I'm struggling with ideas for decorating my Christmas table. I always love those magazine tables with gigantic exquisite festive centerpieces, tons of glassware, a stack of plates (and a bowl on top), side plates, enough silverware for an army, several elegant candles, and an abundance of real Christmas plant material...paperwhites, amaryllis, holly, boxwood (you know, all that expensive real stuff!).
It's all for show, however, because in my home we prefer to serve the food family-style, from the table. We place all the serving bowls and platters on the table, and do lots of reaching and passing of things! Maybe this is unsophisticated, but it's a ton of fun and you can eat as much as you like without getting up. Plus, food is a beautiful thing.
However, table decoration becomes a problem. A central centerpiece takes up too much space and needs to be moved before the food can be laid out. I currently have a large glass urn on my table full of white and silver ornaments, but this is really just a place holder until I figure out what to do!
If you're serving from the table, and have several guests, candles are a problem. Tall ones can get knocked over (and they're in the way) whilst low ones can catch a sleeve on fire!
As wonderful as the table looks laden with food, there doesn't leave much room for decoration. I envision having a decorated table before the meal (i.e. centerpiece, etc.), and then having to move it all off when the food is ready. But then, the table is left with only the usual suspects...the tablecloth, simple plates, cutlery, glassware, napkins, and a bunch of food in the middle! Where's the decoration?
As a foundation, this year I will use a beautiful new white tablecloth from the Pottery Barn. My plates are white with a powder blue rim (about 2 inches wide). We'll only use two plates (dinner and bread), so I don't have a big stack at each place setting. Sorry girls, but there will be no soup bowl. Luckily, most of my serving bowls and plates are blue and white, but I don't own crystal, nor real silver, and my dinnerware is rather plain (I haven't yet started my china collection!)
This looks rather bland. I've been thinking of adding napkins and rings, to give some excitement to each place setting, but that means I have to buy (or make) napkin rings and new cloth napkins (I have 4 in orange, 4 in dark blue, and 10 in hot pink!). Remember, my colour scheme is green and white and silver and I'm already working in those darn blue plates!
I don't want to buy more cloth napkins and I already bought a really pretty set of paper napkins with a green and white holly pattern that I'd love to use (see photo, right) as the limey-green matches a lot of my things!
This isn't enough decoration. I know people will just be thinking of food, but I really want the table to look festive too, while the meal is being eaten, not just before!
So I think I need a runner down the middle of the table, if I can find one I like. What do you think? But this could take a while to find. I adore runners, and have some real woven ones, but they are all white or ivory, nothing green or festive, say.
Another idea is to buy festive/glittery/sparkly chargers. Can you use chargers if you have a tablecloth? I've never been fond of chargers (I prefer placemats) and they are really only meant as a placeholder when you're swapping plates. Since this won't be a multi-course meal (it will instead be a big pile of food on the plate), chargers seem silly. They would be purely decorative and sometimes your plate spins on them. And I also would need to buy them. Pottery Barn had killer gorgeous silver square jewelled-cloth chargers that weighed about 10lbs each, but they were $37 each, so I passed on those.
I've been thinking that maybe I could put a little decoration at every place setting? I could dismantle a grocery-store poinsettia (cream colored) and put flowers at each place setting. Or maybe I could use candle lanterns with enclosed candles that won't light my guests on fire. Or perhaps a small low centerpiece (real plants, from a florist, in my colors) that can stay on the table along with all the food?
What do y'all think? What do you do? What's your table philosophy?
Maybe I should just throw down some pine cones, put more wine on the table, and call it a day?
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