Looking for a beautiful, perhaps inspiring tablescape to encourage family togetherness this holiday season? Maybe you want one that can easily transition from November to December to January with minimal cost to adjust elements as the holiday changes. I know I do. Here are some ways to transition your table easily enough while incorporating a bit or piece from each holiday.
Foundation is key. You have to have good bones and start from the base building up in layers. Pick a table that is both wide and long enough to accomplish what you’re trying to do. If you need to put large bowls and plates of food (family-style) on the table to pass at meals, make sure you either have a table large enough to accomplish the decor elements you want or you’ll be sacrificing those later. I like a table to be able to sit at while entertaining. I also LOVE decorating the table in extravagant ways, since it is the main piece that joins my kitchen and living rooms (picture an L, with the table being in the corner of the connecting pieces). We have done our fair share of entertaining at my house, and like to be able to seat 6-8 people at the table. My table is 3 feet wide by 5 feet long. That being said, it’s hardly enough room for the massive scapes I produce as center pieces AND platters of food. BUT it definitely has enough room for 10″ plates on every side of the tablescape.
Next, you need fabric. Depending on if you have an uneven table, spillers in your group, or just want a nice smooth surface to layer on, you may want to think of a protector like a table pad to put under your tablecloth. Once that is decided on, you will want a tablecloth. Sometimes simple is best-a solid color.Sometimes, you aren’t going all out for decorations and may want a fun pattern. I’ve done it both ways in the past.
Now onto the important part: the toppings. (It’s like building a pizza, isn’t it?!) You will need to have a concept or theme in mind, so you know which direction to go in. Here are some more recent, popular options: All metallic, Snowflake, Earthy (pine cones, bark/sticks/wood, greens, cranberries, acorns), Nutcracker, Monochromatic, Color Splash, Trees of varying shapes sizes colors, Deer… There’s no wrong way to go necessarily, but you will want each element to tie together in some way. So, an example would be that you can’t decide between Metallic, Snowflakes, and Earthy. Well, that’s simple. In November, you will start decorating with Earthy elements like acorns and maybe cranberries along inside a wooden crate or with something wooden. You remove the acorns and transition it into December with snowflakes that may have gold or silver glitter on them, varying heights of candle holders in a lovely mercury glass finish while keeping the wood piece you used in November along with the cranberries and some candles. You may even add greenery to replace the earthy element you remove with the acorns. Then, in January, while it still may be snowing, you want to decorate for the New Year and maybe even the remainder of the month. You remove the greenery and maybe the cranberries, add even more metallic with spray painted sticks/twigs and incorporate a clock, the year in large numbers you bought or sprayed chrome or gold and/or a New Years banner or sign. In case you weren’t with me through the description. I’ve included pictures. I should also admit that I LOVE decorating for Christmas and these three holidays in particular actually. But so that I don’t end up with a mad hubby, I only change out the tablescape. Each year, sometimes a year or two in advance, I start planning and looking for various elements to create my scape. Never underestimate the possibility of finding something you may have missed your chance at last year in this years holiday décor selection at places like Marshalls and TJ Max. Sometimes it takes me a few years to get my scape decided on and have enough pieces collected to make it a full table. Something else to consider when thinking this through, are you going for height or length? No doubt you are not trying to push your guests plates off the table by choosing to go wider. You will need to keep that in mind if you choose any candle holders, flowers, or anything with height.
Once you have ALL of that decided, you need to decide on your serving dishes and dinnerware. Why? That is important for the overall look. Do you have white china or does it have a pattern on it? That pattern may play an important part because it could clash. It may look silly to have a wine/grape vine theme Pfaltzgraff plate with Nutcrackers dancing in the middle of your table. You’ve put in so much time and effort into this masterpiece. You should also be thinking of the little details (which aren’t so little). That’s why I’m here, really, to help you think of those things. You’re welcome.
Arranging may not be your forte, but you will know when you don’t like something. Most people get a feeling, they can’t describe it but something just feels off or uncomfortable. Never ignore that feeling. A lot of people try to brush it off, really in design, it’s vital for helping you choose what you like and what you can live without. Keep playing with the placement until you get it right in your gut and walk away when you are frustrated. Come back when you are not frustrated, with fresh eyes. I struggle the most with floral arrangement. I just don’t have the knack. When I helped someone recently do flowers for a wedding, I was the assistant. Perfectly fine with me. She showed me what to do, I did it with no problems. If the table feels too cluttered, it probably is. Some of the best looks however are accomplished by layering. Playing with heights is also important. If it feels like there is too little, add more. You’ll know. You’ll feel it. What you want to be left with, is someone to come in for this gorgeous meal, and before they even sit down, be in awe over this masterpiece you’ve created. They haven’t even seen the food yet or tasted one sip of wine.
Lastly, to place or not to place. Do you want certain people to sit near each other or others to not sit by each other? Will there be conflict? Will there be too much giggling? Not everyone puts place cards out, but for a truly formal occasion, it adds something. To some, it’s just one more thing to think about. To others, it’s necessary. I can’t remember a time where I prepared place cards. Not even for my wedding, then again, it was a strolling dinner and informal that way.
Here are some great ideas and products to get you thinking. Some of these are what we have at our house and personally use. Some of these can be found at Fence Row Furniture!
Since we are a barn wood furniture company, I tried to include things with barnwood! This year’s current options from Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, World Market, Pier 1:
A simple idea: Take out the pumpkins, gourds and orange sprigs and put in ornaments, holly and more pine cones for christmas. Add the metallic numbers shown below for New Years.
A nice texture as well as varying heights to put things in…
One more note to touch on, if you use candles, consider their burn time. You don’t want them dying out long before the party is over. This is especially true of tea lights.