Table Ta-Da!

A Crafty Holiday Centerpiece (That Doubles As an Icebreaker for Guests)

Aka, how to bond with strangers—without the awkward silences.

December 21, 2018

Welcome to Table Ta-Da!, where our art director, Alexis Anthony, shares tips and tricks (along with a little fairy dust) to help you create a wow-worthy table, whether you're serving two people or 20. Cue the oohs and ahhs...

What kind of party guest are you? Are you comfortable striking up conversations with any and all people you've just met? Or do you prefer to wait on the sidelines, taking in a room's vibe before chit-chatting with just one new person in your vicinity?

Regardless of your socializing style, during this time of year with all of the hubbub of the holidays, you might find yourselves mingling more—with people you may know well, but also with those you're just meeting for the first time. Party icebreakers, as we know them, can be effective, but they can also be a bit hokey. When our fairy godmother Art Director Alexis Anthony told us about a fun new way to break the ice, we were all ears.

The source? Alexis learned it from her son Oliver's preschool teacher at a parents' gathering. "She had all of us sit around this big branch," Alexis explains. "There were all sorts of ribbons and things, which we tied around the different parts of the branch while we bonded over talk of our kids. It's different, but interactive and keeps your hands busy. It was actually a great way to get to know an entirely new group of people in a short amount of time."

Sparkling conversation, right this way. Photo by Rocky Luten

You don't need a full-fledged craft box (or kids!) to recreate this charming icebreaker at home:

  • Find a big ol' branch: If you have trouble finding one large one, a few smaller ones will also work. Just make sure they are dry and leafless.
  • Gather ribbons and things: If you have a little collection of pretty string and ribbon-ends (just me?), now is a great time to break them out! Outside of yarn-y things, you can go wild with cute little doodads like bells, pom poms, feathers, small note cards, and more.
  • Get criss-crossing: There's truly no right or wrong way to do this. Have everyone pick up a spool and get going.
  • Keep it—or not: Alexis says her son's teacher saved that big branch and hung it up in the classroom for all to enjoy throughout the year. Depending on what your living situation is, you can do the same or encourage people in the untying and unraveling at party's end.

Do you have a favorite icebreaker? Share it with us below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Rachael @EatOrToss
    Rachael @EatOrToss
  • Alan Scott
    Alan Scott
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


Rachael @. January 6, 2019
Love this! We did it at our New Years party. Each ribbon was something to say goodbye to in 2018 or a wish for 2019. Finally, I know why I’ve been hoarding bits of ribbon!
Alan S. December 28, 2018
This isn’t really Food52 worthy! You guys are so much more clever than this!