tumbled natural linen runner. Layering extends to glassware – I always think about height on my table designs; for the festive breakfast I’ve got champagne flutes for Bucks Fizz sat next to coffee mugs and water glasses. Creating visual interest with their differing heights, this trio creates a pyramid that sits easily at each place setting and helps to create a look that’s welcoming rather than formal, which you can slot serveware, cutlery and napkins around. It’s all about creating a laid-back organic look for breakfast, so again I’ve utilised what’s in the garden; foraged moss makes an appearance under my breakfast serving boards – it creates a layer for them to sit on that adds to the backdrop, which is distinctly woodland in theme. In terms of plates and bowls, I’m very fluid and like to provide stacks of everything so that guests feel at home and can select something to serve themselves. I might select contrasting textures when it comes to serveware, but every piece will adhere to the same general colour palette, ensuring that they blend well when positioned together and create a look that’s happily muted and relaxed.
2. Offer a warm welcome
I think food is for sharing, particularly first thing at breakfast time, during which guests should feel at ease and able to enjoy helping themselves to whatever they’d like. Rather than contriving any fiddly designs, I just pull napkins through a ring enhanced with a sprig of rosemary, so everyone feels comfortable about using them, without worrying about disrupting the way in which they’ve been folded. I also love to throw in a tabletop keepsake to add character; this year’s memorable talking point is my cow milk jug which I picked up at a boot fair; I knew instantly this this piece needed to have its starring moment! Despite building lots of layers, everything remains at a low height on my breakfast dining table – the champagne flute is my limit(!), so that we’re all able to look across easily and talk to each other. It’s the one time of year that we all really get to sit back and relax, so it’s good to be able to savour it undisturbed without obstacles or distractions.
3. Create a sensory experience
Of course, tasting food is a sensory experience in itself. I’m talking about setting the scene before anyone’s even had a bite to eat. It’s nothing fancy - just tapping into those natural little touches that add a freshness and flavour to festive proceedings. I love aromas; you can’t go wrong with a sprinkling of cloves in amongst centrepieces, or you can stab them into an orange that you’re using within a more prominent arrangement. Curls of cucumber and lime slices pair with my favourite, rosemary - in a water jug, to give staples a delicious twist.