With the holidays around the corner, I can’t help but get all kinds of nostalgic, crank the Christmas tunes and kick the decorating and baking into high gear. Growing up, I remember all the excitement of decorating the house and the tree, the joy in watching the strands of outdoor lights light up for the first time each season, helping partake in baking oodles of cookies, tortes and yummy pastries (mostly by licking the spoon clean!) and setting the table with the finest Christmas linens, fine china and flatware that was only used for special occasions. Now in a home of our own, we can’t wait to continue similar traditions and host family and friends through each holiday season to come.
When gearing up to host, whether a sit-down style meal or informal gathering, it’s important to set the mood just right. During the holidays, this can be done by carrying through some seasonal decor into your entertaining space to set the perfect swoon-worthy holiday tablescape. Not only will you surprise your guests with something extra special, but it will also make them feel welcome and add a bit of enchantment to the space you will be dining in. Who doesn’t love a little extra enchantment this time of year?
To give you some inspiration, I’m sharing the dreamy holiday tablescape design that I styled in our own home and sharing my own tips on how you can create your own unforgettable holiday tablescape that is not only inviting, but is a beautiful reflection of you and the things you love and want to share with others this Christmas season.
PICK A COLOR SCHEME
Before you set anything out on your dining or kitchen table, a good starting point is to consider a colour scheme that will guide your holiday table décor. Your inspiration can come from just about anywhere and you don’t necessarily need to stick to the classic holiday colours of red, green and white (though these colours are tried and true and are always a good choice for holiday decorating).
The inspiration for my holiday tablescape came from my interest in the colours I am seeing in nature this time of year. We haven’t had a ton of snow fall yet this season (except for today!) and I have been really enjoying the natural and muted colours of everything in the neighbourhood – the warm tones of dried and curled leaves, the light, white dusting of snow on the ground in the mornings, the natural wood that is exposed when the leaves fall away from the trees and the winter greens that stand strong year-round.
Based on colours in the landscape and some inspo on good ol’ Pinterest, I have pulled together and curated this colour guide for my holiday table décor and design this year:
My vision for our holiday tablescape décor was to keep it warm and inviting with a bit of romantic charm, mostly neutral with lots of wintery greens, a layered and collected look without being too formal or fussy – the results? A casual elegance for the holiday season.
Once you’ve got your color scheme narrowed down and your table cleared, you will then want to start your holiday table décor by creating layers that help to add interest, pattern, colour and texture. You can have fun doing this by using a variety of décor items including tablecloths and linens, table runners, place mats, charging plates, etc – you have my permission to go ahead and get creative!
For my holiday tablescape, I started with a lovely natural-coloured linen as the base that covers the full length of the table and drapes down the sides. Side note — we inherited our traditional-style, wooden dining room set when we purchased our home and though it’s not 100% our taste, it’s in great shape and we’ll be keeping it until we decide it’s time the dining room needs a full makeover or the chairs start to give out (secretly, I hope this will be sooner rather than later!). Any new home-owners feel me when I say it takes a while to accumulate furniture for your home, so you take what you can get before you are able to change it up and fully make it a space of your own!
After the tablecloth was laid, I added a rustic, bark-inspired table runner, that I found from HomeSense, down the centre of the table. I love the way it looks like long strands of bark tied together with twine which really elevates the table because it’s got loads of texture to it both visually and physically.
As I’m a pattern lover, I had to find a way to work some pattern into the design somehow. I found the cutest Kate Spade white and flaxseed fabric placemats with polka dots that I placed at four of the six seats of the table. The bark runner runs fairly long on the table, so adding placements at both heads of the table just didn’t seem quite right as they would not lie flat, so I opted for no placemats at these two spots.
On top of each Kate Spade placemat, I added a charger plate for a total of four green chargers (they have an awesome wooden grain texture to them). For something a bit unexpected, I further added two of the same charger plates to each head of the table, but this time in a gold colour-way.
Here is where I start working in more green and gold accents into the design.
DECIDE ON DINNERWARE DETAILS
When it comes to dishes, dinnerware and cutlery, you can use your everyday set for something more casual, break out the fine china for a more traditional and formal appeal, or you might invest in seasonal inspired pieces and go with a more mix-and-match and eclectic approach. Think back to your original colour scheme and what type of atmosphere you’d like to create. This will help guide the way. For a more colourful look, don’t be afraid to mix colour and pattern throughout your scheme.
