PHOTOS BY STEVE SMITH, VISIONFIRE STUDIOS

Mix and Match your way to a joyful Christmas table

Beneath those silent snow-covered rooflines and smoking chimney tops, the hustle and bustle of this magical Christmas season is in full swing – halls are being decked, trees being trimmed, lists are being checked twice, and traditions of generations past are being celebrated.
Take a moment, right here and now, to think about the highlight of your
holiday season.
That moment you envision and look forward to as you realize the crisp chill in the air has turned to piercing and it’s time to freeze or be jolly.
Is it those wee early hours of the 25th day when scampering feet and excited whispers discover the tree all a glow surrounded by packages? Or perhaps it’s the family bundle, going out into a winter wonderland holding hands and soaking in the snow-globe affect? Steaming coffee by a crackling fire in Grams handcrafted wool socks from last year’s exchange? Maybe the smells? They get me, too. Oh, or what about the making of the hand-strung popcorn garland with Bing Crosby’s Christmas Classics playing?
For me, it’s the moments that come after the climactic gift exchange is complete and everyone is still. The love and gratitude weighs heavy in the air as everyone soaks in their blessings. Not for the things but the people behind them. And for that rare moment, or into hours if so lucky, life isn’t rushed or busy
or pressing.
It is during that golden time that the season’s traditional act of giving extends into the kitchen, where often a delicious gift is prepared. As host, this rare opportunity and gift of time is not to be taken lightly. Rather, I implore you to harness the emotion of the season and funnel it into a tablescape representative of your feelings towards those celebrating around you. Maximizing an opportunity to pull your guests into your heart, captivating the moment and facilitating a setting that is the foundation of fond memories for years to come.

No chandelier? No problem. Bring your centrepiece to new heights this holiday.

A few tips to assist in setting the scene. My gift to you.

Celebrate Tradition

There is a beauty and honour to respecting and celebrating the generations that came before. Opting to incorporate inherited or borrowed family items into a setting, like china sets or polished silverware, can add visual interest and depth. While possibly also scoring a few Brownie points with a cranky aunt – there is one in every family – is always a bonus.

Blend that Tradition with New/You

Don’t feel restricted to that one vintage setting in tribute to tradition. Rather, use this as inspiration and opportunity to incorporate your style to the mix. Blending new pieces you love with the vintage allows for a creative and inclusive tablescape representative of everyone with a seat at the table. With the bonus of creating a gathered look that is unique to you; hostess with the mostest.

Get Creative

Since we are already taking risks by blending tableware, this is the perfect opportunity to get creative with patterns and finishes taking the experience to the next level with each detail. Mixing fabrics – with the napkins, table runner, chair covers, etc. – allows you to create interest and warmth that pulls your guests in and likely will have them wanting to stay put well past when the dessert dishes have been cleared. Florals and centrepieces can be re-imagined to anything that suits your family’s style and budget – whether that is fresh stems in your colour pallet, gathered branches from outside that add a sculptural element, or a simple garland surrounded by pinecones or seasonal bounty. Go ahead and rethink the application, too – suspend your centrepiece above the table for an unexpected twist which also allows for more space on the table itself for additional decor or the roast-beast.

Get Personal

Gift giving is deeply rooted in this season so why not incorporate it in the dining experience. Personalized gifts don’t have to be costly, in fact just the opposite, sometimes the best gifts of all are free: A personalized place setting could be a homemade ornament for your guest to take as a keepsake. Or a simple handwritten note recording a special quality or achievement from the past year. A family photo depicting a special moment shared.

Kids’ Table

Don’t forget, the little ones deserve an elevated dining experience just as well as the adults. Glass plates are worth a try in a themed festive pattern paired with fun fabric napkins. Just be sure to keep them entertained: Cover their table with brown paper and provide colouring pencils so they can create their own festive tablecloth. Provide Lego patterns of festive items that they can recreate.
Or propose a napkin folding challenge to get their creativity flowing.

Have fun

A party isn’t a party until someone is on the table. Right? Oh wait, that may just be my clan. But it should be safe to say that incorporating games is added fun to any get together and the recipe for life-long memories. A simple lucky plate or glass is always exciting. But once the table has been cleared of anything breakable bring out the board games, start the Santa Limbo, or exchange the yankee swap.
No matter how you celebrate, Charlie Brown said it well when he stated; “It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters but who’s around it.” That could not be more true, unless instead it referenced the dinner table.