Tips for Setting an Impressive and Practical Holiday Table

Ready or not, we are fast approaching the holiday season.  Some people have been unashamedly blaring the Christmas music since November 1st, while others are still in denial about the whole thing and will be Amazon Priming all of their gifts at the last possible minute.

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Galsgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, or any other holiday meal this season, chances are, you want to step it up a bit from your daily eat-at-the-table-with-homework-bills-and-other-accessories kind of night.  Now that hosting is on your mind, you realize that you don’t have enough silverware that matches.  And did you break half of your wine glasses, because why do you only have three?!

You’re resourceful.  You’ve got this. Plus, you’ve got me! And I have some experience with styling not only one, but two tablescapes in the recent past 😉

One of my recent table settings

Problem: Your table is looking a little tattered from water rings and dents from the kiddos.

Fix: Instead of running over to Home Goods for a standard holiday tablecloth, try something more sophisticated and unexpected.  For an adult crowd, use a beautiful, hand-dyed styling cloth like this one from Rosemarine Textiles.  Worried about the kids trashing it?  Purchase a roll of brown butcher paper and use it as a natural looking runner.  Or, cut it to fit your table, scatter some crayons around the table setting, and voila!  Kids will appreciate having something to do, adults will be grateful to doodle and avoid awkward political conversations with the relatives, and clean-up will be a little more fun when you get to see the unique tablecloth that your group created.

I styled a quick harvest themed place setting using a rust colored cotton from Rosemarine Textiles

Problem: You don’t have enough matching place settings.  And the only mix and match you’ve seen on Pinterest involves surprisingly coordinating items (calling their bluff?).

Fix: Borrow from another family member if you don’t have enough.  Suspicious that Great Aunt Shirley’s stuffing is food poisoning waiting to happen?  Ask to borrow her china in lieu of bringing a dish to share.  Win-win!  Pretty sneaky, right?!  Hating everyone else’s taste in tableware?  Take inventory of what you’ve got.  Mock it all up on your table, spreading out the different place settings evenly to make it look more effortlessly eclectic and less like you just realized more people showed up than you had planned.  Create cohesion by adding a repeating element like matching napkins under each plate.  This will also add a layer of depth and interest to the table without taking up extra space.  I like using a napkin instead of a placemat or charger because when you’re crunching the maximum amount of people around your table, your placemats won’t have enough breathing space and will look too crowded.  Napkins can be folded and run vertically from the top of the plate and hang down the edge of the table.  If you’re going to purchase new, you might as well support a small business using plant-based dye and get something beautiful and timeless to boot!

Layering a napkin under the plate gives the setting depth and interest

Problem: There are plenty of gorgeous centerpieces on Pinterest, but only if you don’t want to see the person across the table from you (which quite possibly, you don’t, so that works!) and only if you don’t want to put any food on the table.  Not everyone hires waiters to serve the food and whisk it away?!  Shocking, I know.

Fix: Think of the food as a part of the centerpiece.  Plan for the food items that will be on the table (mock it up with empty platters), and sprinkle in smaller elements.  Trim some sprigs from your evergreen and add them as a garnish to your food platters (not edible, of course!).  Use smaller bud vases at each place setting instead of one large centralized bouquet. 

A green apple and air plant adds a simple level of sophistication

Cohesion and repetition will be your best friend here.  Repeating elements will make your table look more cohesive and styled.  Small details create big impact when repeated.  Use what you’ve got.  Fill in the rest with a little creativity.  Be unapologetic and bold.  Don’t try to hide the fact that your glassware is mismatched.  Own it and use it and it will turn out better than using paper cups because you’re so focused on matching.  Don’t go crazy buying up all of Hobby Lobby’s latest and greatest because of what you saw online.  Your table will just end up looking like an ad for Hobby Lobby.  Buy less often, but when you do buy, make it count (for more advice on this, check out my last post).  March to your own drum.  Purchase elements thoughtfully, pull out what you’ve got, and make it work!

No Comments

Post A Comment