The perfect holiday celebration needs a few key ingredients: family and loved ones, delicious food, and a really beautiful table. Don’t underestimate the power of a gorgeously put together table; as the NY Times reports, according to restaurateur Danny Meyer “there are three things that people pick up on the instant they walk into your home on Thanksgiving…they will be able to feel the human energy. They’ll smell the food. And they will see, instantly, the table.” Your table sets the tone for the meal and, when it’s done right, images of your perfectly designed table will represent that holiday and family gathering for years to come.
While cooking a holiday meal (and the post-party clean up) can definitely be overwhelming, setting a beautiful table is also a huge source of stress for a lot of hosts. No matter how big your guest list is, make sure you plan ahead of time, and you set your table early. You want guests to arrive and see a table that looks like it could be showcased in a magazine; after all, those photos probably will be displayed in family albums, so make sure they look as special as you want this holiday to feel. Here are a few simple rules to help you achieve a picture-perfect holiday table this season.
1. Start with a Color Palette
Unless you want your table to look like a rainbow threw up on it, pick a color palette and stick to it with all table elements, from the plates to the flowers. That doesn’t mean you need to stick to only one color, but choose colors and hues that are in the same family—think shades of red and orange, or blues and greens etc. Keep it classy and understated; simplicity is key and will make your table look thought-out and perfectly coordinated, not boring, we promise.
2. Pick a Simple Tablecloth
A tablecloth is a must-have for a holiday table. That doesn’t mean you need to use anything grand or formal. A solid cloth is OK, just use what you have and if you decorate the table accordingly, even a basic white table cover can set the stage for a beautiful meal. A tablecloth makes the entire table setting look finished and organized, rather than like a mishmash of every dish you own. Plus, the tablecloth makes the room feel more warm and cozy, exactly the vibe you’re going for at a holiday gathering.
3. Mix and Match Glassware
As long as you know the essential glassware to feature at a table, (one for water, one for red wine and one for white wine) then the hard work is done. Then you get to have a little fun. Feel free to mix and match glasses to add texture, varied height and color to your table. Not only will guests be impressed, but it will also look amazing in photos.
4. Choose Low Flower Arrangements and Candles and Don’t Overdo It
When it comes to decorating a table, less can be more. Massive arrangements might be cool in theory, but they will distract your guests from what really matters—the company and the food. Choose low arrangements that will sit below eye level so guests can see each other and talk. Then mix in some candles to add light and set the mood at your meal. The candlelight is flattering for everyone so your table and your friends will all look gorgeous in the photos.
5. Don’t Forget Details and Traditional Touches
Last but not least, don’t overlook the importance of small details and thoughtful touches. Cloth napkins folded perfectly or wrapped with a napkin ring make a big impact to create a finished look. According to super hostess, Martha Stewart, in an interview with Hamptons.com, “good entertaining is all about that extra touch, that extra effort put forth to dazzle guests.”