We have a classic white full dish-ware set from Sophie Conran for Portmeiron (White Oak Collection) that I used as the dinnerware for our table place settings. I used a salad and dinner plate to further layer on top of the charger plates at each place setting. The faux grain in the plates picks up on the texture from the charger plates as well as the table runner for just a hint of rustic holiday charm. Simple stainless steel cutlery helps break up the warm tones and gold accents in the design.
ADDING A POINT OF FOCUS
The focal point of any tablescape is usually the centrepiece which is often what will “wow” your guests the most and create the overall vibe you are trying to set. The world is your oyster when it comes to centrepieces! You can really do anything you want, with anything you want, which is great in theory, but can also be very overwhelming at the same time if you don’t know where to start.
Most people will do one of three things: 1) DIY and make your own centrepiece, 2) hire someone to do it for you (such as an interior designer, stylist or florist), or 3) do a bit of both #1 and #2. If you are super busy, it may just be nice to hire someone to create a swoon-worthy holiday tablescape for you if you are crunched for time or just don’t want to take on the additional stress of doing it yourself on top of the hosting responsibility. I think it’s important to “outsource” when you can so you can simply enjoy the holidays more yourself too (especially if you are hosting)!
I, myself, find I tend to fit into category #3. I had a beautiful, holiday bouquet created by local florist, Blooms and Flora (Robyn and her team are floral rockstars), and I used my designer’s eye to pull together and style the remainder of the holiday table and sideboard using additional fresh greens, a mis-mash of vintage brass candle sticks that I’ve been collecting throughout the years (mainly from markets and vintage shops) with white tapered candles and mini metalworks tea candle votive hurricanes from Anthropologie and a scattering of frosted, wintery pinecones.
The result – a totally swoon-worthy holiday tablescape ready for eating, drinking and merriment!
USE NATURAL ELEMENTS
I love using simple and natural elements when decorating so why should the holidays be any different? Go on a hunt to find things in nature (and in your kitchen) that you can use as accents in your holiday tablescape decor. Twigs, berries, fresh greenery, nuts, fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices… the list goes on. Natural elements are inexpensive but also smell amazing and will easily add the delicious scent of Christmas to your home.
To bring some natural accents to our table and sideboard decor, I added winter greenery (cedar and pine), painted and frosty-looking pinecones, fresh sprigs of rosemary at each place setting, and even in the festive Pomegranate Gin & Tonic cocktails I crafted for my guests. I love a good G & T (what can I say?) and created this version with a simple twist to carry me into the holidays.
INCLUDE A PERSONAL TOUCH
I prefer the holidays to be about time spent together rather than gifting and receiving, but if you are hosting family and friends, it can be nice to add a small, personal touch or token gift as a way of saying thanks. Personal touches go a long way and can really make your guests feel extra special.
To put on the finishing touches, I attached small glittery pinecone ornaments to each place setting with mis-matched ribbon (some striped, some polka dotted and some velvet) for a little quirkiness. Though these patterns and colours are again, neutral, they play well with the other elements on the table.
I also added personalized name cards hand written in ink to each place setting to further a little personal touch. Another option would be to add a personal note or holiday message if you wanted to opt away from assigned seating.
And no party is complete without cake! It only took 3 tries to get this one right, but it’s my gluten free take on a German Chocolate Cake (a little ode to my Eastern European background!) – layers of decadent chocolate, coconut and pecan goodness.
All in all, I love how the whole decor and styling came together to create that wintery green and neutral vibe with easy elegance I was aiming for. The “layered” table look sometimes has the tendency to sway a bit more formal and traditional, but by incorporating some unexpected elements like the different coloured charger plates, mis-matched linens and ribbon as well as some of the natural elements (I’m nuts about the nuts) and fuzzy chair covers (which are actually accent rugs repurposed!), it breaks away from it’s traditions into something more contemporary and fresh, while still remaining cozy.
Instead of a traditional bow, I also opted for a black and white striped number to add to the faux-boxwood wreath hanging from the window too. The seasonal statement reindeer art chosen to hang above sideboard grounds the furniture piece and the room while adding to the overall holiday theme. He seems to have found a happy place on that wall and I would have to agree too. I’m now ready for crowds to come over – who’s coming over first?
Thanks for popping by to check out our holiday tablescape and home decor this year. I am grateful for each and every one of you who stumbles onto our blog and finds some inspiration here – so, to all of you, a BIG thank you and sending virtual hugs!!
For more design inspiration, tips and to follow our projects, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and sign up to subscribe to our monthly newsletter – I’ll have lots to share and offer as we move into 2018 – dreaming big with lots to come!
Wishing you and your families a happy holidays filled with lots of love, laughter and a lovely tablescape of your own!