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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Your Holiday Table...Make It Cozy, Make It Chic!!

The holiday season is such a wonderful time of year! Think back to some of your best holiday memories and I would venture to guess that they were centered on the people gathered around your dining room table! There is just something special about the magic of a congregation of friends and family together around the table, embracing past traditions and making new memories.

In today’s society, eating together as a family as a daily practice gets interrupted with our abundance of activities and overflowing schedules, so the festive meals during the holidays take on extra special meaning. If you are blessed with the opportunity to host family and friends around your dining table this year, slow down and savor every minute of your time together. You can even use your time dressing up the table and preparing the meals as memory-making opportunities! To help you we’ve listed our 6 easy steps to a beautiful table setting below:

1. It all starts with choosing the right the table.
More dining room tables are purchased during the fall than any other time of year. If you will be purchasing a new dining room table this year and are trying to decide which table best fits your needs, there are three things to consider.
• Shape
Making the decision about which shape table to buy is probably one your easier decisions. The shape of the table should be based on the shape of your room and the number of people in your seating requirements. Generally, rectangular tables are more efficient, as you can seat more people around a rectangular table per square foot than you can any other shape of table. However, certain layouts and rooms will require round or square tables for ease of passage or access.
• Versatility
Next, you’ll want to think about the versatility your table provides. Does the table have leaves? If so, do they need to be stored separately? Can one person easily extend the table?
• Material
Once you have found a table to match your versatility needs, then you’ll want to decide on the material out of which the table is built. Wood? Glass? Stone? Metal? Consider your eating area as you make this decision. If you have a home with wood floors, wood furniture, and exposed wood beams, you may want to break up the consistent use of wood with a glass table. Likewise, in a setting with chrome, leather and concrete, you may want to use a wood table to add warmth to the room.

2. Choose a "theme” for your table.
The word “theme” does not imply that your table decorations should be juvenile or over the top. Rather, the theme should invoke a mood or feeling for your diners. You may choose a festive Christmas table of lime green and red plaids, with black and white accents to invoke a casual dining experience of light-heartedness and whimsy. Or, you may go for a more monochromatic color palate, using different shades of creams and whites to create an elegant and sophisticated dining experience. Each of these themed settings creates a distinctly different feel. So put some time into thinking about what mood you’re shooting for. To help you decide, you can look for inspiration almost anywhere. Some of the most common theme choices are based on colors, patterns, shapes, specific achievements, holidays or events.

3. Pick coordinating linens.
Decorating a holiday dining table is ironically similar to getting dressed in the morning. The table linens you choose are like your clothing, through which you will express your sense of style. The linens’ color, pattern and texture will all build on one another to create your overall “look.” Now if you are like me and like to bargain hunt, practicality in your linen purchases is going to be of the utmost importance. Just as you have your wardrobe basics, you’ll want to strategically purchase several basic linen items that will create the base for your holiday table arrangements. Choosing linens in neutral beiges or creams provide you a great a great foundation on which you can build upon for multiple holiday arrangements, yet not spend a fortune. From there, all it takes is a few accent colors and unique pieces to spice up your table. You’ll save a bundle, but still be able to achieve a variety of looks.

4. Make the centerpiece the focal point of your table.
The centerpiece should be exactly that! It is the center of everyone’s attention at your holiday table. Thus, it is important that you find the perfect fit for the look you are trying to achieve. Centerpieces can be something as simple as a bowl of orbs, or as complex as an intricate floral arrangement. It’s simply a question of personal preference and desire. As you choose, you’ll also want to keep in mind the size and durability of the centerpiece.
• Size
When dressing a table that is just for aesthetics, the size of the centerpiece can be much larger and more dramatic, than one over which tabletop conversation will take place. In the latter, you will want to keep the size of the centerpiece well below eye-level so that conversation is not interrupted by the d├ęcor. Typically, you need the centerpiece to be tallest in the center and picturesque from all angles. Bowls, trays, candles and greenery are some of the most common choices for centerpieces, but there are endless options when you use a little creativity.
• Durability
Regardless of the size and shape of the centerpiece, you want to make sure it can be easily picked up and moved when it comes time to grab your napkin and dig in! One very practical option is to use a decorative serving dish as your centerpiece. It is functional, durable and decorative at the same time, which saves you cash and saves on precious tabletop space!

5. Make your settings beautiful.
When it comes to making a beautiful holiday table one of the most important rules is to know the proper way to set the table. Do you remember where the bread plate and the dessert fork go in formal setting? If not, brush up by studying Emily Post’s recommendations on setting the table. Once you know how you’ll set the table, you’ll want to layer each setting with placemats, chargers, plates, bowls, and stemware to provide a visual array of height and colors. Again, choosing a fairly neutral color of dishware allows you the option to accent with deeper colors and textures for varying holidays. Sometimes, simply switching a charger and napkin ring can bring a whole new feel to a table arrangement and only costs you a fraction of the price of a new set of dishware!

6. Embellish!
Finally, every good outfit needs a bit of bling! In our dressing analogy, the table embellishments act as the jewelry that give your table a little sparkle and shine and provide the impressive “wow factor!” For an elegant, formal affair, this may include adding velvet slipcovers to your chairs, place cards at each setting, and clever little party favors to drive home the theme. An additional embellishment that will get your guests talking is folding your linens into clever shapes or objects to coordinate with the rest of the table. No matter what theme you choose for your table, there are easy ways to embellish to make your table arrangement the talk of the party!

Now you’re ready to make your holiday table something you’ll remember for years to come. By following these few simple rules and preparing your table in advance of the holiday, it not only takes some of the last minute rush out of the preparations on the big holiday, but it makes the dining area festive and creates an expectation of a wonderful time coming. In our busy world, we can all appreciate a relaxing meal with friends and family. Strive to make more of your meals “holiday beautiful” this year. You’ll find that beautifully decorated tables can make every meal a feast of good taste!

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Great Event Last Night!

    Janet, Anna, and Jen....
    Last night marked the beginning of a new decorating series we are doing in conjunction with our local Pier One--and what fun it was! We taught class participants all about how to decorate tables for the holidays.....

    1. Choose the Right Table

    2. Create a Theme

    3. Pick Coordinating Linens

    4. Make the Centerpiece the Focal Point

    5. Layer Your Place Settings

    6. Embellish!

    The highlight was definitely the segment Anna taught on how to fold napkins into holiday items--pumpkins, Christmas trees, snowflakes and turkeys....everyone walked away with a little tidbit for how to "wow" their guests this holiday season!
    Join us again next quarter for another fun class....and the best part--it's FREE! See you there!