A Guide to Designing Your Holiday Tabletop by Lindsey Katalan

Regardless of their genesis, holiday traditions have been altered by each and every one of us through the years to fit the likes and styles of our own family, ultimately resulting into ones very own take on the commercial conception of “the holidays”. But some parts of the traditional elements are simply interminable, and rightfully so. When it comes to tabletop decor, it’s important to balance the new and the old, the traditional and the modern, and general with the personal. Which leads me into the discussion of tablecloths.

I rarely advocate the use of tablecloths. I prefer my tables to be a template for modern twists and rarities, and the idea of a crisp white tablecloth is by definition, not that. Rather, it evokes a feeling of an outdated table that intimidates the young and the messy (read me). However, the holidays are a time for exceptions. It’s the one time when you absolutely can’t hold out on a stark white tablecloth. Traditional for the sake of tradition, if you will.

Select a Statement Charger

The first step in outfitting a white tablecloth is finding a statement charger. It is the foundation on which the tablescape will be built. I recommend using a Mottahedeh red charger with gold trim or something equally as vibrant like this Tulips plate by Jeff Koons. It adheres to the color spectrum of the holiday, but remains useful on other occasions. In other words, it’s a better investment than porcelain with reindeer illustrations.


Never Underestimate the Napkin ring

A napkin ring is the pinnacle of the plate ensemble – the last item you place, and the first item your guests will see. This is the strongest and soundest explanation for investing in a great napkin ring. I suggest matching the color of the ring to at least one other element on the table. Pictured below, the green napkin ring pulls the matching green crystal into a prominent focal point on the table.


Photo: Alexandra Wolf

Pay attention to Serving Platters

One of the most common oversights in tabletop design is paying meticulous attention to the coordination of your place settings and completely ignoring the platters, bowls, and serving paraphernalia that will be taking up the most space on your table. Even the most aesthetically pleasing dinnerware will get lost in the sea of mix-and-matched serving platters. If you are using family style plating for the holidays, coordinate your platter and bowl options well in advance.


Arte italica large bowl for a white winterland motif available here.

Bring back the Candelabra

If you’re choosing to have a plated service (formal dinner), focus your attention on centerpiece decor. Candelabra are timeless. Villeroy & Boch makes contemporary candelabras to combat their inherently antiquated feel. To further the informal approach supplement traditional white wax for neon candlesticks. It’s all the rage, and I’m not just saying that because I am in my twenties.



Villeroy and Boch candelabra available for purchase here.

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