Nearly two years into the pandemic, for many of us, seeing friends and family is more meaningful than ever. Holiday gatherings no longer feel stressful or obligatory, but a true celebration of joy. This means the stakes for holiday decorating are higher than ever. No longer is a beautiful Christmas tree, brightly lit menorah, or a charming lawn display enough. A tablescape fit for a feast is a must for the 2021 holiday season.
While creating a tablescape sounds like a challenge or yet another line on your to-do list, it’s easier than it appears. Here are the best tips, tricks, and ideas for designing beautiful tablescapes this holiday season and all year round.
Outsource The Creative Part Of Tablescape Design
Too busy shopping? Looking for a shortcut? A tablescape in a box is the easiest solution to this problem.
Social Studies has a gorgeous selection of pre-curated tablescapes and decor kits, which instantly update any table for the current season. CEO and co-founder Jessica Latham tells me, “We created the Occasion Boxes to help reduce stress around the holidays by bundling all the festive table decor you may need. We’re definitely seeing a return to elegant and understated decor so we developed this year’s holiday assortment with that in mind. The Grateful Occasion box is perfect for fall holidays combining contemporary items like velvet pumpkins and traditional ones like pinecones.”
Not sure which tablescape to choose? The Madewell x Social Studies Four-Person Dinner Party Kit has a versatile look that works for just about any holiday or occasion. It has everything needed for a complete tablescape including dinner plates, salad plates, napkins, flatware, candles, bottles, and even a carry case for easy storage.
Here’s How To Build A Tablescape
Start designing the tablescape by choosing dishes. White plates are popular because they bring out the color in food and work with just about any decor scheme. But they can also look plain and uncreative.
So, opt for something that versatile yet elevated such as the Gabrielle bone china dinnerware set with gold detailing by Stone+Lain. These dishes are just as good for a formal holiday setting or dinner party as they are for everyday meals. But unlike most China, this set is dishwasher safe and accessibly priced.
The Gabrielle dinnerware also coordinates particularly well with Joanna Buchanan’s napkin rings. Glitzy and glamorous, these pieces are essentially jewelry for the table. From bows to bugs, fireflies, snowflakes, and more, sets can be purchased for different occasions and swapped out for multiple looks.
Linen napkins are non-negotiable for a proper tablescape. Joanna Buchanan’s linen napkins pair perfectly with the napkin rings and Stone+Lain dishes. While it’s impossible to go wrong with white, darker hues are easier to clean if you’re concerned about laundering.
This combination easily works with a variety of placemats, runners, and tablecloths. While a gold runner or tablecloth works for just about any occasion, you can also go with holiday-themed textiles such as Green Plaid Placemats from Chefanie.
A Whimsical Tablescape
Tablescapes are a great outlet to express creativity or do something a little bit different. Pink can be a festive option all year round. Start with Fable’s Blush Pink Dinnerware. Hand-finished in Portugal, these ceramic dishes have a unique pearlized finish that will give any tablescape a dreamy and airy yet refined vibe.
With a vintage-inspired aesthetic, Fable’s Japanese crafted glassware also pairs perfectly with the dishes. These glasses are thin (yet surprisingly durable), light, and perfect for serving cocktails with a slice of fruit or a dried grapefruit garnish.
Then add green Iconic Leopard print placemats by Matouk Schumacher with coordinating napkins. This print is equally refined and fun.
For maximum whimsy, finish with artist Elizabeth Sutton’s signature Butterfly Napkin Rings which are available in both nickel and gold finishes.
Go For The Gold
While not entirely necessary, no matter the tablescape, gold flatware always looks more interesting than everyday stainless steel. Note that many manufacturers recommend hand washing to maintain the finish, but Rigby Satin Gold Flatware maintains its finish for years, even in the dishwasher.
Accessorize The Table
Joanna Buchanan suggests shopping your own shelves for table decor, which is a particularly smart way to save money and avoid shipping delays “Pull in personal or beautiful objects that live in your home… shop your own shelves and don’t get tied into what it ‘should’ be.”
Buchanan says it’s best to pick a signature piece and build off of it. “The interesting thing is that a table is not a permanent installation so you can really have some fun with it. Use your grandfather’s crystal decanter, a vintage china object that is great for color and pattern that you can be inspired by, stacks of old books with artful greenery placed around them. Think of a table like a window in a shop— a peek of something inspiring.”
But if you want something new, candlesticks are a timeless choice. Tiffany and Co Classic Candlesticks compliment formal tables, while Sistain’s Maple Candle Holders are causal and bring natural elements to your table.
A simple vase with flowers also works. The December Bouquet Box is great for this purpose.
Created by Courtney Sixx and Mark’s Garden, this DIY deconstructed flower arrangement kit comes with a starter box that has a shorter lucite vase, which makes it easy for everyone to see each other from across the table.
Chrissy Horton of Horton Lane is a big believer in bringing nature to the table, especially during the holiday season. “The best way to elevate any table this holiday season is using nature. My favorite tablescape to date is my Christmas table, where I used pine branches as the centerpiece.”
However, Horton insists a beautiful tablescape doesn’t have to be expensive. “When I host larger gatherings, I use white disposable plates and gold disposable flatware. The utensils you use do not have to be expensive. It is all about how you style them! Elevate each table setting by adding a charger or garnish to the plate. For my Christmas table, I used leftover pines and placed them on the napkins on each plate. It is a small and affordable way to take each setting up a notch!”
Don’t Forget The Details
Chef Stephanie Nass likes to add snacks to the table. “In addition to flowers and candles in the centerpiece, I love to sprinkle beautiful fruits, nuts, cookies, and candies, so guests can munch in between courses.”
Don’t forget personal touches. After all, 2021 will be a holiday to remember. “At each guest’s seat, place something with his or her name. This token can make guests feel considered and become a memento of the evening after it’s over,” she says.