Low lighting, perfectly imperfect flowers—fun accessories from around the house. A showtopping table setting is simpler than you think, and these three style gurus are here to help you design a perfect holiday evening at home.
Bronson Van Wyck
Event Planner Extraordinaire
Although they seem great from afar, tall centerpieces have no place at a holiday table. Nothing should be over 14” (unless you’re trying to avoid your crazy aunt in town from Boca)!
KEEP THINGS IMPERFECT—AND IMPROMPTU
The best creations are those that don’t look too done. Smaller, looser arrangements of flowers in similar colors feel the most modern and fresh. And don’t have your heart set on particular blooms. Buy whatever looks best that day.
Polish up some antique silver or dust off that crystal from your wedding. Load up the table with accessories that hold special meaning and memories: family ornaments, pictures of holidays gone by, kids’ Christmas crafts…you name it!
Flowers aren’t your only option. I like to fill the table with seasonal fruits and vegetables—pumpkins, gourds, pomegranates, apples, persimmons. This works especially well when you don’t have time to go shopping: raid your kitchen!
BRING THE OUTDOORS IN
If you’re worried about your arranging skills, choose potted plants that are step up from poinsettias: amaryllis, Christmas cactus, cyclamen. Want something pared down? Succulents mixed with moss and ferns will do the trick. BONUS: they double party favor for guests to take home at the end of the night.
Event Planner and Designer
MIX ‘N’ MATCH
Some of my favorite tabletops come together with pieces—plates, chargers, flatware—that mix color families and textures. It adds personality and makes guests feel more settled because it has the appearance of being “imperfect.”
CUT WHAT YOU NEED
You can usually spot me walking around downtown Charleston with pruning shears to steal leaves from my neighbors’ plants and trees. Usually what you can find in your own backyard beats anything at the flower shop.
To make things cozy and warm, buy a bolt of velvet from a local fabric store and drape it over the table. It will instantly feel much more inviting.
DON’T FORGET DRINKS
I like creating spaces at the table for bottles of wine. Never make your guests get up for a re-pour!
I always use place cards for dinner guests. Arrange people so that conversation is easy and everyone gets to know one another.
Found of Land of Belle
LET THE LIGHTS DOWN LOW
I love a dinner party in a dim room, mostly lit by warm candlelight. Plus, everyone will look their best.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Buy whatever flowers are in season from your local market, and stick to one or two shades of color. Instead of worrying about a large arrangement, create small bunches of a single bloom and put them in vases—or to make things even easier, tumblers—of varying heights for an effortless but artful and romantic tablescape.
OR FORGET THE FLOWERS
Decorate a table with tons of candles, at different levels! Mix and match whatever you have—votives, hurricanes, candlesticks—and add seasonal leaves or flowers down the center, directly onto your tablecloth.
In lieu of a traditional centerpiece on a table, opt for decorative objects you have around your home. Arrange clusters of items in seasonal colors (like Land of Belle’s ceramic sea urchins or caftans!) for a fun, unique, and thoughtful table.
One of my favorite looks: Small, potted parlour palms on your table. They truly work all year, and will instantly put your dinner companions on island time. Layer in fruit or flowers: citrus and bright pink flowers work well for an Amalfi Coast spirit; while grapes, figs, pomegranates dusted in powdered sugar create a festive but exotic holiday vibe.
We’ve got just the thing: “Design & Style” by Carolyne Roehm is overflowing with gorgeous table design ideas—and so, so much more. It’s a visual feast!