SOMETHING that has become a time-honoured tradition in my house is that the iron is only pressed into action once a year: to smooth creases from the tablecloth used for Christmas dinner.

Such is my intense dislike of ironing that, when clothes shopping, I have become adept at spotting wrinkle-resistant garments from a great distance away. I can do it from the tiniest thumbnail picture on a website. It is my most prized superpower.

However, it occurred to me the other day that the iron's annual outing – when the ageing appliance is dragged from the back of the cupboard to splutter and hiss like a cantankerous, elderly cat disturbed from its slumber – may not happen at all. Not the way things are going.

This epiphany, of course, has made me hanker for a big table all laid out with fresh, crisp linens – as opposed to the usual tray balanced precariously on my knees in front of the telly. What? I'm nothing if not consistent in my contrarian nature.

It seems I'm not alone. In fact, people are taking it to a whole new level (I almost said tier, but that's a thorny word these days). There's even a name for it: tablescaping.

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The idea first gained traction during the early days of lockdown. As everyone retreated indoors – working from home with shrinking social lives and physical estrangement from loved ones – finding comfort and joy within our surroundings became a common goal.

Some baked banana bread and nurtured sourdough starters, others embarked upon DIY projects or lounged in baggy clothes watching Netflix. Then there were those who sought to make mealtimes a pleasurable experience, something that went beyond simply what we put in our stomachs.

Tablescaping does exactly what it says on the tin: a decorative arrangement of objects on a tabletop or tea tray. Think tasteful crockery and seasonal themes, it can be rustic or highly formal.

According to Vogue Australia, "tablescaping is the new getting dressed". By which, I presume, they mean getting dressed up. Not that we're all strutting about in the nude. Certainly not with this spare tyre currently testing my elasticated waistband.

The triumph of tablescaping is that you don't have to get dressed up because the table does the dressing up for you.

No matter that you're wearing seen-better-days Matalan jogging bottoms and a George at Asda hooded top, sit down to eat at a table with a swanky cloth, the good china, sparkling glassware, nice napkins and flickering candles, it is amazing how your mood lifts.

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My own kitchen table has become a dumping ground for everything from laundry to the dog's half-chewed tennis balls. As a pandemic pick-me-up, I decided to use it for a beautiful autumnal display.

The only issue was a tablecloth. When I went looking for the iron, I couldn't find it. Perhaps I packed it away with the Christmas decorations? We'll find out in a couple of months, I guess.

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