A festive table setting can add to Christmas dinner.

A festive table setting can add to Christmas dinner.

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Dining décor can brighten your festive feast

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published December 22, 2021


METRO DETROIT — You’re hosting Christmas Eve dinner, your extended family is coming over and you want everything to be flawless — but there is one detail you’re debating. 

Should the table setting be casual with matching paper plates and napkins, or should it be a formal affair with your best dishes?

For anyone who could use some help in planning a festive table setting for Christmas dinner, Holly Anselmi, owner of the gift store Italian Dish in Birmingham, offers several suggestions. To get started, decide either on a formal look or a casual theme.

“You would use a tablecloth for a more formal look,” Anselmi said. But if a more laid-back style is on the menu, placemats are recommended instead. If the tablecloth has a pattern, it’s best to use solid-colored dishes and napkins so the table doesn’t clash or look too busy. 

Selecting a color scheme can also set a cozy, holiday feel for the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day meal.

“Color always changes things depending on the colors you choose. Bright colors, red and green, are for the holidays,” Anselmi said. 

But there are other options. 

“Blues are relaxing and cooling. Blue is very popular right now,” Anselmi said. “Warm colors, neutrals, ivory, creams, browns are for a more casual style. White is always popular. Black and gray dinnerware also is becoming a trend.”

Dinner hosts unsure of what to add as a decoration can look no further than their own backyard. Anselmi suggested picking some evergreen pieces to place on the table. Another idea could be adding a bowl of Christmas tree ornaments for decor on the dining room table. 

Reminder: don’t wait until the last minute to begin setting up your table.

“Start working on it ahead of time to get your basics down,” Anselmi advised.

Floral designer Kay Kiekbusch, the lead instructor in floral design at Macomb Community College, offered this important tip. 

“Don’t try to jam everyone at the same table,” she said. “If you’re having a lot of people, it’s very difficult to have a formal dinner.” Therefore, going casual would be the best choice, in that scenario. 

Kiekbusch also mentioned that using a charger plate for each setting can go a long way, and they can be found at your local dollar store. Chargers are placed underneath the dinner plate and add a visual effect. The charger is not intended to come in contact with any food.

“They can add color to the table. They’re inexpensive,” Kiekbusch said. “They really add a nice elegant touch, if that’s what you’re going for. You can use the dinnerware you have and still make it look festive. Anything that’s eye-appealing makes you happy to be there. Just adding those little touches makes you festive. It puts you in the spirit.”

Kiekbusch agreed with Anselmi about adding greenery to the table setting.

“It’s very simple and easy to do,” Kiekbusch said. “It smells wonderful for a dinner party or buffet, and you could tuck a few ornaments into it.”

Adding flowers also can dress up any table setting. According to Kiekbusch, red is the most popular color at Christmastime.

“Gold and silver are very popular, too,” she said. There was a time in which it was taboo to put those two metals together, but not anymore.

A festive centerpiece can add spice to any table. But if there is not enough room on the table, why not style it with a few 4-inch poinsettia plants? 

“You can run them down the table,” Kiekbusch said. “They look adorable with just a little bit of color here and there. If you have something in the center of your table, make sure your guest can see over the top of it and it doesn’t block one guest from another.”

Once the excitement of Christmas is over, it’s time to plan for New Year’s Eve. Gayle McNally, owner of Interior Design and Let’s Be Seated in Pittsfield Township, near Ann Arbor, recommends using a sparkling, silver tablecloth for your New Year’s Eve cocktail party. 

“They usually have matching napkins to go with it. Some people use tablecloths; some people don’t,” said McNally, who has given several interior design presentations at the Novi Home Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Goblets on New Year’s Eve can get the party started. Votive candles on the table also can add to the evening.

“It creates ambiance. You’re creating light. It makes people feel happy. You’re celebrating the new year with friends and family. You’re creating happiness and joy,” McNally said. “I would want a little elegance on the table. Put on some music. It puts people in a good mood. Maybe have a small table on the side for hors d’oeuvres so you don’t mess up your table.”

Putting out place cards for guests can be an option.

“If you feel you need it and want to keep the conversation going,” McNally said. “Some people don’t want to think and say, ‘Where am I going to sit?’”

And if you’re going to use a centerpiece, oval looks best on a rectangular table, while round is really meant for a round dinner table. 

“If you want something soft and elegant, use the off-whites. Red for if you want to create a little bit of warmth,” McNally said. “Red looks fabulous around food. If you want to feel sassy and festive, go for the highest contrast (of colors).”