Although delicious seasonal foods are usually found center stage at any holiday dinner party, you’ll want something fabulous and festive to serve them on! During a recent shopping trip to many of Northeast Ohio’s finest gift and tableware stores, I discovered that the tradition of setting the seasonal table is definitely alive and well, not at all just a memory of holiday seasons past!
In my experience we all really look forward to the holiday entertaining season as the time of year when we can pull out all of the stops and unashamedly enjoy a bit of excess. A well-dressed table not only complements the meal, but it will make your guests feel so very welcome. As soon as they walk through the door they’ll sense that it’s not just ANY evening. You’ve taken the time to create something special just for them and it will add another layer of wonderful memories to an already delightful season that they’ll never forget.
Take the extra time to create a beautiful table, particularly if your guests are “ just family”. They’re the ones that it’s worth going to all that trouble for! There is really something to be said for a family tradition of dinnerware that only comes out at certain times of the year. Bringing out the holiday dinner plates and decorations gives a child continuity, something to look forward to every year that allows them to feel as if they belong. That’s such a precious gift to pass on and it will spill over into their own families for many years to come.
When it comes to holiday dinnerware almost everyone is familiar with good old tried and true patterns like Spode’s iconic “ Christmas Tree” or Johnson Brothers “ Friendly Village”. Those good old fashioned traditions are still wonderful and easily found, but these days there are so many new holiday patterns to choose from. Even a serving piece or two can change the look of your table-settings and make everything feel brand new and as festive as can be!
Just like your holiday menus, holiday table settings do require some planning. Before you purchase anything new, open up your cupboards and take a look around. See what you have that you’d like to use and look at it with a fresh eye. Try taking one of your plates to a fabric store to see what new color combinations you might enjoy. Holding the dishes next to a full color palette will inspire new choices for your table and will help you to discover what new pieces of dinnerware you might like to add to your collection. A piece or two of colored glassware along with some new serving pieces can be used to highlight a particular color or theme in your dishes and change the mood from same old to something fabulous faster than you can say Happy New Year !
On a recent shopping trip in Northeast Ohio, I discovered so many delightful new patterns and found there’s one for every taste! At Mullholland and Sachs in Eton Collection there is a handmade Italian Christmas pottery by Vietri ; a whimsical and friendly pattern named Old St. Nick which is hand painted and has plenty of great serving pieces including holiday dinner bowls for your favorite pets! They also carry the lovely crystal Christmas trees from Simon Pearce which would look absolutely glamorous on your table or sideboard from Thanksgiving all the way to New Years eve
When I walked into Peter Danford in Shaker Heights I discovered that one of my favorite winter patterns had been brought back into production; a stunning formal china pattern by Lynn Chase called “Winter Game Birds Red ” that can be used all season long just by mixing up the table linens, centerpieces and glassware! For a less formal but no less beautiful table setting they also carry Giens adorable pattern “Filets Noel”, a pattern that is a very pretty and very French alternative to the familiar English Christmas tree. While enjoying the lovely displays I also discovered some absolutely gorgeous branch and vine serving pieces by Michael Aram, including one of the prettiest Menorahs that I’ve ever seen.
At La Bella Vita in Eton Collection there is a truly fanciful new set of enamelware by MacKenzie Childs called “Evergreen”, a tartan, pine bough wrapped and checkered bit of holiday whimsy that looks as if it would be so much fun to play with. Like all of the Mackenzie Childs patterns, besides the traditional five piece place settings, there are so many imaginative tableware pieces that could be used on your holiday tables in so many different ways. They too have a wonderful selection of the Vietri Old St. Nick , along with a wonderful selection of harvest themed serving pieces by Vietri, Vagabond House and Mariposa that would be warm and evocative on any Thanksgiving table.
For those of you who really love traditionally beautiful tableware, you will find that it is possible to create absolutely splendid holiday tables that are completely unique and gorgeous at Greenwald Antiques on Chagrin Blvd. This is a store with a selection of some of the most beautiful old dinnerware patterns, sterling silver flatware and giftware that I’ve ever seen in one place. Their collection lends itself so beautifully to the mix and match concept of table-setting. They showed me a unique Christmas table set with beautiful antique dishes, ruby crystal salad plates, mother of pearl handled knives and forks and some beautiful ruby wine glasses. Five minutes later by changing the salad plates to a lovely Meissen fruit pattern and adding antique green hand-painted stemware, we created an absolutely lovely Thanksgiving table. Chanukah is a holiday that is traditionally very formal, but doesn’t really have any porcelain associated with it. Creating a beautiful Chanukah themed table would have been so easy using the many pieces of fine cobalt blue porcelain, cobalt stemware and sterling silver that I saw lining the lovely cabinets!
How many of you have stacks of those old Royal Copenhagen and Bing and Grondahl Christmas plates that were such popular collectibles for so many years? People are always asking what to do with them, because if you had a mother or grandmother who was a collector you’ll have dozens of them. Instead of hanging them on the wall or storing them away forever, why don’t you use them! They are fully glazed, hard paste porcelain and they are dishwasher safe. These little Christmas plates make some the prettiest salad or appetizer plates that you’ve ever seen and in a blink of an eye can turn your Blue Willow or Cobalt rimmed dishes into a sensational holiday table. Add flowers, candles and stir!
Along with some great new pieces of holiday dinnerware, I’d encourage you to consider brightly colored chargers, glassware and linens to spice up your holiday table. A gold, green, bronze, silver or red charger under almost any plate will pull together your wonderful new look and so can the addition of some new table linens. So often people are afraid to introduce new colors onto their table so remember, the tablecloth is really the canvas for the whole table. Don’t settle for a plain white tablecloth unless that’s what you really love. Think of your table linens the same way that you would your wardrobe. Layer everything to create warmth. A colorful tablecloth, patterned placemats and colorful napkins in different fabrics and textures set the stage for your new dishes to really shine in a way that’s unique to you. It’s a bit like layering a sweater, skirt, boots, jewelry and a scarf!
Holiday entertaining is really associated with nurturing. Nobody deserves beauty , enchantment and elegance more than your family and close friends! Promise me that you’ll have fun with your table this holiday season, because if you’re having a good time then you can be sure that your guests are too! Just a few of these delightful seasonal pieces will brighten up your parties and are sure to have your family and friends raving about your sensational new style for weeks to come!
For more tablesetting tips and tricks, please consider purchasing a copy of my book~
Links for the stores mentioned in this article:
Knowing that most of you reading this are probably doing so from another part of the country here are the links to the companies that I've named here. Contact them and they will give you the information for the retailer nearest you!