A few weeks ago, we kicked off the holiday season with a sparkling dinner at my house, both to celebrate the festivities to come. and welcome my friend Tieghan (of Half Cooked Harvest) during his visit to Austin. She and I cooked dinner for a few of our favorite women, and as we gathered around the table, I remembered why I love intimate dinners at home more than anything. Hosting parties like these is one of my biggest passions in life, and there’s no doubt that food is a powerful tool for bonding deeper. We will share each. Single. detail tomorrow including all the recipes (you will die for Tieghan’s vodka pasta), our holidays reading list for dinner, and much more, but first: how I set our festive dinner table. Scroll on for all the gorgeous Christmas greenery and table ideas, plus shopping sources for everything I’ve used.
Kiss him hygge
Usually my inspiration for a table top starts with just one element, and this one is no exception: the sculptural branches – both lush and wintry twigs – that we used on my fireplace created a Scandinavian woody vibe, especially against a minimalist background of neutrals. Lush textiles and sparkling candles made the table feel like it was its own cozy little world, and my goal was to capture that. warm sense of hygge throughout the festive space.
Create a canvas
Although most of the year I embrace the natural look of our unfinished teak dining table, I dressed it up for our cozy dinner by draping it with an oversized white linen tablecloth. Its simplicity and crumpled linen texture added to the Scandinavian feel, especially when topped with natural evergreen runners and pomegranates low enough not to interfere with dinner time conversation.
Go for the greens
My friend Elle Worsham owns graceful garlands, and her team created the most beautiful evergreen swag and centerpiece that made this table incredibly special. When planning this design, we both knew we wanted something that was easy to move throughout the holiday season and that wouldn’t block the flow of conversation across the table. These swags are the perfect balance between simple and special and are simply adorned with pomegranates and candles.
For simple everyday dinners, I only keep the treats on the table, but for the party, we upped the look with a floral centerpiece that Worsham created in a vintage glass compote dish. Bare twig-like branches added to the sculptural silhouette.
Once I had laid the groundwork with my white linen tablecloth and evergreen table runner, I was ready to light up the sparkling candle light that makes every dinner setup special. Of all the table decorating ideas for the holidays and Christmas here, candle light is the fastest and most affordable way to give any gathering a magical glow.
I started with these big conical metal brackets that I’ve been holding for a little while. When I add large sculptural elements to the table, I like to keep things a bit asymmetrical, so I staggered two candlesticks on one side and a single stick on the other side. Then, to add even more flickering light, I hid a few votives between the greenery.
A place for everyone
Taking a few minutes to handwrite simple place cards is one of my party table decorating ideas that goes a long way, but really couldn’t be easier. We cut pieces of watercolor paper the size of a business card and then I used this brush pen to write the name of each guest in cursive. Don’t worry about the perfect calligraphy – the imperfect nature of these cards is what makes them personal and special.
To enhance these simple table cards, I wrapped a few sprigs of greenery and cinnamon sticks with thick twine, tied the ends, and placed a beautifully scented bundle in each spot. While I usually take a more laid-back approach when setting the table, the holidays are a fun opportunity to take things a little higher with the seating allocation. And especially at a dinner party where everyone doesn’t know each other, I find people like to know where to sit.
Raise a glass
For this table, I mainly used dishes that I already had in my collection, but I savored the opportunity to have fun my new wine glasses. I was instantly drawn to the delicate stem and refined silhouette of these glasses, and the set of 4 is a great price, which means when I inevitably break a couple it’s no big deal to order some replacements. Although I ordered both red and white, I prefer to put the more delicate white wine glass in each person’s place and have the red glasses wait behind the scenes with my bar setup.
Choose your palette
Incorporating table decorating ideas for the holiday season and Christmas doesn’t mean you have to stick with a palette of red and green. In fact, I limited mine to shades of white, burlap, evergreen, silver, and gold, which allowed me to play with textures and shapes while avoiding the Overall appearance doesn’t feel busy or overly thematic. White plates with a special sculpted edge, linen napkins and teak cutlery are versatile pieces that I can use all year round.
Feast your eyes
Before the guests arrived, I laid out a very simple cheese board that served both as a table setting. Rather than a huge pasture board, I used a little restraint and created a “still life” of stilton, triple cream brie and quivering goat cheese with truffle. I filled in the holes with a bunch of grapes and a few fresh figs, then added a few small wooden bowls filled with gluten-free almonds, flatbread, and crackers. As usual, I cut and crumbled the ends of the cheese to keep it from looking too perfect and to encourage guests to dig in.