Set a Welcoming Holiday Table


There are so many wonderful things about the holiday season. But gathering around the table, enjoying a meal with people you love? Can’t be beat! At Nell Hill’s, creating fun, intriguing and inviting tables is a passion. And nobody here does it better than Chery, a member of our visual display team. The Duchess of Dining, Chery constantly amazes me as she comes up with new and inventive table designs that dazzle and delight. Whether it’s for everyday dinner or a special holiday event, give your table some added cheer this season. Here, Chery and the Nell Hill’s visual design team share tips and inspiration for making your holiday table memorable.


Set the stage with table linens


When setting a formal table, a crisp white tablecloth is the standard bearer. But it’s only one approach to starting a stunning table. I want to challenge you to rethink table coverings. At Nell Hill’s, we like to experiment. On the inspiration table in the photo above, we stole a casual plaid throw blanket from a bed and used it as our tablecloth. I also like to raid my clothes closet and pull out shawls and large scarves to use as table linens. If you’re setting an extra big table this holiday season, Chery suggests mixing together several different kinds of tablecloths or blankets, as long as they harmonize with each other and fit your color scheme.


To show off the beauty of your wood table, try using a table runner that extends the length or width of your table. You will still get the color and texture of a tablecloth, but leave plenty of open spaces that allow your lovely table to shine.

STYLING TIP: Shake things up a bit with one of our favorite looks at Nell Hill’s. Start each place setting with a placemat turned a quarter of a turn, so that a portion of the placemat cascades over the side of the table, down toward the chair. The hint of fabric will lend color and pattern to your table. And, placemats are super easy to launder.


Ground the place setting


Want to give each place setting on your table a bit of panache? Just slip a charger or tray under the dinner plate. It’s amazing how this little touch will elevate the look of even your everyday table, turning Tuesday night meatloaf into a fancy feast.  Through the years, we have gotten very inventive at Nell Hill’s when it comes to creating unusual base layers for our tabletops. We’ve started place settings on top of things like mirrors, artwork and wreaths. So, let your creativity run wild.

On this inspiration table at Nell Hill’s, we used a plaid charger custom made for Nell Hill’s. I picked out my all-time favorite holiday plaid and found a company that could make it into trays and chargers for us. They are exclusive to Nell Hill’s, and our customers are loving them!

STYLING TIP: Chery likes to mix together lots of patterns and textures on her table tops. So she suggests selecting a charger in a contrasting color or pattern, something unexpected to set off your dishes.


Mix up your dishes


Remember when we were expected to use matched sets of dishes when we entertained? You can say goodbye to that creativity killing rule. Feel free to mix your dishes with abandon.  At Nell Hill’s we often use different patterns for the dinner plate, the salad plate and the top layer (which may be a soup tureen, or a cup and saucer). Not only does the variation of plates make your table more interesting to look at, it gives you a great way to use those partial sets that are gathering dust in your china hutch, the ones you never use because you don’t have enough of each plate size to outfit the entire table.


Give your everyday dishes an instant holiday makeover by topping them with a holiday themed salad plate. On this whimsical inspiration table at Nell Hill’s, the everyday white dinner plate sets the stage for a few layers of nostalgic holiday plates. Aren’t these Kringle Farm plates the cutest thing ever? They would be wonderful for a kids’ cookie-making party, or filled with treats for Santa on Christmas Eve.

STYLING TIP: Add some drama to your table setting by building it up a bit, Chery suggests. Top your tower of plates with a wrapped gift for each guest, a sorbet glass holding a tree ornament or a cup and saucer, ready for hot cocoa or Irish coffee.


Add contrasting glassware & flatware


Just as a great pair of earrings or a wonderful scarf can make your outfit, your choice of glassware and flatware can amp up the finished look of your table. Colored glassware gives you a chance to accentuate a key color in your palette. Don’t be afraid to use more than one set on your table. We often mix patterns when we design our tables at Nell Hill’s. Or, add a little statement-maker, like this nostalgic glass, just waiting for milk for Santa or a bit of eggnog for you.


Finish with some great serving pieces


Another way to make everyday dining a bit more fun is to work in seasonal serving pieces. Majolica pieces are among my favorites. Check out this fabulous pitcher, with the fox serving as the handle!


Next Week … Come with me to Riverbend to see how plaids can add warmth and charm to your decor all year long, but especially during the fall and winter.