At Christmas, Hannukah and New Year’s, many of us who have formal china and crystal bring it out to use, if we enjoy doing that. It’s not a requirement– it’s just a traditional time to use your best. But you can certainly create lovely tables without the formal accessories, and you can find ideas in this tablesetting that you could use in a more casual or fun tablescape.
I have a lot of silver table accessories, so I decided to use those with white items for a dressy look for my dinner party. For greater formality, I would have begun with a white tablecloth, but I liked the contrast that the bare wood of my dining room tabletop provided. I used shiny silver fabric placemats with my silver chargers and white china. I used the silver Chantilly flatware I inherited from my aunt and Cristal D’Arques crystal water goblets.
If you want to purchase some formal china to use during the holidays, almost every department or discount store carries inexpensive sets of plain white dishes or white with a silver or gold band. These dishes will serve you in good stead all year long. Many stainless steel flatware sets are available at reasonable prices to dress up your table. I would recommend picking up crystal at your local thrift store–I see wonderful sets of water and wine glasses and footed bowls at our local Goodwill thrift stores all the time. It is also perfectly acceptable to mix and match your glassware, china and flatware.
I used gray and white polka dot fabric napkins–slightly less formal, but since the dots were tiny, they were not distractingly casual. Paper napkins are also available in many attractive patterns and colors. I rolled the napkins to use on top of the plain white plates for color.
For my napkin rings, I could have used white or silver ribbon and some plain silver rings I have. But instead I used one of my favorites–napkin rings made from a strand of wired pearl Christmas tree garland I bought years ago at K-Mart on the after-Christmas clearance. This beaded pearl garland can be bent into any shape you like, so I cut ten-inch pieces of it and just wound it several times around the napkin for a classy look.
These pearl napkin rings have been used many times, and I still enjoy using them. They are great for Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s, Easter, Mother’s Day and many other special occasions. You may be able to find something similar or in other colors to use with your dish pattern colors.
To create my centerpiece, I began with a silver wooden tray I have. Using a tray as the basis for a centerpiece is a wonderful idea because it defines the space you have to use and it is so simple to remove from the table if you need to. It is also great to use when you want to scatter confetti, fake snow or candy at the base of your centerpiece items–it contains these sprinkles and makes for much easier clean-up.
A clear acrylic or white tray is very versatile to have and would have worked well for this centerpiece. They can be found at home decor or discount stores at very reasonable prices. You can add color to a plain tray by using a placemat or a gift-wrap or scrapbook paper mat in the bottom on the tray.
I then laid some small pearl Christmas tree garland in the bottom of the tray. This garland is not wired and will drape wherever you lay it.
Then, on the tray, I placed three white beaded trees I bought on clearance at CVS Drugs after the holidays one year. When I bought them, I got three, because one by itself was not big enough to have presence on the dining room table. But three work well in the tray. You certainly could elevate one of the trees on a book or another kind of base if you wanted. The trees are about eight inches tall.
Because this centerpiece was for a dinner party, I decided to add two clear-glass candlesticks with white taper candles for light and presence. The candlelight reflected nicely off the silver and beads.
Because I already had the tray, the garland and the candlesticks, the beaded trees, bought for less than five dollars, were my only expense. The beaded trees are also reusable, so they will show up in other centerpieces at another time.
Look at holiday decorations you have at home to see if any you have will work as centerpiece items. Beaded garland is very inexpensive and comes in so many colors and styles that you can use it almost all year long in centerpieces, because it drapes so nicely on the table.
So, whether you are thinking about having a dinner party with a dressier theme or a more casual one, look at your dishes to decide on a color scheme to use. Don’t forget that trays are helpful accessories to use for centerpieces as is beaded Christmas garland. Look through your holiday decorations to see if you have some items that would make an attractive centerpiece, and then go for it! Enjoy!