We asked Ben Palmer, of Palmer & Penn to offer some Christmas do’s and don’ts.

December 14, 2021

FOR design-lovers of décor, half the fun of hosting a holiday or Christmas soiree is decorating the house. They happily shop for plates and brainstorm tabletop themes all year round. For other people, the mere idea of a theme is overwhelming. We hope you will use this collection of timeless pieces to inspire a simple upgrade, refresh to your annual tradition, or to inspire a whole new one this year.

We asked one of Sydney’s top lifetstyle retailer’s and tastemakers, Ben Palmer, of Palmer & Penn to offer some Christmas do’s and don’ts and inspire us with chic Christmas party ideas and must-haves for all types of get-togethers and decorating.

“It’s a mistake to get fixated on the theme,” advises Palmer, who recommends timelessness this holiday season. He’s seen people get overzealous when it comes to Christmas motifs, for example—incorporating them on everything from plates to napkins.

It can quickly get out of hand. Below, are ideas to bring some merry but elevated design to your feast and summer parties without going over the top. Read more, ‘A Shop That Does Everything Well.’

1. Polite Vegetation Mixed with Candles

Don’t build a centrepiece so tall your guests have to part the greenery like a spy in the hedges just to talk across the table. Palmer recommends a low decoration that runs down the length of an extended table with beautiful candles.  Read more, ‘How To Avoid The 7 Worst Holiday Table Decor Mistakes.’

A shallow garland of foliage and candles should keep the conversation sparkling. 

2. Flexible Details

Even everyday white plates look great with a seasonal napkin or tablecloth. Frette’s Convivium’s classic napkin sets don’t scream holiday, so they work all year round and still bring on some beautiful colour. Frette Convivium Napkin Set in Dusty Blue, $360,

3. Ethan Cake Stand

The vintage-inspired handmade design with fire-polished edges that achieve the smoothest finish and highest shine, is an elegant addition to casual gatherings and formal events. Ralph Lauren Home Ethan Cake Stand $269,

4. A Great Drip-Free Pitcher that Looks Elegant

The Ethan Pitcher handmade by Ralph Lauren can do double duty as a water jug for year-round lunches and dinners or a vase. It’s a classic and a steal at $200. Ralph Lauren Home Ethan Pitcher, $200,

5. A Great Red Wine Glass

Baccarat’s Vega, three stacked diamond-shaped contrasts with the bevel-cut zigzag of the stem is designed by Savinel & Rozé, $530. Baccarat Vega Glass Red Wine, $530,

6. Natural Motifs 

“Incorporate unexpected patterns and pieces to create a layered, thoughtful table that feels festive but not forced,” says Palmer,  who recommends Ralph Lauren’s renowned Garden Vine and Midnight Sky collection of tableware in green and navy on white. Ralph Lauren Home Garden Vine Tableware Indigo Range starting at $66, 

Invest in quality dinner plates with looks that will last.

7. Fresh and Floral

Fill your home with the flowery scent of the Trudon Josephine Room spray which packs a fragrant punch. It is a favourite among the style set, $299, or try Trudon’s new diffuser which is we hear is a favourite among shoppers this season. Trudon Room Spray ‘Josephine’ 375ml, $299.00,

8. Colours That Branch Out

A Christmas table doesn’t need to be exclusively red and gold,  says Palmer. Ralph Lauren Home partnered with English heritage potter Burleigh for a line of dishware in nature-inspired patterns. The Garden Vine Dinner Plate in green will deftly complement more traditional seasonal colours. Ralph Lauren Home, Garden Vine Tableware, Green, pieces starting from $60,

9. Well-Placed Flames

To set the mood, Palmer urges hosts to dim overhead lights and fire up lots of candles. Go for Trudon candles and space them out around the room, so they won’t overpower a table setting. Trudon Gloria Christmas Candle 2021, $248,

Your guests want to inhale the aromas of gravy and sweet potatoes, not patchouli.

10. Whimsical Pour

Guaranteed to delight friends, the Remy decanter by Ralph Lauren with precise etchings in classic herringbone pattern reminiscent of the enduring menswear motif is an eye-catching collectible to treasure, $485. Ralph Lauren Home Remy Decanter, $485,

11.  Scattered Petals 

An alternative to imposing bouquets: Pepper the table with small Aerin bud vases of single stems with a personal flower arrangement at each setting. Aerin, Eloise Tall Bud Vase Cream, $399,

12. Elegant Ice Bucket 

The vintage-style Ethan Ice Bucket handmade glass design with fire-polished edges is a perfect for those who want to serve drinks in style this season, Ralph Lauren Home, $269. Ralph Lauren Home Ethan Ice Bucket $269,

13. A Classic Cotton Blanket

Snuggle up with drapey, weighty new Aerin throws, available in 10 colours. We’re told even after years of use, its tight weave will still look practically new. Aerin Noe Cashmere Throw $990,

14. Fluted Hurricane Holders

This Aerin fluted glass Hurricane Shade is a timeless piece to love forever. Adorn your entrance or use them for your tablescape. Aerin Milla Hurricane, Small, $545,

15. Quality Linen

Quality Bold European Pillowcases that remind you some standards are worth upholding. Frette Doppio Ajour European Beige Pillowcase $360,

16. Fresh and Floral

Update your bathroom with the beautiful Empressa Body and Hand Lotion. Penhaligons Empressa Body and Hand Lotion, $85,

17. Multitasking Stemware

To avoid overcrowding, “invest in a universal wine glass that can accommodate white, red or rosé,” says Palmer.  These goblets from Ralph Lauren don’t signal a grape preference with their shape and can double as water glasses. Etched patterns—crosshatch and stripe—add seasonality but not monotony. Baccarat Chateau Wine Glass Set of 2, $635.00,

18. Ralph Never disappoints

Garden Vine Bowl by Ralph Lauren to treasure forever. $300. Ralph Lauren Home Garden Vine Tableware Black, $300,

19. The Best Way to Travel Without Actually Travelling

Anyone who loves travel will appreciate Assouline’s lastest book releases, which will help you live well at home while also elevating any interior. Try the Paris Chic book, $195, or the Impossible Collection of Whisky Book, $1950.

20. Conversation Starter

The Lido Beach cushion made from terrycloth, providing both softness and absorbency, is the perfect companion for relaxing at the beach or poolside. Frette Lido Beach Cushion, $55,

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