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3 Dazzling Holiday Tabletops that Don’t Require Folding a Napkin into a Turkey

Lights. Dishes. Action.

November 13, 2018
Places, everyone.

I’ll bet you the vast expanse of my great grandma’s holiday salt-and-pepper shaker collection that somewhere along the line you picked up one or two table-setting rules. Maybe you even read a rule book telling you wrinkly linen is a crime and gravy boats should match the butter crockery and candlesticks should always be the same height (tips hat reverently to those of you who’ve mastered this). But sometimes—with tiny people underfoot and bigger ones peering over your shoulder as you try to whisk cornstarch into drippings—it’s just nice to know the table’s ready. And not only ready, but welcoming. And pretty. And practical, too. Does that seem like a tall order? If so, read on because we’ve got some ideas up ahead. And more importantly, consider this a friendly reminder that you, dear friend, are the master of your hard-won meal’s mise en place.

So whether you’re feeling a down-to-earth vibe but want to bring out a few cherished dishes, or you’ve decided to go with something a bit more minimalist, here are three show-stopping (and foolproof) tablescapes that’ll ensure the most important things stay front and center: food, friends, family (and wishbone pulling—don’t forget that).


Feeling anything but neutral 'bout these dreamy shades of white. Photo by Bobby Lin

Whether you live in a little house on the prairie, or smack dab in the big city, these dreamy neutrals, warm wood tones, and just a titch of enamelware say “welcome old friend—come on and draw up a chair” to everyone on the guest list. Go tablecloth-free or start with some linen, like this Kiss That Frog runner, layer up the Farmhouse Pottery dinnerware for that handmade touch, let this one-of-a-kind vintage silver sidle on up alongside, and then—well, go hog-wild as they say. A ceramic vase and dried floral arrangement (yep, all in one) takes care of the centerpiece. And for a rural tablescape glow, bring in these hand-turned candlesticks if you please.

A Handmade Kind of Modern

Nothing like a clean-cut table, we say. Photo by Linda Xiao

For the here-and-now host, these bright and shiny place settings are ready to give the holiday table a little nudge forward. Grab a stack of these Hawkins New York linen napkins for some textural play (no need to break out the iron), and set them atop these shapely paper placemats. Add these Julie Hadley dishes in clean shades of black and white (go monochrome or mix-and-match to your modern heart’s content). If things are looking a littleTim Burton-esque at this point, we say, get metallic! You’ll be hard-pressed to find a crudite that won’t shine a little extra on these trays. Oh, and we’re kinda partial to candlesticks that glow before we’ve even added a flame. (But of course, if you love that slightly-gothic vibe, we say, go for it with gusto.)

A Vintage Extravaganza

A true brass act, this one.

We went treasure hunting across Europe and beyond to bring you this lineup of luxe, old-school linens (like these quaint monogrammed beauts), some French bowls that’ll liven up to your great Aunt’s famed soup recipe, and gobs of perfectly patina’d pewter ready to get passed round the table by eager hands. Don’t forget to add a KAF Home basket for hot-out-of-the-oven rolls—or a charming centerpiece filled with mini pumpkins and gourds. Now for a little Sidney Bechet to set the mood.

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Hopefully this is just the beginning of the easiest-breeziest, you-est holiday ever—one that’s welcoming and bright and keeps the plates passing from start to finish (and we hope the “finish” involves pie).

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Maggie Slover

Written by: Maggie Slover