Some of us are blessed with the “D” (designer) gene and well, some of us can cook. Let’s just say that when my BFF arrived for Thanksgiving last year she took one look at my “set’ table and shoo’ed me out of the dining room, telling me she would be glad to make it “all better.” Since I know I’m not the only one challenged in this way, I turned to some experts and asked them to help me out with some simple ideas to help readers get ready to set their holiday tables.
Here’s what we came up with.
Use those family heirlooms and consider moving it all outdoors.
If you have family silver or china, take it out and use it. Examine all of your pieces in advance and determine what needs to be polished. If you don’t have enough place settings, consider borrowing from your sister or a friend. Mixing patterns makes the tablescape more interesting anyway.
If you love the look stylist Lauren Kreter nailed here you may want to shop tag sales and consignment shops for odd pieces. She wasn’t concerned with a color scheme for the whole table; she simply wanted each dish to play nicely with others at the same setting.
If you yearn to dine al fresco and the weather allows, consider using folding tables (inexpensive to rent) and bring the celebration outside. Everybody loves to extend the summer and Rosh Hashanah often graces us with perfect weather.
After you decide to use your good china and flatware, mix in elements from natureso your table doesn’t look stiff and formal. We kept the white linens basic (read: inexpensive) and layered a topper of bright green moss over a burlap runner. Both can be purchased at craft stores.
When you handle burlap or moss it can shred and be messy. Just be brave, place them down once and build your setting around them. Note that we kept goblets and napkins basic, allowing the brightly colored china to star.
Incorporating gifts into your table setting will delight your guests. In keeping with the tradition of eating sweet foods on Rosh Hashanah, consider sharing single origin artisanal honeys with your guests. Mix and match flavors like wildflower, blueberry blossom and red currant so they can imagine flavor notes and trade with each other.
It’s OK to leave your dining table undressed!
For our second table, we decided to leave the dining table bare. If you have a protective coating on your wood surface (and don’t have little ones around the table) this allows the mellow tones of the wood to contrast with your crisp bright china.
Here, we coordinated family china with other mix and match plates with silver elements. Florist,Meg Greenberg, incorporated more silver elements by placing cascading bunches of crimson grapes and pale peach roses with honeysuckle vines tucked neatly into a silver basket she discovered while thrifting .
Want to assign seats and keep family rivals from creating a ruckus? Place pomegranates or apples onto each place setting and poke place cards into the fruit. That way, YOU determine who should sit next to that difficult cousin.
If you place your flower arrangement and it looks dwarfed by the length of your table, consider setting it into a tray to expand its perceived size. Fill the tray with edible elements (crab apples, pomegranates, walnuts, grapes, figs) that will tie it all together.
While looking for more ways to use the silver theme, we rummaged through my sideboard and found chunky napkin rings we threaded with white linen napkins. We even found a little extra room to tuck in some olive wood honey dippers. More searching revealed an oval silver dish.
Instead of placing the hand rolled beeswax tapers (wouldn’t you love to receive those?) at each place setting as a gift, they looked better piled into that dish, adding interest to that end of the tablescape.
Your “every day” stuff is ok!
Finally, we wanted to show how to use your everyday porcelain or ceramic dishes and stainless flatware on a holiday table. It’s fairly easy to create a holiday look, especially if your dishes are basic white.
Here, we searched for a starting point to inspire us. We found this gold rimmed, antique china bowl that I had tucked away from my Mom’s collection of such things. While we oooh’ed and aaah’ed over the brilliant green and generous shape, we were inspired to bring it all outside again and connect it to the green tones in the landscape.
Finding simple, solid napkins that connect to the color of your object of inspiration is an easy way to brighten the table. Sticking with the honey and apples theme was a natural so we piled the heirloom bowl with bright green local apples and snipped off the rose heads to fill in around them. Pile it all in there so it makes a strong statement, without spending a lot of bucks.
If you can find objects around your home, like these tall 1950’s iced tea glasses (and their caddy) see how they work into your plan. By taking your everyday ware and mixing in one or two unique items, you can easily set a beautiful table that honors the importance of the day.
A few more weeks to go, and Hanukkah is almost upon us. I am sure some people might feel uncomfortable with the Americanization of our holiday. But for me, I say when in Rome…get festive with the best of ‘em.
Every year when the holiday catalogs arrive, I scour the pages for white, blue and silver decorations that could be appropriate for a Jewish celebration. And in recent years, its been great to see so many mainstream stores featuring Hanukkah themed adornments, decorative dreidels and affordable menorahs.
I’ve picked out a few of my favorite, modern takes on Hanukkah. Hope you find some creative ideas that strike your fancy!
As a fan of simple table settings, I love these bright blue votive candle holders, paired with these silver cloth napkins . I have also had my eye on these starlight pewter candleholders, or these modern silver place-card holders both of which could be paired nicely with pillar candles, and crisp linens. Some fun Hanukkah gelt wouldn’t be a bad touch either.
If you’re looking for a bit more sparkle, check out these beautiful photos and ideas from HGTV on “Hosting a Sparkling Blue and White Hanukkah Celebration.”
Apartment Therapy has some great ideas for your Modern Hanukkah Tables. And if you’d like to re-create the Martha Stewart look (and you’re not the crafty type), why not pick up this Manzanita Candelabra from West Elm.
Blowout Party has some very creative ideas not only for Fabulous Hanukkah Decor and Desserts but also for a blue and white themed Hanukkah Dessert Party, which you might try as an alternative to a more traditional latkes and apple sauce menu. And while we are on the topic of Hanukkah-themed desserts, check out these adorable Eight Nights of Lights Cupcakes – they are sure to wow your guests!
We’d love to hear about your great finds and bright ideas for how you will celebrate and decorate this Hanukkah!
When I was a kid and it was my turn to set the table I usually forgot to put out napkins. Then when we sat down to eat my mom would look at her plate and say, “Well I don’t know about you, but I’m a messy eater.” And that was the cue to go get napkins. (Ironically, my mom was not at all a messy eater, but she was good at making her point.)
As an adult, I have to admit that I am an appallingly messy eater. If you give me paper napkins, I end up needing at least three per meal. It’s a problem. But there’s a solution!
Cloth napkins, people. You need them. I swear on all things greasy and delicious, using cloth napkins will make your life so much better. They work better as napkins. They’re usually bigger. You won’t feel bad about killing trees every time you wipe chocolate off your face. They can be pretty. You can put them in fun napkin rings.
Yes yes, I know that you will have to wash them. It’s true. But even after a big meal, we’re talking 8-10 napkins. That’s like two shirts. Really, not a big deal (and I say this as someone with a very small washer/dryer). Plus, you can use one cloth napkin all week. Unless you are eating something super messy that can hardly be contained with a cloth napkin (I can’t even think what this would be) a dirty cloth napkin will still be good enough to use for a whole week of meals.
You can get napkins for cheap at TJ Maxx, Target, Marshalls, and Bed Bath and Beyond. Or get nicer ones on etsy. Use them forever, and everyone will think you are so posh. (You are!)