10 Tips for Setting A Beautiful Table For The Holidays

By Ashley Cole

As we move into the festive season filled with gatherings often centered around food, it is once again time to think about tablescapes. Wandering around stores filled with cardboard turkey centerpieces, plastic inflatable santas and brightly colored decorations that will see the basement or landfill after being used a few times can be uninspiring — to say the least. What if you could use items you already have around your home and layer in interest with subtle texture and color without going out and spending a bundle on throwaway items? It is possible. You can set a beautiful table that your guests will be talking about well into the New Year.

Start neutral
Take your basic white, black or wood table and chairs as a base. Invest in quality white dinnerware that can be used year-round, but can also be elevated for the holidays with layers of color and texture. A simple white tablecloth is a staple everyone should own.

Embrace vintage
Gather mismatched knives, glasses and dinner plates. Bring out antique serving dishes. If you have an assortment of flea market finds or Grandma’s china, mix it in with the basics for interest. For example, layer vintage salad plates over the white dinner plates. Mismatched flatware isn’t a bad thing. Who knows? It could create a topic of conversation on how you collected the different forks, knives and spoons throughout the years.

Accent color
Pull a color from the vintage pieces you selected as inspiration. Or, pick a color from the placemats or table runner you already own (even if it’s non-traditional holiday hue) to begin a color scheme. Timeless colors like blue, rust, lavender, or green work particularly well. For a simple way to bring the look together, stick with a single accent color.

A touch of silver or gold
Touches of metallic add sparkle to a festive tablescape. No need to overdo it. Simple ribbon around the napkins, glasses with a silver rim or metal candlestick holders can do the trick. They add drama and a feeling of celebration.

Add height
If you pay attention to the tables decorated for the holidays in the magazines or at a wedding reception, you’ll probably notice that not everything on the table is at one level. If you don’t have a vase tall enough to create dramatic height, set it up on a decorative box. Stack books and cover them with the tablecloth or extra fabric napkins to set a dish or grouping of candles.

Don’t underestimate the power of ribbon
Being the holiday season and all, there is a good chance you have ribbon laying around somewhere. Even if you don’t, it’s easy enough to pick some up during your next outing to coordinate with your color scheme. Placing a border of ribbon around the white table cloth or tied around napkins is simple way to pull the look together. Added bonus: ribbon can be reused for wrapping gifts after the party is over.

Take a walk
Walk around your home and collect clear glass vases, candle holders, and quality holiday decorative pieces like ornaments or holiday themed salt and pepper shakers to layer into the tablescape. As you already have a color theme going, try to find objects within the same color family.

Bring the outdoors in
Collect greenery from your yard (evergreen branches, pine cones, leaves) and create a centerpiece or small accents at the top of each place setting. Nature can bring a fresh, organic vibe to your dinner table.

Light your way
Ambient lighting is key when creating a beautiful table. There is nothing like candlelight or tea lights to set the mood.

Have fun
Play with a few combinations. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You and your guests are going to hold onto the memories that are created around the dinner table more than the decorations adorning the tabletop. Remember what is important during the holiday season and embrace each moment with loved ones, laughing, sharing and, yes, eating.

Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole is a professional interior designer based in Grand Rapids. Her work has been featured on HGTV as well as numerous publications, including Kitchen Trends and Home Magazine. Ashley’s passion is “creating environments that enliven the spirit.” Visit her website at www.ashleycoledesign.com.




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