Setting the Holiday Table

From gold and roses to green and organic, two Dallas design teams create beautiful winter tabletops with ideas you can use.

SETTING THE HOLIDAY TABLE

 

WRITTEN AND PRODUCED BY DIANE CARROLL  PHOTOGRAPHY BY COLLEEN DUFFLEY

 

TWO DALLAS DESIGN TEAMS SHARE SIMPLE IDEAS FOR BEAUTIFUL WINTER TABELTOPS.

 

Simple things give us pleasure. A twig with an interesting shape. Paper snowflakes. A rose petal. Lots of rose petals! And the best gift to give this year is the simple pleasure of being together. We asked Kim Schlegel of RSVP/Soiree and Todd Fiscus and Raegan McKinney of Two Design Group to create tabletops with lots of ideas D Home readers could use for entertaining friends and family over the months ahead. The rules: all of the materials had to be readily available. Nothing too contrived. Using natural elements, they created two very different, gorgeous tables.   

 

rsvp/soiree

 

Napkin Packages
Spread out a napkin and fold in all four sides to whatever size “package” best fits your place setting. Run a hot iron over the edges to hold it in place. Tie a ribbon package-style around the napkin, ending with a knot. A ribbon with a wired edge will keep the napkin in place and give the ribbon ends some shape. Tuck a rose into the ribbon tie. Keep knot and tie loose enough that guests can undo them to use the napkin.
—Kimberly Schlegel, RSVP/Soiree
Creating Petal Boxes
Select roses in your favorite colors, and keep them fresh in water until they have fully opened. Once they reach their peak, pick out the ones you would like to use to cover the boxes. Large, open roses will cover the most surface area. In general, six roses will cover one 5-inch square box. Choose the boxes that you would like to cover, making sure that all sizes will fit on the table. Boxes that are 4 inches or larger are the easiest to cover, as several petals can fit on each side. Wrap or paint the box in a color to match the rose petals you’ll be using. Petals shrink after being applied to the box, and this ensures that you won’t notice white or brown underneath. Apply spray adhesive to one side of the wrapped or painted box. (Make sure to do this outside or with all work surfaces covered.) Wait one minute for the adhesive to get tacky and to come to room temperature (cold adhesive will burn the rose petals). Repeat with the remaining sides. Add the rose petals to all sides of the box, making sure to overlap petal edges to allow for shrinkage. Keep the corners square to make sure it still looks like a box. Pick a ribbon and loosely tie a bow on the box. Boxes will last one to two days. For a longer lasting package, try dried leaves in an assortment of fall colors. For tiny packages, dried lavender works well. —Junior Villanueva, The Garden Gate
Petal Votive Candle Holders
Place a small glass votive holder with a candle inside into a 4-inch glass
bubble bowl. Both items are available at craft stores or discount department stores. Add loose rose petals (from large, open roses, as in the Petal Box instructions) in between the bubble bowl and the votive holder. Use just one or two layers of petals, so that the candlelight can shine through.  Gently fill the rose petal area with water. Make sure no petals extend above the top of the votive holder so that they don’t scorch or burn. Petals typically last for one use.
—Junior Villanueva, The Garden Gate

 

Floral Bouquets for Draped Tabletops
Cluster a bouquet of flowers together, using a variety of colors and sizes to suit your taste. Bind them together with floral tape, which can be purchased at craft stores, discount department stores, or through a florist. Gather up the draped tablecloth and pin on one yard of ribbon. Pin the ribbon at the midpoint to ensure that the bow will be equal on both sides. Use large corsage pins, which are available at the same places as floral tape. Pin the bouquet onto the ribbon and into the draped tablecloth. Tie the ribbon into a bow around the bouquet. —Junior Villanueva, The Garden Gate

 

 

holiday entertaining tips
from Kimberly Schlegel of RSVP/Soiree

• Plan what you would like your table to look like well in advance, but be flexible. Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts and be inspired while setting the table the day of the event. Things may just fall into place as you are setting up. This is the best way to ensure that your own tastes and interests are reflected in your setting.

• Once your table is set up but before the guests arrive, sit down for a moment at each seat at the table and observe it the way your guests will. Be sure that guests can see each other across the table and that everything is arranged in a beautiful manner. Also, be sure each person has plenty of elbow room and will not feel crowded.

