Joyeux Noël !
In many francophone countries, families start planning their Christmas Eve dinner, or le réveillon de Noël, weeks, if not months, in advance. The dinner is one of the most important parts of Christmas and French holiday tradition. Before the 18th century, le réveillon de Noël – the traditional Christmas meal in France-- used to be divided into two meals: people ate a light supper before midnight Christmas Mass, and then indulged in a “fat” supper at 3am that would last for hours. This is no longer the case in France, but Christmas Eve dinner does still last for hours–sometimes as many as six!
If planning your own French réveillon de Noël or Christmas dinner, aside from finalizing your menu, one place to start is with selection of a quality, authentic French Christmas tablecloth, une nappe such as one those made by Beauvillé or Garnier-Thiebaut. Don’t necessarily limit yourself to a tablecloth, and if your table seating works, equally consider a French table runner (le chemin de table) with placements (le set) around it, but always include cloth napkins (les serviettes). Any one of the tablecloths or table linens made by either Beauvillé or Garnier-Thiebaut will last for years and years—so no need to buy several —start with one very good cloth or linen and you’re “good for go”.
Most designers recommend you not exceed 2 or 3 colors on your table (without counting placement of “natural” items such as pine cones, or greens), and if looking to create a truly French table, avoid colors that are too flashy. French tables are generally more understated and elegant than American tables, and if you look at the top-quality French Christmas tablecloths offered each season, you will be amazed at both their elegance, feel, and subdued colors they employ.Holiday Theme or Seasonal Colors
Remember, when selecting your French holiday tablecloth, it doesn’t necessarily have to have a “Christmas” theme or motif, or even be in the traditional colors Americans have long associated with Christmas: cherry red and green. They can be subtle shades of ruby red, crimson, vermillion, or rich, dark colors like hunter green. In fact, the French often use totally different colorways like dark blue, black, silver, gold etc. –making their choice of tablecloth useful not only on Christmas, but through the entire winter and holiday season that starts, for us Americans at Thanksgiving, and extends into January.
Take for instance the French linen company, Beauvillé. One of our favorites due their consistent quality, Beauvillé has been creating Christmas tablecloths for more than two centuries, using and constantly refining their know-how to obtain prestigious table linens.
Each year, they offer a wide range of patterns and table linens from which to choose. Each article is 100% made in their facilities in Alsace, France. From their choice of the fabric to the shade of colors, nothing is left to chance: Beauvillé’s constant search for perfection contributes to the reputation of the tablecloths that beautify household tables around the world. And, their signature attention to detail, and the crispness of their designs, coupled with satin cottons or linen cotton blends is without equal.
Their Christmas tablecloth patterns range from traditional European holiday patterns, to rich, elegant patterns in silver and gold, black and gold, deep reds etc. Because they are located in Alsace France, many of their patterns bring a charming French / German look to your table and décor. Here are a few that we carry ranging from classic French traditional-themes tablecloth to more festive and elegant themes and colors.
Beauvillé, Winter Red - Emblematic of winter and the end of the year celebrations, the Winter pattern underlines with brightness the spirit of conviviality. The holly leaves and its duo of red and green perfectly symbolize the whole holiday tradition.
Beauvillé, La Nuit Étoilée (Starry Starry Night) - This pattern brings the charm we spoke about earlier, of a typical European town winter scene on a snowy night that brings a dreamy atmosphere to your table. An irresistible mix of precious shades and graphic patterns reinvent the typical winter motifs on this luxury Beauvillé tablecloth. This is available in 3 colorways, blue, anthracite, and red.
The elegant Beauvillé, Féerie Onyx Holiday pattern - This tablecloth is stunning on a table throughout the entire winter and holiday season. This is a modern design with shimmering colors to celebrate the end of the year. Available in two colorways, onyx black and red, many customers use this for both holiday parties and dinners, including New Year's Eve dinners and festivities.
And for those looking for a more contemporary, yet elegant white & gold, or silver & gold tablecloth that can be used through the year for any special occasion, including the holiday season, consider Beauvillé’s, Symphonie Silver. Available in two colorways, silver / white, and gold / white
this genuine jewel for the table, is designed with a myriad of light flashes to bring a timeless charm and instant elegance to your living space. Matching napkins available. Made from 100% cotton satin with an anti-stain finish for spill / stain resistance, this tablecloth is perfect not only for Christmas but throughout the holiday season.
Known more for their French Jacquard Tablecloths, Garnier-Thiebaut, consistently produces a full range of luxury table linens, including each year, several tablecloths and table linens that are ideal for use throughout the entire holiday season. Located in the Vosges region of France, they are the oldest and most prestigious producer of jacquards and table linen producing two new collections (spring/summer; fall / winter) each year. The popularity (due to quality, appearance, and versatility) of their coated cotton jacquards has also made their tablecloth sought after for holiday buffets and dinners.
As with Beauvillé, Garnier-Thiebaut offer a wide range of patterns and colors for use throughout the holiday and Christmas season. These range from jacquards, to coated jacquards, and more recently have included a lesser expensive printed tablecloth giving buyers more choices when preparing their parties and dinners.
Typical of Garnier-Thiebaut’s annual Christmas pattern are Noel Baroque and Noel Étoile. These beautiful French woven jacquard designs can be enjoyed year after year. Every item (except napkins) in these collections are made from 100% cotton with Green Sweet stain-resistant technology for easy care, so spilled liquids can easily be wiped off. Machine washable, full collections are available ranging from cloth napkins, to table runners, and matching aprons.
Equally popular are those colors and rich designs which are more winter / seasonal in nature, such as Garnier-Thiebaut’s Mille Isaphire Mini Grenat.
With its rich grenadine red color, and woven intricate design, this tablecloth is perfect for use throughout the entire season. This pattern is not only available in Grenat (grenadine red) but in several colorways including Beige, Bleu Nuit (Midnight Blue), and Parchemin (ivory). And, making it even more versatile, it is available in their acrylic-Coated Jacquard as well as custom lengths.
For an especially beautiful Christmas holiday tablecloth in an exquisite, non-traditional color, is Garnier-Thiebaut’s enormously popular, Isaphire Emeraude Jacquard Tablecloth.
The Isaphire design is enchanting and majestic with its elegant intertwining woven foliage. Suitable for special dinners and formal gatherings, the fineness of the pattern is achieved through it's high thread count which lends an extra special luxurious feel to the fabric and highlights the woven design. Every item (except napkins) in this collection is made from 100% cotton with Green Sweet stain-resistant technology for easy care, so spilled liquids can easily be wiped off.
Lastly, if looking for a less expensive French tablecloth, Garnier-Thiebaut has introduced a printed tablecloth, Poinsettias Vintage.
This festive tablecloth welcomes the winter and holiday season with poinsettias in full bloom. As with most of their other patterns, there is a full range of matching table linens available as well as a kitchen / tea towel and apron available.
A Few Last Words…
Having a quality French tablecloth made from cloth for your holiday gathering or Christmas dinner will add a touch of elegance and warmth that will make family and guests feel welcome, and special. We eat with our eyes first, and while your dinner will always be the main attraction, serving it on a tablecloth that’s aesthetically pleasing will make the occasion memorable for years to come.