Decorating your holiday dinner table

The stockings have been hung with care and our halls are decked with boughs of holly. Now, it’s time to turn our attention to the dining table, the centerpiece for our indulgent feasts. Surely the decadent display of holiday favorites will be a delight to our eyes {and our bellies} all on its own, but topping off your table with accessories and decorative accents can elevate the experience. To help you, here is my quick and easy guide for decorating your holiday dinner table:

1. Set the mood

Determine the feeling you want to convey. Formal? Simple? Eclectic? Modern? Extend the seasonal style you’ve spread throughout your home onto your holiday dinner table. Think of it as an encore! It’s okay to mix moods, too. Do you lean towards a modern aesthetic, but love to embrace the traditional colors this time of year? Sprinkle some accents that air on the side of classic into your overall contemporary approach. Think 80% modern and 20% traditional, but 100% you. The most important element here is to hone in on what “holiday dinner” means to you, after all you are the hostess.

 {Case in point that you don’t have to sacrifice your simplistic style to include traditional holiday touches. From:  Julie Blanner }

{Case in point that you don’t have to sacrifice your simplistic style to include traditional holiday touches. From: Julie Blanner}

2. Choose your palette

Now that we have touched on the tone of your dining experience, let’s talk color. When it comes to accessorizing your holiday dinner table, there are several ways to apply a palette. The first approach is to follow your home’s existing color palette. There is no harm, no holiday party foul in using your everyday linens, centerpieces and accents if it’s what you have on hand. For the traditionalists, nudge towards a classic color scheme like red, green and gold or blue, white and metallics. Monochromatic palettes are perfect for those that seek a sleek, contemporary vibe. Here, aim for accessories in varying shades of one color and consider different textures to add visual interest, too. Last but not least, for the eclectic crowd, there are no rules when it comes to holiday color palettes. Play around with what you’re drawn to.

 {This rich sugarplum, navy and gold color scheme is simply decadent. From:  West Elm .}

{This rich sugarplum, navy and gold color scheme is simply decadent. From: West Elm.}

3. Use what you have

This is a piece of advice that I will always emphasize and stand behind. Before you venture to the stores, shop your home first and foremost. Peruse your attic, buffet, basement or closet to find those treasures that may have been cycled out of your everyday rotation. Breathe new life into your accessories that may be collecting dust in their current location. Spice things up for your holiday dinner table! Think glass & metallic containers of all shapes and sizes, candle sticks, goblets, decorative bowls, trays, and vases, cake stands and tiered displays. Stock up on basic “filler” items like pinecones, candles, bead strands, ribbon, lights and fresh evergreens. Wrapped candies, nuts, berries and fresh fruit also make for great add-ons that came come straight from your pantry.

 {We stock up on gift wrapping essentials this time of year, so why not swap traditional tabletop decor for a playful vignette of gifts boxes and bags? From:  Style State .}

{We stock up on gift wrapping essentials this time of year, so why not swap traditional tabletop decor for a playful vignette of gifts boxes and bags? From: Style State.}

4. Strength in numbers

One of the biggest mistakes that many homeowners make when attacking the task of accessorizing is they opt to spread their items out far and wide throughout a room. In the case of decorating your holiday dinner table, the lesser space equals more of an impact. Opt to group like items in clusters rather than trying to space them out evenly along the length of your table. A designer tip: aim for odd-numbered groupings. I also want to weigh in with a practical hand here; don’t feel like you need to accessorize edge to edge. If you typically serve your guests family style {rather than a plated meal or buffet, for example} it’s important to leave sufficient real estate for the reason that everyone’s joining you, the food!

 {This “forest” of gilded trees makes for such an elegant statement when clustered together. From:  Rooms for Rent .}

{This “forest” of gilded trees makes for such an elegant statement when clustered together. From: Rooms for Rent.}

5. Layer, layer, layer

Last but not least, let’s talking layering. Give your groupings and vignettes visual interest by differing the height of pieces. Layers help to create unity, by elevating your design from a flat, one-dimensional display, and allow each piece to be seen, too. Use varying bases to help, for example those cake stands and trays I suggested digging out of your china cabinet. Another great source are materials found just outside your door, such as evergreen branches and slices of tree stumps. Layer loose greens to create a natural table runner, for example. Turn vases and containers upside-down to use their bases as a platform for votives or figurines. Festive linens, unique place cards and coordinating napkin rings are excellent finishing touches that double as layers atop your place settings.

 {Tree trunk slices in place of traditional charger plates add an organic layer and an rustic feel, pairing perfectly with the pinecones and loose greens. From:  Better Homes & Garden .}

{Tree trunk slices in place of traditional charger plates add an organic layer and an rustic feel, pairing perfectly with the pinecones and loose greens. From: Better Homes & Garden.}

As you prepare to host your loved ones this weekend, I encourage you to jazz up your holiday dinner tables with a festive pinch of panache. Please feel free to post and boast; I would love for you to share pictures of your holiday tablescapes on my Facebook page.

Happy holidays, from my family to you and yours!

April Pardoe