The Holiday Table

The Holiday Table
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tableWe all want a special look for our table during the holidays, whether entertaining the immediate family or the entire neighborhood.

Elegance doesn't have to mean expensive, especially when creativity and imagination is involved.  

There are many creative ways to decorate a table, but when it comes to centerpieces it's important to remember these tips:

1. Never allow a centerpiece to overwhelm the other table features. It should complement the place settings, tablecloth etc.

2. The centerpiece should never block the view of your guests. They should be able to easily see each other to chat comfortably. If you aren't sure, grab friends and family and do a test run before the dinner with enough time to change the arrangement if need be.

3. The centerpiece and other decorations should be elegant and simple, leaving room for platters and serving dishes without giving the table a cluttered appearance.

How do you decide on the look of the table? Set the table with the settings that will be used for the dinner, including the serving dishes. Stand back and imagine what colors would bring the table to life, giving it a festive, welcoming feel. Choose the colors first, then go on to figure out what items could be used to bring those colors to the table. It may be:

-natural greens, berries, herbs or flowers
-vintage or new ornaments
-baskets or bowls

I'm a very visual person, and I find inspiration in many places such as nature, magazines (print and online), pictures and my garden. It's not always the new, shiny things that inspire; sometimes it's something from an old book, magazine, postcard or picture that triggers an idea. Try thinking of the feelings or messages you want to convey to your guests, and then use those to inspire the look of your home and table.

Practical Recipes for the Housewife is a hardcover book published by the Detroit Times in 1934. It offers some helpful tips that can be applied to the holiday table.

Buffet Table Arrangements

“The table cloth may be of damask, lace or embroidery or runners if the hostess prefers. Careful arrangement of the centerpiece, be it flowers or fruit, are its main charm. Candlesticks come next, or a candelabra may be used for the center, with flowers on either side. Candles are not used, however, before four in the afternoon.”

“The coffee or tea tray, or the punch bowl, are placed at the opposite ends of the table. Plates filled with sandwiches, tea cakes, etc., are arranged down each side, with the silver and china needed close by so that guests may serve themselves easily. Piles of napkins, too, must be where easily reached. Guests stand or sit at a buffet meal, as they wish.”

Tips for Table Setting

“Pickle jars, catsup bottles and tooth picks likewise have no place on the well dressed dinner table. Pickles and sauces, if you must have them, are served in glass dishes with small serving spoons--likewise jelly or marmalade. “

It's easy to get swept away in the commercialism of the holiday season and to spend more money than necessary to impress those who come to your home. People appreciate the warmth and welcome atmosphere of a home, more than expensive place settings that give a room an "untouchable" vibe. Creativity and imagination are far more important than the amount of money spent.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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