How glad we are to live in a world where there are Octobers, as Anne of Green Gables said, with its flaming trees, misted air and chill breeze. It marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn – not to mention, the most enjoyably spooky month of the year… Whether you consider yourself a big Halloween buff, or indifferent to the occasion, it can certainly be said that in the modern day, this ethereal event is one of the more light-hearted of the holidays, and therefore all the more fun for it. We may not be warding off spirits or dressing up as witches (though why the devil not?) but we do strongly advocate any opportunity for decorating, feasting and entertaining. Why ignore such a prospect? And though we highly approve of dusting the table with miniature sparkly spider confetti and draping bannisters with cotton wool in the guise of cobwebs, we have some alternative ideas for an elegant Halloween tablescape that may appeal to a broader audience – even those less enthusiastic about the occasion or with an aversion to anything too scary. Read on for ideas on how to tastefully decorate your table for Halloween.

Table layout with lots of pumpkins anf autumnal foliage

Consider Your Setup

What event will you be hosting? Who will be coming? And where in your home will you set up? If you’re hosting in the dining room, the bigger the table, the better, so if you have an extendable version, open out its leaves and give yourself room to have some fun. If your table is more compact you can still get creative, just on a smaller scale. You may want to consider building upwards – rather than outwards – with floral arrangements, for example. Then, think about your crockery and cutlery. You needn’t buy whole new sets (unless, of course, you would like the excuse), as these will simply be the basis for your dining set-up – the decorations will add the drama. To encourage people to get into the spirit of things, we would suggest taking the approach of sharing dishes, so that everyone can socialise and help themselves rather than focusing on their own plates.

Layer Layer...

Once you have laid the plates, placed the glasses and set the cutlery, you can start assembling the fun elements of your tablescape. A Halloween feast is the perfect opportunity to get creative, and whether you are a small party or large, we encourage a more is more attitude. However, start with less, and start low; begin in the centre, then build it up and out. Remember that you can always add more, and if you feel you’ve gone too far, you can also take away. Trust your design instincts.

Pumpkin decorations on a dining table
Autumnal table setup

Create Your Centrepiece

To steer clear of anything too ghostly, but still encapsulate the feeling of autumn, look to what’s growing at this time of year in the natural world. It might be the only month of the year where you can indulge in pumpkins galore. If you struggle to get your hands on the real ones, or want a little more variation than the classic orange pumpkin found in supermarkets, go for squash-shaped ornaments: the gnarled and curvaceous gourds make for a wonderful centrepiece that is both beautiful and magical in its connotations. Of course, opting for faux pumpkins has the added benefit that they will be reusable the following year. Berries, conkers, pine cones, dried leaves and flowers are other brilliant additions for a tasteful table.

Bring the Drama

To infuse some mystery and drama into your decorations, don’t forget twinkling candlelight, especially in the form of tapered candles. They will bring some height to your table while the dripping wax will add to the spooky spectacle. There are many options out there for coloured candles which will yield an even more bewitching atmosphere.

Colourful autumnal dining table with pumpkins and berries

Botanical Colouring

Black may be your first thought when it comes to All Hallow’s Eve, and touches of the shade can add a wonderful theatrical effect, but too much may overwhelm your table and dampen your opportunity to play creatively with colour. We recommend looking to October’s natural tones to influence your colour palette – evergreen hues, the burnt oranges of pumpkins, and the deep purples of artichokes. Dark tones will add a sense of moody luxury to your creation. Above all, make sure you have fun and embrace the spooky season in all its ghoulish glory.