Fernanda Varela

Devon Liedtke Shows Us How to Set the Chicest Neutral Holiday Table

It's minimalism at its best.

November 17, 2021
As an alum of Paloma Contreras’s design firm and co-founder of retail shop Paloma & Co., Houston-based Devon Liedtke is no stranger to the world of beautiful things. She recently launched The DL, her own creative and design consultancy and blog where she readily shares favorite finds, inspiration and decorating ideas that reflect her love of all things clean and neutral. So we asked her to whip up a holiday tablescape just for us that showcases how to achieve a subtle—yet still fabulously festive—seasonal display.

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If someone were to ask me my favorite color, I would probably say earth tones. I am unabashedly a lover of all things neutral. In a world of patterns and colors, I have found a patternless, colorless corner where I am happiest. For this Thanksgiving tablescape cream linens, white dishes, dark clay vessels, and autumnal-hued flowers set the scene. Gather your nearest and dearest, grab a fun seasonal cocktail, and toast to all the things you are thankful for. (And, yes, it goes without saying that you will be very thankful for these eight tips below!)

Fernanda Varela

1. Find an inspiration point.

When I go shopping for my centerpiece, I usually have no idea what the finished product is going to look like. I go to the store and let everything from the produce to the flowers inspire me. I think about the varying textures and earthy hues and allow this to dictate the direction and tone of the table setting.

2. Carry the color palette throughout.

Once you decide on the palette for your centerpiece, the rest will fall into place. I usually limit it to the colors of the chosen foliage and my go-to neutrals. For this setting, I found a beautiful rust-colored rose for the flower arrangements and that inspired the ribbon tied around the napkins.

3. Let the party live on.

I like to add little name cards to each napkin using a handmade seeded paper that I found on Etsy. After the meal, guests can take them home and plant them! It plays on the harvest theme while still adding a personal touch.

  • Fernanda Varela
  • Fernanda Varela

4. Bring in seasonal touches.

When I think of autumn I think of changing leaves and cornucopias overflowing with produce. I lean into this for my decor and layer in seasonal items, like gourds, pumpkins, pomegranates, persimmons and figs. You can even use the acorns, pine cones or crisp and colorful leaves found right outside your door.

5. Think beyond fresh florals.

Dried and preserved plants can add a lot of texture to a tablescape. I love putting preserved bunny tails in the arrangements or scattering dried amaranth across the table and tucking them into each napkin. The best part? You can use them year after year!

  • Fernanda Varela
  • Fernanda Varela

6. Skip the tablecloth.

As a mom of three toddlers, I can promise that you won’t find me steaming tablecloths in my free time (what free time!?), so I skip this altogether and allow the table to breathe. It’s one less thing to do on a busy day; plus, it keeps the table looking clean and minimal.

7. Create a bar moment.

For any sort of cocktail party or dinner, I clear out my everyday decor to create an impromptu bar moment and serving station. I like to do one large statement floral and then layer in seasonal items. I add a water pitcher, an ice bucket, cocktail glasses, a few bottles of wine and all the fixings for our guests to fix their cocktail of choice.

Fernanda Varela

8. Mix up a seasonal specialty cocktail.

Growing up, I remember my mom and dad would make a special cocktail for any event they hosted. It was such a fun and creative touch for guests. So I have made it my mission to carry on the special cocktail torch! Here’s what I’ll be making this Thanksgiving:

Apple, Spice, and Bourbon Cocktail

Juice of ½ a lemon
1 ½ shots Bulleit Rye Bourbon
2 shots fresh Apple Cider
2 dashes orange bitters
4-5 cloves
Cinnamon stick, broken in half
Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake and pour into a glass of your choice. Add ice. Garnish with a broken cinnamon stick from the shaker and a lemon peel. Cheers!

Get the Look

  • White Ring Tadelakt Candle Holder by Chabi Chic Morocco, $55, ouive.com

  • Sabre Bistrot Flatware in Antiqued Finish, $68–$308, food52.com

  • Dried Natural Bunny Tails, $22, bloomist.com

  • Lotka Flower Seed Paper Place Cards by FlowerSeedPaper, Set of 12, $6, etsy.com

  • Bakers Twine Napkin by KD Weave, $30, kdweave.com

  • 18″ Taper Candles, Set Of 6 Pairs, $84, luluandgeorgia.com