Christmas is one of my truly favorite holidays because it’s so abundant, elegant and lush. It can also be contemporary, primitive country, hunting lodge rustic or childlike because it is a holiday that can be expressed in a million wonderful and unique ways. It’s a fabulous opportunity to bring fresh creativity to your table and have quite a lot of fun in the process. Just go on a shopping trip through your cupboards! Many people have dishes, glasses and silver serving pieces that have been left to them; why don’t you bring them out and use them? It doesn’t matter if some of them are broken and the glasses don’t match. Spread everything that you could use out onto the table and take a look. Find a couple of unifying colors, in other words colors that can work with all of the bits and pieces that you’ve got and then choose a tablecloth, napkins and charger plates in those colors. A charger plate is what used to be called a service plate and it adds a bit of color underneath of the dinner plate . It’s so easy these days to find charger plates in many solid colors and they’re very inexpensive. Choose a metallic color such as copper or gold if you want to dress up your tablesetting yet keep it feeling warm. Choose them in red and green if you want your table to be traditionally festive and remember; it’s a bit like layering an outfit one piece at a time all the way to the necklace and scarf.
Don’t worry if you have glasses that don’t match. You can go to any store these days and find wine and water goblets in lovely jewel tone colors. Why not set your table with every other goblet being a colored one. Alternate colored napkins and have a great time playing with color and texture on your holiday table. Whatever you do, when someone mentions how beautiful everything looks, don’t ever say, “ Oh, thank you but it would have looked so much better if I hadn’t broken my wine glasses and had to replace them this way”. Remember that this is your style and you like it this way because matching everything is simply not as unique or as personal as you want your tables to be.
You can be very creative with napkin rings. Some of the best are the little hard plastic or glass ones that you can put a bit of water into and a little arrangement. Go outside or to the local market and pick whatever is left of the fall herbs and flowers to arrange in them or go all out with some holly and ivy! Then pull the napkins through the rings and set them onto your table. This is a beautiful way to bring some greenery to your place setting. You can also use elegant antique silver ones or you can get some pretty fabulous napkin rings adorned with Swarovski crystal. If you're really creative you can go to the craft store and make your own out of ribbon, bits of crystal or pre made tassels.
If you like a bit of sparkle, this is the place to use it on your table; napkins generally being very flat colors, can take a bit of glitter. Don’t forget candlesticks as they really add so much ambiance, especially when you mix the shapes and sizes. Why don’t you dress those same candlesticks with herbs, flowers, fresh greenery or pretty silk ribbons? When it comes to candlesticks you should always use an odd number because it looks so much more balanced. Candles that are metallic are often used this time of year but I'm going to go on record as saying that I don't like them. They're rarely drip free and they do tend to make a nasty mess. They also don't look nearly as pretty once they start to burn. Choose candles in complimentary tones and save the lovely metallic colors for chargers, placemats and candlesticks.
Although the cornucopia is traditionally a symbol of the Thanksgiving celebration, I love to use them well into the December holidays because they make creating an abundant and gorgeous arrangement absolutely effortless.
You can use a cornucopia at Christmas time in many ways. The traditional Thanksgiving use is to fill it with fruit, vegetables and flowers, but I like to use a cornucopia on my sideboard as the centerpiece for a wonderful cheese and fresh bread display. This is easy to do. Fill the cornucopia with kale leaves, slices of French bread and an assortment of crackers so that they are spilling out of the mouth of the horn. Then arrange several wheels of cheese very close to the bread along with several cheese knives. Add apples, pomegranates, pears and several pitchers of varying sizes filled with Christmas flowers and votive candles to the display and it will look sensational. You can do the same thing with freshly sliced vegetables, pate's and dips.
I love to use tableware pieces in many different ways. Do you have an old fashioned three tiered tea tray that's just gathering dust in your cupboard? Pretend that you're in Williamsburg for the holidays and display it with crystal glasses of differing sizes filled with holiday flowers and little bowls with holiday candy. Why don't you take your grandmothers old teacups or demitasse cups and filled them with potted ivy, holly berries and festoon them with ribbons and little ornaments? This way everyone has a pretty little individual arrangement of their own and the larger centerpiece can be low enough for everyone to converse across the table. Do you have dozens of mismatched silver teaspoons? Why don't you use them to serve a luscious bit of crab or lobster salad. Remember, there are no rules to be broken here, only a meal to be enjoyed together with family and friends.
This year I hope that you’ll have fun with your holiday tables by looking at them with fresh eyes and allowing your inspirations to flourish! Do something just a little bit different and I promise that you’ll have just as much fun as your guests. Relax and enjoy being the star of your own party. When it comes to your creativity, the sky’s the limit!
I hope that your holidays are filled with peace, laughter & oh so much love!