What’s more welcoming than a festive holiday table? How about one that’s unforgettable, too? Last week, Christa O’Leary, an interior design and green-living expert at Home in Harmony in Hingham, MA, gave us two of her top de-stress decorating tips.
O’Leary is a big party giver, as in 200 people are coming over to her house for a holiday party in about a week. But she gives more intimate holiday dinner parties too. This week, she’s shares her secrets for creating a fabulous table for sit-down holiday dinners. Hint: “The table should be stress-free and memorable,” she says. Here’s what she does to dress up the dining room, which can make guests feel extra special.
Think layers. Remember the holiday color scheme idea we talked about last week? Extend it to your “tablescape” too, so that your dining room color-coordinates with the rest of your house. But don’t just stop at color-scheme-themed tablecloths and napkins. Consider adding placemats, a runner and chargers—those decorative plates that go under the dinner plate that are just for show.
“The more layers you add, the more luxurious your holiday table will feel,” O’Leary says. Feel free to use chargers of different colors (in your color scheme) to make your table even more fun. O’Leary plans ahead and buys chargers for next year when they’re on sale after the holidays. “I love chargers. They add so much to a table,” she says.
Use place cards. To spark conversation, which is key to having fun at any dinner party, O’Leary makes a seating chart and pairs talkative and quiet guests next to each other. “Place cards are a great way to manage the table, put people at ease and help the conversation flow,” O’Leary says. The holders can also serve as party favors. Ideas: A mini picture frame, a holiday ornament with the person’s name in glitter glue, or a tiny topiary with a guest’s names on a stick that’s stuck in the soil.
To enjoy her own party, O’Leary plans everything down to the last detail. “I lay out all my serving dishes and utensils and label them so I know which bowl is designated for which food and which utensil I’ll use to serve it,” she says. As a result, during the party, she’s not running around looking for serving spoons and bowls. “A certain amount of staging can really help make hosting a party less stressful,” she says.
How about you? Do you have any party pointers you’d like to share? What do you do to make your holiday shindigs fun and less stressful?