• Lighting is the most important element of entertaining. Guests will be more comfortable if they feel that they are in a warm, flattering light. This can be achieved by dimmed overhead lights, small lamps on the outskirts of the room with deep, warm-colored shades, or by candlelight. The rose petals in the votives shown here have this warm glow.

• Your holiday table need not be red and green. We used pink, orange, red, and lime green as a cheerful, fresh variation.

• Renting items for your holiday table can alleviate a great deal of stress in this hectic time of year. Event rental companies will
deliver clean linens, china, flatware, and crystal, and then pick them up dirty so that you don’t need to worry about cleaning up.

• Place cards ensure that guests feel special and will prevent any confusion when it comes time to sit down.

 

 

two design group

 

Napkin Rings
Roll up birch bark and glue the ends together. Glue an elder cone (available at craft stores) onto the closure. Extra art papers from the snowflakes could be used in place of the birch bark.
Rosemary Wreaths in Birch Bark Pots with Nut Trays

Any kind of tray with a flat bottom and an edge on all four sides can be used. These trays are woven, adding to the texture of the table. Pier One Imports or discount department stores are good sources.  Purchase rosemary wreaths from a garden store, insert wreaths (in original plastic pot) into a larger container (straight-sided glass vases were used here). Using craft glue, adhere birch bark to the larger containers. Cover the exposed soil in the pot with moss (also available at local garden stores). As an alternative to the bark and moss, you could use art papers to cover the pots and a different variety of nut to cover the soil. Place the rosemary wreath pots in the trays and fill the trays with enough hazelnuts to pack down into one layer. For added glow, place votive candles around the outer rim of the trays.

Place card Holders
Clean and make a diagonal cut into a narcissus bulb (available at garden stores) to create a nature-inspired place card holder.
Chair Decorations

Cut evergreen branches and weave them into slatted seat backs for an extra holiday touch. Juniper branches were used here, but holly or pine branches would work equally well.

Paper Snowflakes and Birch Branch Mobile
Gather an assortment of branches and twigs and weave them into a chandelier or tie them together with fishing line to suspend from the ceiling. Birch branches from a florist were used here, but branches from your backyard or a local park would work equally well. Choose an assortment of papers that you’d like to use for snowflakes and table decorations. These are art papers from Paper Routes (404 Exposition Ave., 214-828-9494) and were cut from large sheets. Craft stores and stationary stores would be other options. For added sparkle, paint the papers in a random pattern with gold-leaf paint, available from Asel Art Supply (2701 Cedar Springs Rd., 214-871-2425) or local craft stores. Cut a variety of paper sizes, fold the paper into fourths, and cut whatever snowflake patterns you like (or get the kids to help). Unfold and iron the snowflake under a dishtowel at a low setting to remove the creases. Tie your choice of ribbon, string, or twine (brown grosgrain ribbon was used here) to the snowflakes and tie them to the branches at a variety of lengths.

 

 

holiday entertaining tips
from todd fiscus of two design group

• This setting is designed as an informal holiday gathering, with friends invited over for a casual dinner. Everyone’s idea of entertaining is different, but just because it’s holiday season doesn’t mean that it has to be formal, with everyone dressed up and an elaborate table.

• Take your cues on holiday décor from the style of your home. This table would look out of place in the formal dining room of an Italian-style house. But it might look great on the terrace of that house. Or it would work in the dining room of a more casual cottage-style home.

• Don’t feel that you have to entertain in the dining room. Pick a more casual location, even outside. December evenings can be beautiful. Tell your guests to wear sweaters or drape a blanket over each chair so they can wrap up. Light a fire in a chiminea, serve a great stew and a warm apple crisp, and enjoy the season.

• Above all, keep it simple unless you want to hire a staff. Don’t plan elaborate décor or meals that are too difficult to do yourself. Hire a staff if you want to have a large party. In general, if you are serving more than eight people and more than two courses, I’d suggest hiring a waiter or you’ll end up in the kitchen the entire time.

• If you don’t use fresh flowers, your décor can remain in place longer. On this table, the design elements could stay on your tabletop or be worked into other parts of your holiday décor for the entire season.

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