Setting the holiday table, organically

I've never been one for over-the-top, frivolous, frilly decor. I'm of the school of thought where less is more, and simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. When it comes to decorating the table, as well as my own home, I'm a straight shooter - my style is traditional with glimmers of sophistication, a touch of whimsy and bursts of color. A vase of flowers, a bowl brimming with fruit is a simple statement. I love incorporating nature into my home, especially onto my tables. Fruit, flowers, vegetables, branches, berries and nuts all add color and sophistication to the holiday table. Colors may be interchanged or swapped throughout the holiday season. Burgundy, brown, purple, orange and gold lend themselves well for the Thanksgiving table. Swap out the brown add red, green, silver - nature's deep jewel tones enhance any holiday setting. A bowl of clementines, pomegranates, persimmons and pears alone are stunning enough, enhance them with greenery from the garden, pinecones, magnolia leaves or boxwood leaves, assorted branches with berries, bits of evergreen, holly. After the meal has ended, these healthy, edible displays can be enjoyed throughout the week. (For more on incorporating pomegranates into your holiday decor, read here.) 

Decorating tip: Find new uses for what you have

Bring out the silver and the family trophies as they enhance any holiday decor. Place them on the holiday table, side tables, in entryways, in the kitchen, on mantels, for a touch of welcoming comfort and sophistication. Assortments of various pears, oranges, clementines, apples, pomegranates, persimmons will make any home merry and bright. These can be set out now and left out through the holiday season - do be sure to check and replace aging fruit! For more on decorating with oranges for the holidays, see my piece Decorating for the Holidays Naturally: When a simple orange is anything but simple.  

Table setting tip:

Assorted apples and pears add color to this very simple holiday table. A tall candelabra stands as the single centerpiece in a platter filled with fruit. There's both height and dimension at this table, but no one's view is obstructed, something important to remember when setting the holiday table. You want to be able to see those across from you, so as you set the table and create your centerpiece(s) do sit down on a chair ahead of time to see whether you can see the directly across. 


Whether you're on a budget or just budget conscious there's no need to break the bank for your holiday decor. Cinnamon sticks smell wonderful and can be used in so many ways. Bought in bulk or at inexpensive retailers like Trader Joe's, these should be in every holiday home. Cut branches from your backyard or purchase a few greens and you have a simple and festive way to enhance your table setting.  Wrap them together with twine and you have a look that is rustic and natural that can be carried out through the winter months. This is a lovely idea for larger, buffet-style gatherings. 

Recycling Tip:

Don't throw cinnamon sticks away after guests have gone. Gather them together and toss them into the fire place or a large pot of boiling water with orange and apple peels and your home will smell like the holidays. Note: Once you've added the items to the boiling water turn the heat down and check from time to time so that the water levels don't get too low. This is also a great way to add much needed moisture back into the dry winter air. 


Family activity:

Gather the children, nieces, nephews and grands! Here's something that they can help with. Send them outside to gather branches and sticks and have them leave them by the door or place a towel on the kitchen or mudroom floor. I love adding sticks and branches to my decor throughout the home. Add greens, fruit, gold balls, ornaments or flowers for color, texture and personality. One of my favorite things to do is to spray paint branches in white, silver or gold. Older kids will enjoy this too - just be sure to make sure you're doing this in a well ventilated area. 


Using fruit to leave handwritten notes, or as place markers is one of my favorite things to do. For other more permanent (and non disposable items) take a trip to your local HomeGoods, TJMaxx or Marshall's for inexpensive yet personal touches such as votives, copper mugs, personal sized cutting and cheese boards, linens, bowls, platters, baskets, etc. 


Centerpiece Tip: 

Behold the power of a white candle. Arrange pillar candles of varying heights in the middle of the table with assorted greens and fruit - or arrange them on a large platter with greens and fruit.  Substitute a runner instead of a table cloth or place one over a table cloth for additional texture and color. Your "runner" could be as simple as a roll of craft paper, newspaper, organza or tule or several extra wide ribbons. 


Paint it!

#ihavethisthingwithspraypaint! And those who know me well know this to be true! Give pumpkins, acorns, pine cones, branches and so much more a new life with a coat of paint. Silver and gold tones are my favorites this time of year as they give your table and home a lovely sparkle.


C+C... Construction paper and candles are both practical and affordable. Leave a pen next to each place setting for guests to doodle on or write notes. Note... Make sure that flames are not too close to your greenery - we'd hate for your holiday table to go up in smoke!


Mix and Match

If you don't have enough place settings, napkins or pieces of silverware it isn't necessary to run out to the store. If you have assorted dishes or two sets, it's perfectly acceptable to blend the two. I even prefer it. Odds and ends can be found at discount stores, consignment shops and Goodwill. I'm mad about my local Goodwill store! By mixing different styles and textures you're creating a unique work of art on your blank canvas. See the table above - Isn't it lovely? Notice all the elements that pulled together - fruit, flowers,  greenery, and candles.

KISS (Keep it simple stupid!)

Please do not take offense! But there is sublime in simplicity! A simple branch. A simple piece of fruit. A simple note. A simple color scheme. Keep it simple!


Dress your Table in Layers

Colors, textures can all be achieved with the items we already have. A bag of clementines carefully placed at the center of the table and at each place setting. A bright ikat table covering might not immediately come to mind with the subtle and earthy tones and metallic hues. But play around with what you have. Maybe all it takes is for a few pieces of fruit to tie it all together. By pulling together seemingly random items and patterns you've created a magnificent setting. 


Into the woods

Sprigs of green, twine and buffalo plaid suddenly take on a feeling of sophistication when paired with elegant silverware and glassware. 


Set the table with Love

A homemade or baked item such as the mini loaf pictured above not only makes for a wonderful place setting but serves as a special token letting your guests know that you've taken special care to make the meal and the moment particularly special. 

Celebrate the outdoors

If you're lucky enough to live in a climate that allows you to dine en plein air take advantage of it. Have blankets on hand if needed - As the days are now short, you may want to consider your holiday meal as a late lunch and desert later.