An Herbaceous Holiday Tablescape That Smells as Good as It Looks

What will our tables look like this year? Florist Kristen Caissie has some aromatic (and stress-free!) ideas.

November 13, 2020
Photo by Florals and design: Kristen Caissie; stylist: Kate Hold

With the holidays looking so different this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about what our tables will look like. As a professional florist, I’ve always loved setting tables—whatever the size of gathering—and the intention behind it seems more important than ever: to create a sense of comfort, care, and beauty for the ones we love.

Which is why holiday tables are my favorite. Late fall and winter present us with the opportunity to go inward, hold what is dear to us close, and celebrate the year that’s passed (even if that’s a little harder to do this year). It’s also a nod to the season; I like my holiday table to create a personal connection to nature and all that winter has to offer.

With this mind, as well as the smaller scale of this year’s holidays, I have pulled together two table settings using just aromatic herbs—along with candles and tableware you already have. If herbs are not easily available to you, any winter or fall foliage can do the trick. Take a walk in your neighborhood—or even just your backyard—and you may be surprised how inspired you get! If all else fails, your local florist, who most likely could use your support right now, is also equipped to compose these styles for you, or provide you with the materials you need to create them yourself.

An Herbal “Garland” Centerpiece

Photo by kristen caissie, MoonCanyon

The first tablescape is my take on an herbal garland centerpiece (pssst: it's much simpler!). I’ve used herbs like rosemary, bay laurel, olive, and sage, as well as preserved oak leaf from my yard (and some from the craft shop). You’ll need enough herbs and leaves to make the bundles, a set of clippers, and wire or twine to tie the ends.

  1. Start by layering your foliage and herbs together to create several wild bouquet-like bundles. These can be anywhere from 5” to 10” long, depending on your desired look.
  2. Wrap the ends with wire or twine, tying it tightly enough for the stems to hold together nicely. Cut the stems short so they’re not seen
  3. Place them lengthwise down your table (while overlapping slightly at angles) to mimic a garland, styled with candles or food platters.
Photo by kristen caissie, MoonCanyon

Insider Tip: You can style the bundles with the stem ends against a candle or under a platter to help disguise them. You can also make smaller bundles of herbs, tied off with wire or twine, and place them next to the candles—or simply place a few scattered leaves over the stems—to hide the mechanics.

I love this style of garland because these bundles can later be dried and used to add their scent to other areas of your home. Also, if you are serving your guests family-style instead of plated, this style of garland serves to create space for platters to be placed between the bundles.

Decorated Pillar Candles

Another warm and cozy way to decorate the table with herbs is by adding them around pillar candles. Here's how you do it:

Photo by kristen caissie, MoonCanyon
  1. Gather your herbs and preserved leaves, and this time, source some beautiful ribbon that matches your holiday decor and color story.
  2. Trim the stems to fit the height of your candles.
  3. Tie your ribbon a little loosely around the pillar candle, and tuck in your foliage and florals under the ribbon.
  4. Make sure to go all the way around your candle so there are no gaps. This should fill out the slack of the ribbon. If it doesn't, untie the bow and pull the ribbon so it tightens around the plant materials, and then re-tie it.
Photo by kristen caissie, MoonCanyon

Insider Tip: If you’re feeling nervous about having foliage too close to the flame, you can use a glass hurricane and wrap herbs around that instead. Scatter these wrapped candles around the house to add an aromatic holiday feel throughout.

I also love personal herb napkin treatments as a little keepsake for your guests to remember this gathering by. Ultimately, there is no wrong way to do this: bringing nature indoors and celebrating the season can be a beautiful intention for your small but meaningful gathering.

Florals and design by Kristen Caissie of Moon Canyon Design; styled by Kate Hold of The Ark

Which of these tablescapes are you going to try this year? Let us know in the comments!
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Written by: mooncanyon

1 Comment

Pat C. November 14, 2020
I like the round candle and the plate it is on but do not see this anywhere.