Setting A Memorable Holiday Table

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Setting a beautiful, amusing, modern, traditional or totally offbeat holiday table is just about the easiest do-it-yourself project there is because you can’t go wrong. If you’re putting up a tree and other decorations around the house, you’ve already got most of what you need. You can literally shop the rooms of your house for table supplies.

I like to use three or four kinds of china over the holiday season and different color schemes using chargers, tablecloths and napkin rings of different moods. But you could easily celebrate just one theme and one color scheme to carry you through all of December and into the first week of January. To get you started here are some tips I’ve learned over the years from area interior designers who excel at creating original tablescapes. That’s what they’re called – tablescapes.

Before you start on your table, decide on a holiday theme such as Santa, Victorian, Romantic, Winter Wonderland, Woodland Animals, Florida Tropical, Jingle Bells, Toyland – whatever suits your fancy.

Determine your colors. You should have two main colors and a third for accent. And include at least one metallic such as silver, gold, brass or copper. All holiday tables want a little glitz, even if it’s just the gleam of heirloom silver.

Layer your table from the bottom up – table cloth, over-cloth or runner, placemats or chargers, dinner plates. Plates part of your color scheme too, but white always works and if you are seating a lot of people, plain white might be what you have. So, go with it and bring in color with other objects.

Invest in napkin rings. They are the jewelry of your table. Don’t have any? Tie your napkins loosely with ribbon and slip the ribbon through a small tree ornament or bell for extra fun. Use place cards if there are more than six people sitting at your table. Make your own place cards or buy them at a party store. There are hundreds and you’ll be able to match your table theme. Place cards add to the rich layering of the table and it’s a convenience for guests.

Candles? By all means, if your dinner is after dark. Unscented always. Candle glow softens the whole look and blends everything together in a mellow and inviting way. And use candle rings for extra color and texture. They’ll help reinforce your color palette. I like to vary the heights of the candles on the table and think nothing of having six or eight candles burning for a meal. And tuck some battery-operated LED lights into your centerpiece.

Play with the design and the arrangement of your original holiday tablescape. Move things around, add and take away. Your eye will tell you when you’ve got it just right.

P.S. Your best friends: French-wired ribbon and several cans of spray paint to get the metallic finish you want. Spray baskets, branches, twigs, faux boughs, garlands, faux fruit, inexpensive wreaths, and metal and wooden objects such as reindeer, antlers, elves, miniature sleighs and such. You can do this! Send us photos.