Setting the holiday table top is often a hurried chore after hours slaving in the kitchen. Prepare this season in advance by planning ahead, decorating the tablescape days before the meal, and by knowing these designers’ simple rules for how to make it proper and equally stunning. An elaborately designed table is not something only for the pros. With these tips, including a few of our favorite hosting must-knows, you’ll be sure to have a memorable holiday gathering.
Add a Surprise Element
No one would expect to find ornaments in your chandelier but that is just what we did with one of our own holiday table tops from a few years ago. Almost every patron that walked in the shop gave a compliment about the design. It was surprising and fun, and got them to look up. Consider doing this in your own design if you have a lantern chandelier. Venture from the norm and add in blue balls with snowflakes or holiday tinsel. If you have a standard shaped chandelier, hang ornaments from the arms with strings of ribbon in a mismatched fashion to garnish attention and steady the eye up. This concept will help rid the table of bulky centerpieces if you have limited space. Another idea is to offer small bottles of sparkling water next to each place setting. The extra thoughtfulness will impress your guests.
Know the Basic Rules
If you missed our blog last month on Thanksgiving table tops, you missed an important concept that all hosts must know. KNOW THE BASIC TABLE SETTING RULES. We really cannot stress this enough. Forks on the left. Knives and spoons on the right. Take a quick peak at one of the thousands of images online to guide you should you need it and BEFORE you invite your guests in, make sure your utensils, glasses and plates all are in the right spot. There is nothing worse than inviting your guests in and them rearranging your table to make it proper. Napkins either should be on the left or atop your dinner plates. We love when see them folded neatly between the dinner and salad plates as we have done in years past. Another note – only put out what you are planning to use. For example, if you aren’t serving soup, remove the soup spoons from your design. Regardless if you are serving a casual meal or hosting a more formal affair, place settings are important and could either make or break your evening. Don’t let this be the something that could go wrong.
Wrap the Table like a Present
Some of the most inspiring table settings we have seen are those that look like holiday gifts. Use what you have in your Christmas bins to make it really stand out. Place a bow atop each salad plate or use ribbon as napkin rings before placing them on the table. Ask for help from the kids for creating name tags for the place settings like what you would see on the “to” and “from” tags on actual Christmas presents. Or, even go so far as to using small, wrapped Christmas presents as your centerpiece or line a handful down the center of the table to mirror a runner.
Design your Table with your Guests in Mind
As we mentioned in our last blog, your table top design (regardless of the occasion) should be planned with your guests in mind. Use varying heights for your centerpieces but take a seat while you are setting your table to ensure your guests can see over the centerpieces. If they cannot, change it up so your supper conversation will not be limited. This is especially crucial should you have guests with hearing loss – they oftentimes read lips to be a part of the conversation. Should you also be planning for children, aim to keep your settings a little simpler. Invited a few lefties? Plan to put them on the far end of the table and not smack dab in the middle between two righties to avoid the elbow bashing game.
Offer Coffee with the Pie
The ‘hostess with the mostest’ is always one (in our eyes) that offers coffee. May it be our traditional Italian upbringing roots or just the fact that most of the population (including us) drink coffee like there is no tomorrow, but we like coffee with our dessert. After the meal, offer a cup of coffee or eggnog to your guests to keep the evening flowing. With hosting, know that some guests will immediately leave after the meal but if they see coffee cups and pie, they may feel more inclined to stay and continue in the holiday festivities.
Don’t forget to Give
This time of year is blessed with the gift of giving. We give to charities, neighbors, friends and family and sometimes those we don’t know. We shower others with joy and love all season long. Don’t forget to also include your guests in this holiday spirit. As your guests leave, gift them with a small special token of your appreciation and friendship. We do not mean go out and buy each guest a present. What we mean is to give them a small, inexpensivethank you for being a part of your evening. Think cookies or a cute jar of hot cocoa mix with marshmallows. It’s like goodie bags for children’s birthday parties, but for grownups. Your thoughtfulness will make you a supreme host or hostess in your guests’ eyes and make it an evening they will remember when the see your small gift days later.
For more designer must-know table top tips, read our November blog post here and stay tuned as we post more blogs every week.