Style Stories: Maria Reidy, Event Planner

The events planner and designer shares her tips on creating a festive table that will wow guests, the key to a smooth running party, plus how to make all winter meals (even the non-fancy ones) feel extra special.


On creating a wow winter tablescape: My top tip is to use plenty of candles at different heights, high and low. The beautiful tables that flood your Instagram feed are all about detail – and uniformity. The rule of thumb for floristry is threes and fives, and I follow the same with candles: odd numbers always look better. Guests really enjoy a surprise on the table, if you have a little gift at each place setting that’s always nice, or something like a place card, or a decoration that guests can take home, can be lovely. Lastly, beware of overloading. You don’t want the table laden with too much, whether its flowers or candles or crockery, so that it's blocking the view of the guest across the way.

Mid-week meals? They can be magic, too: Eschew tablecloths (too much hassle mid-week) for interesting sharing bowls and platters, and plenty of candlelight. I use linen napkins each night. They needn’t be a precious thing: I don’t iron them and I use quality Irish linen napkins that machine wash perfectly.



Hygge hacks: You don’t have to spend a fortune on a beautiful winter table. A nice linen sheet from a budget-friendly home store can double as a tablecloth. Good with a sewing machine? Divide it up and make it into napkins. Get crafty and creative.

Life is about everyday luxuries: I don't leave the house without my wedding ring, an antique solitaire, and my platinum wedding band: I wear both every day alongside a pair of pearl or diamond studs. My Garmin watch is always on my wrist when I work at events – I might rack up 20,000 steps in one day. I’m currently coveting a fine bangle. I’d wear a few, stacked in gold and silver, there is something so elegant but understated about that look.



Laid-back weddings: myth or reality? To have a laid-back wedding day you need to be super-organised. Any day that looks really chilled has a lot of planning behind it. The worst mistake a couple can make is taking on too much of their own wedding day. There’s never enough time to do things like arrange flowers, or dress a room for 150 people, on the big day. Very often, you will save money by having a professional onboard to execute those things for you.

My Christmas table will be: ... Nordic inspired. That means lots of lush greenery, foliage and candles. This time of year, you bring fresh flowers into the house and they die quite quickly. Instead, I'll plant amaryllis in pots; you keep them indoors and they bloom with a gorgeous scent just in time for Christmas.

See more from Maria’s chic events at and shop her homewares collection at