Making Merry – The Festive Table Inspiration Guide

A Southern Hemisphere Christmas offers a bounty of fresh produce, endless golden days and the cicada’s familiar thrum. There’s plenty to enjoy about our summertime yuletide.

Making merry around a table is essential to the Australian festive season, where stuffy formality is pushed aside and comfort is favoured. This easy-going approach calls for Christmas table styling ideas that are equal parts loose and considered.

At Southern Wild Co, we are drawn to elegantly relaxed table schemes inspired by the beguiling beauty of the Australian bush, the scent imprints of the season, and the charm of handmade and pre-loved embellishments.

Today on the Journal, we share simple, thoughtful ideas on creating a magical tablescape that shimmers with Aussie holiday spirit and leaves each guest feeling loved and relaxed.

An outdoor festive tablesetting by Southern Wild Co

Set the scene

A tablecloth can direct the overall look of a table setting and there are myriad ways to lay a foundation that you love.

Source patterned cotton or unbleached calico from your local fabric store, or go with hessian or brown craft paper for a rustic look. Perhaps you could bring out the keepsake linen or rescue vintage napery or global textiles from an op shop.

Aim for an overhang of at least twenty centimetres and freshen any fabric with a gentle wash and a dry in the sun prior to use. 

Festive table inspiration guide – Southern Wild Co

Embrace the mismatched

A precisely set formal table can lend a wow factor, but a looser approach will create a comfortable mood. We love the look of mismatched timber dining chairs and often add bench seats for a communal and convivial atmosphere.

The same applies to your dinnerware and drinking vessels. Mixing up the patterns and styles will create welcoming intrigue. Stick to three or four accent colours to keep the tablescape cohesive and easy on the eye. We use pretty plates sourced from Vinnies and Salvo’s, teamed with locally made pottery in natural tones and textures.

Festive table inspiration guide with mangoes and beeswax candles – Southern Wild Co

Layer scent

Memories are made at a Christmas table, and scent stories are inextricably linked to these recollections. The idea is to layer subtle fragrances that don’t overwhelm your guests. 

Southern Wild Co Beeswax Candles are softly honey-scented and sit pretty in patinaed brass candlestick holders and amber glass bottles. Dotting Southern Wild Co Mini Candles across the table enhances the festive ambience.

The smell of ripe mangoes encapsulates Aussie summertime, and they look incredible piled on a timber cakestand (we love the ones by Turn Turn Turn) along with peaches and passionfruit in a sumptuous seasonal display. Add bundles of cinnamon sticks or scatter star anise to touch on the traditional spices of the season.

Roses in a vintage vase with australian made scented candles by southern wild co
vases of flowers on an outdoor table - southern wild co

Add blooms and foliage

Gather your favourite flowers and armfuls of foliage from the garden or your local florist and display them in a row of glass vases. If you are short on vases, use repurposed enamel jugs, earthenware pots or even vintage trophies.

For a leafy look that sits low, arrange a garland of freshly cut eucalyptus greens down the centre of the table. Nestle mercury glass baubles amongst the leaves for extra sparkle.

Keep enough table space free to accommodate your share platters and dishes.  Presenting the meal this way speaks of generosity, and the ‘help yourself’ approach is welcoming and friendly.

a vintage table setting with personalised gifts by southern wild co
Festive table inspiration by southern wild co

Make it personal

A personalised place setting harnesses warm feelings of connection. Create a place card inspired by your natural surroundings and write each guest's name on a large gum leaf or a smooth shell.

This year, we are making Christmas bon bons using the new SWC Art Boxes, wrapped in twine and finished with a dried orange slice, a cinnamon stick or a rosemary sprig. Presented as a gift on the plate, it’s sure to get your loved ones smiling.

Christmas wreath with eucalyptus and paper daisies - southern wild co

Deck the halls

Spread some of the styling love to the area around your table to amplify the celebratory feeling. Hang a wreath made of native foliage loosely weaved with a mix of blooms, like paper daisies, waratahs and masses of gum and Christmas Bush.

Anchor a generous tree branch – leafy or bare and sculptural – in an oversize glass demijohn or vintage tin bucket and dress it with a delicate paper chain, a garland of dried citrus slices or twinkling fairy lights.

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