Break Away from Old Tabletop Decorating Habits

It's become an annual tradition: you've always done holiday decorating in a certain way. You've always had the same light displays on the bushes in front of the house. You've always put up Santa tea towels looped over the oven door. You've always put out reindeer soaps in the powder room soap dish. And you've always set the holiday table with a large centerpiece spilling over with pinecones and glass balls. You've always, you've always, you've always! It's time to break out of your annual decorating rut.

The delightful thing about being adults is our ability to be flexible, to change, to break out of routines, and change mind-numbing patterns. Here are some tabletop tips we'd like to share with you that might help you break out of the mold a bit this year (remember: you can always go back to comfortable tradition next year; it's fun to change it up every so often and experiment).

  1. Who says that flowers always have to be the heart of a holiday table centerpiece? Place different sized glass vases, cake stands, and bowls of varying height in the center of the table or lengthwise along the table like a visual "runner." Fill them with colorful fruits, nuts, and candies. Tie in the colors with your placesettings by either harmonizing or contrasting the look, e.g. bright orange fruit contrasting with metallic-look plates. It's nice to go taller in the center with your tablescape, then taper off towards the ends, but be sure to keep your centerpiece management height-wise so the centerpiece can stay on the table during the meal and your guests can easily see across the table and carry on a comfortable discussion.
  2. Try a more casual holiday buffet this year. In the kitchen or breakfast room, set up serving stations and guests can pick up plates, serve themselves their main courses and sides, then find a place at the table. Make sure condiments and seasonings are on the table to begin with. If a guest wants seconds, they go back to the buffet area and get what they want. This avoids the passing hassle at the table and frees up table space for decoration as you no longer have the need for finding a place to wedge in the salad bowl or green beans once they've made the rounds. Later in the meal, clear away the mains and sides and switch the buffet stations over to dessert, tea, and coffee and have everyone help themselves at a festive dessert buffet.
  3. Play with a new color scheme for your holiday table this year. Banish the red and green, everything has to be matchy-matchy look and be more bold. We have friends who decorated their holiday table with spring pastels and covered the table with small sprays of yellow tulips in silver mint julep cups. Mercury glass birds were clustered with the flowers and the silver cups and shimmering mercury glass ornaments added holiday glam to the table. And what a festive touch to bring Spring flowers into the dead of Winter! Try decorating in jewel tones for a richer luxe effect or sprinkle in metallic tones of gold, copper, and silver to make your table sparkle.
  4. Use cloth napkins and add fun napkin rings that add a festive note to your table. We picked up some stunning napkin rings at Bergdorf's this year that are miniature peacocks with long peacock feathers -- imagine how festive these fowls would look on the table. Remember that these extra touches on your table are like accessorizing an outfit with jewelry.

Keep in mind that your guests will be going to many holiday parties this year. After awhile, it's going to be a visual blur of red and green. You can make your holiday party more memorable and refreshing by breaking away from traditional decorating.

Jay JohnsonComment