It’s no secret that I love setting beautiful tables! I genuinely believe it enhances a wonderful meal by providing the ambiance and it shows your guests that you put some thought and care into the dinner party.
Christmas is a wonderful time to be creative (and a bit over the top) in extravagant table settings. It is not uncommon for me to change my tablescapes three to four times during the holiday season.
I don’t own Christmas china. It’s not because I haven’t been looking but I haven’t found anything I like at a price I’m willing to pay for tableware that will be used only for a very short time of the year. Some of the Christmas patterns are just way too busy and I would truly use them only for display because food would certainly not show up on them. Plain white dinnerware is best for food presentation. Other Christmas dishes on the market just look too chintzy or cheap to me and so I leave them on the store shelves. Besides, I have my Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” china and Christmas provides a prime opportunity to use it.
Having specific Christmas china is not necessary to set a beautiful holiday table. What I do is work with the colors in my existing year-round china when designing my tablescapes. For example, the background in my china is white and the primary color in the floral pattern is pink and the secondary colors are lavender and green. The edge of each piece bears gold-colored trim. Therefore, I work with those colors, no matter the season, and stay away from reds, yellows, blues, and so forth. If I was doing it again, I would choose a plain white china pattern with either a gold or silver trimmed edge for two reasons. First, food looks great on white and, second, it lends itself to the use of any color scheme you want to use. The other thing I do is make sure the wall color and soft furnishings, like draperies, chairs, etc., in my dining room are of a color that they work with my china. In my case, my dining room wall color is sage green with white trim and chair railing. My chairs carry that green and also have gold color in them so that ties them to the gold on the china.
So my approach this year. I decorated my dining room fireplace mantle in winter white. That allows me to add color to the tablescape without conflicting with another color on the mantle and it leaves several options open. For my first tablescape of the season, I have picked the green color in the china and made green my primary color with gold as the accent color that picks up the gold trim in the china and the gold-colored chargers.
These Christmas tree candles have proven versatile.
In this tablescape, I have elevated the tree candles on to candlesticks of various heights. I then casually draped a short gold berry garland around them – this, again, picks up on the gold-rimmed china and ties the centerpiece to the gold charger plates. I like to mix and move my Christmas decorations around the house so the three reindeer moved into the dining room as they nestle beneath the green trees.
I am famous for using Christmas tree balls everywhere throughout the house during the holidays so I have strewn a few amidst the tablescape to fill in some gaps. To keep the theme going, I used my petite ornament placecard holders and selected placecards that had a tree theme. I don’t always use placecards but they do add a finishing touch of class to the tablesetting.
To add a glow of light at the base of the tablescape, I added some tiny gold-trimmed votives. Their glow adds to the ambiance.
I like white tablecloths because they are clean and pristine and provide a wonderful blank canvas for the table setting. The white makes any tablescape stand out, no matter its color (with the exception, perhaps, being a white tablescape). This is an antique Irish linen tablecloth I am using in this table setting. Because my oval dining room table is not large, I opted for a napkin fold design that would fit inside the soup bowl because available table space is at a premium and, placing the napkins on the table, would interfere with the tablescape focal point. The napkin fold I chose is called “Pure Elegance” and it is a relatively easy fold to do.
Be sure to use good quality large cloth napkins in a formal table setting, never paper napkins. Again, white is always a good choice for napkins because it goes with anything. As well, plain napkins lend themselves well to any napkin folds. If, however, you have patterned cloth napkins that blend in with the tablescape you are designing and they don’t detract from it, by all means, use them. Just keep in mind that some napkin folds don’t lend themselves well to patterned napkins. As is always my recommendation, after you have finished setting the table, take photographs of it from several angles and view them – this will tell you if something is amiss, too much, too little, and so forth. This allows you to make the necessary adjustments before your guests arrive.
Setting a beautiful holiday table does not have to cost a fortune. Look around your existing Christmas decorations and see what you may already have that could form a tablescape for your holiday dining table. I bought nothing new for this tablescape. It has been constructed completely from my existing Christmas ornament and candle collection.
Sometimes, we think the centerpiece has to involve flowers and, lovely as they are, that is not always necessary. Early in the season, I tend not to go with real flowers but, as we get closer to Christmas, at least one of my tablescapes will involve fresh flowers. How elaborate you choose to make your tablesetting is up to you. I have two suggestions. First, consider the event you are hosting. For example, a brunch or lunch will merit a much less elaborate tablescape than will, for example, a formal evening dinner. Second, consider the dinnerware you are using and work with it. Earthenware is more casual than formal china so make sure your tablescape bears that in mind as the dinnerware will be the cue from which you take your design for the table centerpiece. In order to achieve a harmonious and coordinated look for your table, the elements must all work and blend together.