Dish it up for the Holidays


I think one of the greatest gifts you can give others is to invite them into your home, to share a meal and time together, gathered around the table, swapping stories, having a laugh, making memories. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m so gaga about dishes. They aren’t just a vessel to hold magnificent food. They help set the scene for memory making, one wonderful evening at a time.


There is no better time than the holiday season, with its many feasting occasions, to have fun and get creative in setting your table for guests. Here is a quick look at some of my favorite table settings from my book O Christmas Tree…



The holidays are the time to be irrepressibly romantic, tossing aside practicality in favor of a little razzle-dazzle. This holiday table does that in spades. A Tole tray sets the stage for indulgent gold-rimmed china and etched stemware, lined in gold. Instead of filling the glass compote with salad or soup, we used it as a sweet vase, filled with fresh flowers. The bone handled appetizer knife and fork, and the sheer napkin tied up with a satin ribbon, promise that this meal is going to be an experience to savor.



Black and white is a great base for a table, no matter what time of year. For this holiday table, we used this classic color combo to create a striking yet simple setting. Our base is a splashy sliver serving tray, used as a charger. The limited edition set of dishes was custom made for Nell Hill’s, using 18th century French fabric as inspiration. While no longer available, this dish set shows what you can do when you mix together dishes with a similar palette and feel, but unique edge treatments. They make an ordinary place setting more interesting.



If my house was on fire and I could only save a few of my things, I think my transferware dishes would be among them. I’ve love this traditional English pattern for decades. They fit for every season and can be easily dressed up or down just by switching out the other elements in your table setting. We made this place setting a bit more casual by starting with a wicker tray, used as a charger. The handles made a perfect place to tuck in a napkin.



If you only have room for one set of dishes in your home, I recommend something simple in white. Like blank canvasses, white dishes allow you to go any direction you desire when you dress your table. Try them with some of this season’s hottest colors, like spearmint green and burgundy. If you want something more serene, turn your table into a snowy white landscape by layering your white dishes with white linens and serving pieces. We added just a jot of color to our table here by putting a juicy apple on top, the perfect spot for a place card holder.



When you have dishes this lovely, everything else on the table needs to play second fiddle. This pattern, called Fruit Basket, is ironware made in England. This classic arrangement allows the lovely table below to shine. Our centerpiece of cranberry filled lanterns provides a nice contrast to the blue in the dishes.



Sparkling silver and gold are the colors of the holidays, so why not mix them together on your holiday table? This ornate silver tray sets the stage for a divine set of china, creamy white with gold leaf edges. Here’s a fun idea when entertaining family or good friends: Create a keepsake by framing a small photo of each guest, then resting it at their place as a place card. We put our photos in little gold frames, and tied them up with a ribbon and a sprig of evergreen.



This table, in my friend Nancy’s home, knocks it out of the park. This lovely pattern – Trade Winds by Spode – is set off by the faux leather chargers resting atop shiny silver trays. The table is a tribute to this homeowner’s ranching roots, so accents like the faux antler silverware are absolutely perfect.


Next Week … How are you ringing in 2017? I’ll have some New Year’s Day party ideas for you.