Special occasions unfolding between the months of November and January require a more formal table than the daily place setting. However, the essentials of a well-set table come at a cost. From food to flowers, there’s always the worry that there won’t be enough to go around, the table will appear a bit bare and everyone will notice where corners were cut. This is not what the holidays are about, and so Krrb has come up with a few tricks to gloss over your minimal effort. Your Great Aunt probably will think you outdid yourself, and she will tell you so.
Here are our simple, chic tips for making it all happen while setting a party-ready table on a savings-ready budget.
Skip the Tablecloth, Start with the Table Runner
The rustic look is in this year, and the chance that your table is ready to own it, having a few scratches and dings here and there, is great. Hone the style with a single piece of barn wood, running it across the center of your long table in place of a cloth runner. The wood accommodates beautiful knick knacks, such as old vases, white candles, vintage plates and those mason jars you’ve seen featured in decor magazines all year. You could layer this wood on top of a tablecloth, being that the simple elegance of wood pairs well with any and every pattern. But again, it’s unnecessary.
Elongate Your Table with Flowers
Because I love flowers, my advice is just to buy flowers—a lot of them. (No, all of them.) The lovely ladies of Whim Events in Boston are here to temper my zeal, reminding me that most people don’t have the space to add a large centerpiece to their holiday table. Also, most dinners are served family-style, and a centerpiece that contains every single flower at the market could get in the way. However, Natalie and Moira do love the idea of bringing in height in different ways, including adding greenery to your chandelier or incorporating candelabras. When creating the perfect bouquet for a holiday centerpiece, you want to stick to low, loosely arranged flowers. With rectangular tables, use multiple bouquets. For a round or square table, a single vase is perfect. Oh, and keep your scents subtle. The turkey must reign after all.
Use Pillow Covers as Table Mats
Margaret Zainey Roux is a fabulous home stylist from my neck of the woods, and she comes bearing tips. Living in New Orleans, it’s not difficult to find beautiful, handcrafted odds and ends from any small shop on any given day. An ornate pillow case is one of those odds and ends that’s easily found, and you should consider collecting them to use as place mats if they abound in your neighborhood as well. Check out her website Margaret Zainey Roux for any questions you might have along the way. She’s just about sweet enough to answer ’em.
Mix the Plates
The big secret to combining vintage dishes is to coordinate colors. If you have different patterns and colors of place mats on the table already, consider the divide-and-conquer approach to all of your china patterns that don’t seem to go together. Pick the three colors that are most prevalent in one table mat, and find those colors in a mixed set of dishes. This way, antique goes with contemporary, ethnic with classic, and country with city. Furthermore, your Great Aunt (the same one) will be pleased to see that the Bavarian china bowl she gave you last Christmas still exists, going well with the small Limoges plate you love so much.
Set the Table, Properly
The first words of wisdom that I remember learning from my father came as followed: “You can dress up a pig, but it’s still a pig.” I’m unsure if this concept applies to setting the holiday table, but I feel it’s worth noting that no one can call your table a pig if you get the foundation right. If we’re going to look good breaking the rules, mixing patterns, eras, and family heirlooms, we need to equip ourselves with a solid tutorial on formal table settings. Watch the video below to learn how it’s done. Pinkies go back down and bottles back up shortly hereafter.
Make Handmade Name Cards, without the Cards
Sometimes people like to be told what to do, and that applies to seating arrangements. Let the West Coasters chit chat with the East Coasters before wandering off to locate their name or, in this case, their customized golden pear at the table. Our friend Amy of Glitter In My Tea has shared this wonderful tip on how to bypass pricey letterpress name cards and get the same sophisticated look with DIY Pear Place Cards. The project requires three ingredients and very little time. Plus, your guests can take them home as keepsakes!
Personalize the Kids’ Table
Don’t forget about the kids’ table, but you can forget about place cards for the kids’ table. No one’s sticking to assigned seats over there. Instead, shape their napkins into cute symbols of the holiday season, such as turkeys or Christmas trees. Some will preserve your masterpiece, and others will destroy it. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful touch that the parents will appreciate and you’ll enjoy making. Watch the videos below to learn how to fold your napkins for two significant holidays this season, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Fold napkins into little turkeys:
Fold napkins into Christmas trees:
How do you make your holiday table look so swell every year? We want to know! Share your tricks for setting a beautiful, budget-friendly holiday table in the comments section below.