Setting Your Table for The Holidays
The holidays are a time for gathering together family and friends - and what better place to gather than around the table for a festive holiday meal!
A festive table doesn't necessarily require a "holiday" theme. If you don't have a vision of autumn gourds or boughs of holly, not to worry! Your tableware itself can provide all the decoration you need. So turn your attention to sparkling crystal, polished silver, gleaming china and of course, lustrous linens!
The foundation of every beautifully appointed table is the tablecloth. Both pretty and practical, a tablecloth can protect your table from spills and scratches (we also recommend a heat resistant, water repellent table pad).
Tablecloth size should always be based on your table dimensions. The rule of thumb is that casual occasions call for a tablecloth with a 6-8 inch drop (from table edge to tablecloth hem). A formal event requires a tablecloth with a 15 inch drop. Two simple formulas will help to identify the correct tablecloth size. First: table width + the drop on one side + the drop on the other side = table cloth width. Then: table length + the drop on one side + the drop on the other side = tablecloth length. A table runner placed on top of a tablecloth should have a matching length. For a round table, measure the diameter of your tabletop and add twice the desired drop. [Pro tip - don't forget to figure in extra leaves!]
Size also matters when it comes to napkins. Here is a quick guide for approximate sizes:
Cocktail napkins - 6x6 inches
Hors d'oeuvres napkins - 13x13 inches
Lunch napkins - 18x18 to 20x20 inches
Dinner napkins - 22x22 to 24x24 inches
Buffet napkins - 27x27 inches
Now that you've gotten all of the sizing sorted out...let the fun begin!
There are no rules when it comes to personal style. But there are SOME rules when it comes to setting the table. Forks on the left, water and wine glasses on the right and coffee cups only appearing for dessert..."a place for everything and everything in its place" does hold true for certain things. Luckily, table linens offer an opportunity to get creative.
Napkins can be placed on the left with the forks or adorned with a napkin ring on top of the plate. Simply folded or intricately fanned, the options are endless.
And don't forget place mats and patterned runners to create more layers of interest.
Dress up snowy white linens with some texture. Crisp cotton mixed with antique lace would be charming. Or you can have fun with color, adding just a pop or an over the top explosion. And don't forget patterns like fabulous florals or gorgeous geometric prints. For the ultimate personal touch, personalize napkins with an embroidered monogram (possibly in your signature color).
Some of the most beautifully set tables become true showstoppers with the juxtaposition of different patterns and styles. A table runner threaded with a metallic accent adds a modern twist to your heirloom sets. Don't be afraid to mix and match vintage with modern, ornate with understated or traditional with whimsical.
Floral arrangements and candles are a lovely finishing touch, but make sure that they don't overpower the table. More importantly, they shouldn't obstruct your guests' view. It's hard to follow even the most scintillating conversation when you can't see the person who is speaking.
Hosting a holiday meal is about more than food or decor, it's about welcoming loved ones and creating a sense of company and community. Whether your holiday table expresses refined elegance, extravagant glamour or delightful whimsy, it's the laughter, storytelling and warm welcome that make it truly festive.