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5 Tips to Set a Festive Holiday Table

Season’s Eatings! Food, fellowship and fun are all-encompassing parts of holiday festivities.  The holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to do something special for your family and friends and where better place to start than at your table? Once a year holiday dishes, special dessert treats and an open-door policy with visiting guests creates an atmosphere ripe with opportunity to share a meal with those we love. Many of our best memories are made around a holiday table, so whether you create the same scene or a new theme year after year, gatherings around the table with the ones you care about are the best kind of gifts!
Here are 5 Tips to Set a Festive Holiday Table that your guests will remember long after the holiday season has ended:

  1. Consider your holiday theme and company first.The colors, styles and accessories you’ll use are important. Do you decorate with traditional green and red or cool blues and silvers? Is it modern, vintage or a mix of styles? Will the table be child-centric or adults only? Why not create two tables? Pull from the décor style you created for your seasonal home and a holiday table will just be an extension of that.
  2. Choose a table cover.Tablecloths, runners and place mats can be used together or individually depending on your tastes. I find it important to use something as a protective layer for your table when dining with a crowd, especially for hot and cold plates and the occasional spill.  For this table I used two $2 burlap coffee sacks as a runner found at 1st Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX. Insider tip; go to the very back lots where the open-air vendors are and you’ll find the best prices! The burlap sacks were layered and secured straight across the table with a wide green and red button felt ribbon bought at Holiday Warehouse.  I used small tacks underneath the table to secure the ribbon in place. The place mats are simply pages removed from an old music book found at a local thrift shop. Three music sheets were taped together to create a unique and fun place mat!


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  3. Select a centerpiece.Long and low usually works best for conversation with seated guests. Think outside of the usual vase when considering the container for the centerpiece.  I used a vintage chicken feeder for my table and built the bottom up with pine cone. I added layers of fresh and faux greenery, antler sheds and ornaments to the mix.  You can always add classic tea lights in glass containers around your centerpieces. You could also use this type of container for food serving like rolls or biscuits. Just line the inside of the container with wax paper and cloth napkins first.

    For a kid’s table consider a craft container like a long basket or Mexican sugar mold filled with crayons or stickers to keep them busy and entertained while seated. Butcher paper is a fabulous tablecloth for kids and they can draw, color and spill to their hearts’ content on it.

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  4. Place your settings on the table or keep dishes handy near the buffet.For a smaller gathering I like to set the table. I’ve collected milk glass pieces over the years and they’re not only beautiful they’re multi-season friendly and almost indestructible. You can easily find very inexpensive dishes like these at thrift and secondhand stores. Setting a table makes the occasion feel a bit more special and traditional, especially in our fast-paced world when families often are too busy to have a sit-down meal every day.

    Pieces need not match either. Perhaps you have a favorite plate you were gifted by a friend, a cup that your grandmother used for her tea, silverware you had as a child etc. Whatever makes it special and memorable to you and your family should be at the heart of it. If you’re using items with special meaning, share the stories with children and guests so they can also carry and share the memory for themselves.

  5. Make the setting special.Use ornaments, notes or small gifts set on the plates for your guests.  These could double as place markers with the names of guests or small trinkets they can take away as a memento of the occasion.
Karen Otto
Karen Otto’s love for all things “home” started when she was young and would rearrange her parent’s furniture when she got bored. She later found her niche in marketing and earned her degree at Florida International University in Miami, FL. In 2006 she cultivated her passion for “all things home and marketing” and channeled that energy into her company Home Star Staging, in Plano, TX. In that same year Karen earned her Accredited Staging Professional designation and is currently a RESA-Pro stager. In 2009 Karen became the Charter President of the RESA-Dallas Chapter, served as the 2011-12 RESA-Texas State President and 2013 -14 RESA’s Regional Vice President and is currently a RESA National Board Member.

Karen’s passion has always been helping people and that translates whether working with clients, colleagues or peers within the industry. In 2008 her love for teaching and her expertise in home staging culminated in a Workforce Development Course she created for North Texas home sellers offered through Collin College in Plano, TX. The course is designed to help anyone understand the value and importance of staging a home for selling in any market. Karen believes an educated consumer is her best client.

An avid social networker, blogger, writer and speaker, Karen is a nationally recognized expert in the staging industry and is passionately committed to educating others about the power and benefits of home staging. Karen’s work, commentary, and writing has appeared on; HGTV’s “My First Sale”, FOX 4 Good Day Dallas!, the Dallas Morning News, North Dallas Gazette, “Do Your Own Home Staging” by Tina Parker, “Ready 2 Sell in 30 Days” by Karen Bernetti and Ann Anderson along with blog spots, Ezines and online publications around the globe. Karen envisions herself as part of a contingent of home stagers around the country who are leading the way to make home staging an industry standard for every residential real estate transaction.

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