London’s stores are groaning with fully laid-up festive tables, so dip in and get a different take on Christmas.

At Habitat designer/influencer Sophie Robinson is doing three on-trend confections tagged Colour pop, Scandi and Modern-luxe. She likes to mix the opulent – gold cutlery, say –  with the homely: “Like my Mum, I go foraging at Christmas for branches and berries,” (Tottenham Court Road, W1, Finchley Road, NW3 and Westfield at White City; habitat.com).

Christmas is booming at John Lewis in Oxford Street, with seven “looks” to choose from. “Maximalism is going nowhere,” says stylist Bethan Harwood.  Just turn up for “table talks” on Mondays at 3pm in the residence space on the third floor, with “dressing your home” at the same time on Wednesdays, and “treetorials” on Fridays.

Or go to nvite.com/community/jloxfordstreet to reserve a place. Have a free walk-in 15-minute consultation with a Peter Jones stylist in SW3 – just go to the experience desk (johnlewis.com; 020 7629 7711). 

  • A cloth should overhang a table by 10-15 inches 
  • Stagger the height of candles
  • Avoid anything tall that blocks cross-table chat
  • Let creases hang out of tablecloths overnight
  • Weave ribbon through sprigs of greenery
  • Add baubles to chair backs
  • Fir cones can hold place tags – luggage labels are handy
  • Use a simple wreath as a centrepiece 
  • Mix sprigs of greenery with fresh red flowers – carnations are cheap and last well
  • Leave room for serving dishes

“Think outside that Christmas box of red and green,” suggests Gail Taylor, creative director of interiors studio th2designs in Design Centre Chelsea Harbour. This year she’s doing rich royal blue with gold – “and trendy soft and minty green is good with white and silver” (th2designs.co.uk). 

Dunelm, reliably low-priced, has an online booklet oozing with inspiration, including pearly pinks and marbled plates. Or get a set of tartan china for £30; four plates with stags or robins for £10; or a gold-coloured 16-piece cutlery set for £25 (stores in Staples Corner, Beckton, Friern Barnet, Colliers Wood and Catford; dunelm.com). Also thrifty are white baubles that you can personalise yourself, plus lots of other neat ideas, at Hobbycraft (hobbycraft.co.uk).

For exclusive linens, glass and china move upmarket to Summerill & Bishop, trading over 25 years in Clarendon Cross. Hand-painted “personalised” cloths, napkins, glasses and china are their forte (100 Portland Road, W11; summerillandbishop.com; also at 58 Elizabeth St, London, SW1).

Liberty’s signature Tana lawn is in exclusive Christmas patterns inspired by their archive; use as a table runner at £29.50 a metre (libertylondon.com). An elegant holder for three white LED candles on a timer is £12 at Ikea.

Feast: 12-piece Palatial dinner set, £38; 16-piece Bistro cutlery set, £20; runner, £12; stag, £14, all Argos Home Berry Christmas range

Or just scoop up your decs at the supermarket. Get classy plain cotton tablecloths, red or white, at Waitrose for £20, with a pair of napkins for £5, and red runners at £15. An oval platter with handsome stag is £10 at Tesco, with a gold-spattered dinner set for four at £40. Sainsbury’s has good-quality china and glass basics (sainsburys.co.uk).

Around the web, Amara (amara.com) has all your favourite brands. Arty cardboard crowns by painter Raphael Balme cost £28 for a set of four different designs at The Shop Floor Project (theshopflloorproject.com). Smart oval metal candle trays at British Colour Standard will hold eight candles, with room for Christmas greenery, £37 (britishcolourstandard.com). And old-fashioned pleated paper balls and streamers are at RE (re-foundobjects.com/).

 For a cool yule, Skandium is back in town with a pop-up until December 23 at 11 Dray Walk, E1; they will open a permanent store after Christmas (skandium.com).

Shelter pop-up at 72 Neal Street, WC2, until December 21, has vintage glass, china etc. Handsome chocolate coins cost £2, with “emergency chocolate bars” at £5 and £10 (cardshop.shelter.org.uk).

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Festive elegance: serve up affordable festive elegance for four people with the 12-piece Seren gold-and-white dinner set, £40, from the Fox & Ivy homeware range at Tesco

What’s cooking?

Convivial and fun, a cooking class can hone your skills. Book asap as they fill up quickly. Waitrose does classes in King’s Cross, N1C, and Finchley Road, NW3.

Jamie Oliver has a new venue in Islington (jamiescookeryschool.com; 020 8103 1970). L’Atelier des Chefs has packed programmes in Wigmore Street, W1 (020 7499 6580) and in Foster Lane, EC2 (020 7796 0110).

The Avenue Cookery School is in Wandsworth, SW18 (theavenuecookeryschool.com), with some classes in EC1. Also try Divertimenti (divertimenti.co.uk) with classes in SW3, or Cookery School at Little Portland Street in W1 (cookeryschool.co.uk; 020 7631 4590).

Borough Kitchen (boroughkitchen.com) does classes in W4 and NW3. And class vouchers make good gifts.

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