Once autumn arrives, my thoughts naturally go to the approaching holiday season. It is my favorite time of the year. Interior design is about the elements of color, balance, scale, silhouette and other factors which are carefully considered when creating beautiful interior spaces. Holiday design and décor is approached in the very same manner. Of course, the elements of design for a holiday table are on a smaller scale. The goal is to achieve a cohesive grouping of items which relate in the same way as the larger pieces of a family room, dining room, or any other interior space. Read on to learn 6 tips on how to set the perfect holiday table.
The first holiday table setting tip is to look at what you have and build from there. I typically start with the dinnerware, flatware, and glassware as the foundation for the whole tablescape. Since you most likely have the dinnerware you plan to use, it makes sense to let that determine the direction of the table setting. This will help you decide which other elements you want to add. If you have more than one dinnerware set, try mixing pieces such as white dinner plates with gold salad plates, and use gold flatware to elevate or add a little drama to the design. Fairly inexpensive gold flatware can be purchased from your local home goods shop, such as World Market, and it can be used repeatedly for your holiday dining throughout the year.
The second holiday table setting tip is to decide the color scheme with your chosen tablecloth or runner, napkins, and decorative centerpieces. You can use the colors in the linens to tie the whole table design together or use white or neutral colors allowing the other pieces to take center stage. A black and white buffalo check runner would be perfect with muted orange napkins, white dinner plates and natural woven placemats for your Thanksgiving table setting. The mix is interesting, yet simple. Add a little greenery and you are set!
The third holiday table setting tip is to look through your collections of holiday decorations or other holiday table elements. Many items can be repurposed from one use to another. Get creative. You would be surprised at how certain items used for one holiday can be grouped with other design elements from another holiday to work perfectly. For instance, I have a set of bronze and gold butterfly napkin rings which are somewhat bedazzled that I have used for my Thanksgiving table setting. I later grouped them with dark red linen napkins on a Christmas table setting and everything worked beautifully together. It was something new and different and very unexpected. Who says a beautiful butterfly cannot be used as a Christmas decoration?
The fourth holiday table setting tip is the centerpiece does not have to be fresh flowers. Experiment with decorative items that may not be typical for a table setting such as Christmas ornaments or Christmas tree shaped candles. Create something that your guests have maybe never seen before. A grouping of small Christmas trees in different sizes mixed with small Christmas ornaments scattered about would be a very interesting focal point running down the center. Find objects at your local craft shops such as Michael’s and Joanne’s that can be worked into your table design. Every year just after a holiday I visit the various craft shops and buy things that are being cleared out at 75% to 90% off. Over the years, I have acquired quite a collection of objects for all holiday themes and I have so much fun mixing those to see what I can create that is completely different than the year before.
The fifth holiday table setting tip is to use something other than a center floral arrangement, which is very common. Instead, create small fresh flower arrangements at each place setting. You could create these flower arrangements in gourds placed on each dinner plate for a show stopping tablescape. In the alternative, if you wish to create a more simple and classic table design, use pine twigs or other simple greenery grouped in small vases. Add a few other elements such as red Christmas balls and pinecones for a classic winter vibe with just the right balance of red, white and green. Don’t be afraid to use fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme in small bundles to imbue a natural and pleasant fragrance.
The sixth and final holiday table setting tip is to add a little sparkle and soft ambient glow with the use of multiple tea lights or a string of twinkle lights across the tablescape. These will add an elegant effect and create an element of warmth to the whole table design. If you are using twinkle lights, you can tuck the battery pack under something on the table, so it is out of sight.
I hope you have picked up some ideas for setting the perfect holiday table. The main thing to remember is not to stress. Celebrating the holidays with family and friends should be enjoyed, including the process of preparing your home, the meal and the table setting. Have fun with it and understand that there really are no hard and fast rules. Follow some simple guidelines and you are sure to be successful.
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