Decorating Ideas for your Holiday Table

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By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

We are not doing an annual Christmas party this year. We had the last big holiday party, ever last year. And now I’m done.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t in a festive holiday spirit. The tree is decorated, the swag is hung and the wreath is ready for the door. All the decorations we treasure – the nutcrackers collected in Germany, the snow globes, the hand-knit stockings from when the kids were born – are adding joy to our household.

Although we aren’t having a big gathering, Christmas Eve dinner is always a party – a party just for our immediate family – Steve, Dave, Chris who comes home for Christmas from New York City, our daughter-in-law Lynn, nana, and my long-time friend Carol who is like an aunt to our boys.

And while it’s just us, I spend as much time working on the table decorations as I do the menu, looking for something different to delight each year.

I always use red no-iron polyester-cotton napkins for the table. Red is colorful and versatile – I use the same napkins for Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July, too. When dinner is done, they can get thrown in the wash. Of course I like nice, fine linen napkins; but I don’t like the ironing that comes with them.

Each year I decide how much time we want to spend on the cleanup. If not much, we opt for the white everyday china that goes in the dishwasher and dress the place settings with our good crystal. Or we might use good china with stemware that goes in the dishwasher. Sometimes, we go the whole way – china, crystal and silver – if we don’t mind the cleanup.

I love Christmas crackers at each setting. Usually made with foil papers, they add sparkle to the table and are fun to pop and to see what’s inside. This year, I’m going to make my own, following instructions from Martha Stewart Living so I can customize the little toys inside.

Last year Dave and I made gumdrop trees for the big party and used them for table centerpieces for our Christmas Eve dinner. To tie in to the candy theme, I used floating candles that looked like peppermint candy and a garland of “candy” for the tabletop.

Most years, I use a runner of greens along the center of the table. I gather discarded branches from my Christmas tree lot (they give them for free), trim the leafy outer sprigs in about 6-inch lengths and lay them across the center of the table.

Alternatively, I buy a readymade swag from Costco – the fresh, fragrant swags are rolled in a coil and come in different lengths – and set it down the center of the table. If the swag is too long, you can cut to the desired length with wire cutters and scissors and rewire the ends to keep from unraveling.

Once you’ve laid down your runner, intersperse with any of the following or a combination:

  • Pepper berries or holly sprigs
  • Pretty ribbon twirled through the runner
  • Mounds of snowballs made by spraying Styrofoam balls with artificial snow
  • Flowers such as poinsettias or stargazer lilies, stems cut short and inserted into florist’s tubes (they’re like little test tubes with a plastic cap with a hole in the center so you to fill with water). Just tuck the tubes under the greens so they don’t show.
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Tea lights
  • Sugared fruit
  • Apples hollowed out to hold tea lights

Finish with place cards and napkin rings:

In the crafts mood, on Video Friday this week, I’ll show you some ways to use kitchen ingredients and tools to decorate a kitchen-themed Christmas tree.

Best wishes for the happiest of holidays!

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Related posts:

  1. The Last Big Holiday Party, Ever
  2. Some Quick Meals to Survive the Holiday Frenzy
  3. Easy Holiday Tips from the Georgia Governor’s Mansion
  4. Special Fork’s Holiday Gift Guide

Posted: Dec 9th by Sandy_Hu