We’re still finding our way for Christmas dinner traditions.
I suppose it will be so for some time to come, as is the case with blended families, comprising of member young and old, near and far. Some years we are fifty-strong at one set of in-laws for a hot turkey dinner with all the fixings, followed by an ample sweet table.
This year, we are hosting another side of the family around our table and my new range will get to perform Christmas dinner duties. I’m roasting a leg of lamb with Meyer lemon as a nod to my British background, not forgetting the Yorkshire pudding or the classic English trifle for dessert. We will be 14 at dinner, so you, know, a respectable number but still manageable.
With everything that is going on (book-writing, house guests, holiday prep and a houseful of kids) I wanted a simple yet festive holiday table. It took some head-scratching, a little sawing and snipping, and an hour of scrolling Pinterest, but in the end, my Christmas tablescape came together with relative ease and the natural beauty I was hoping to achieve.
My Christmas Dinner Tablescape: Neutral and Natural.
It is far from perfect, with mismatched everything, but that is part of the charm, and exactly why you can pull this off this decorating formula at home, should you choose to do so. Pictured is only half of the table, as we’ll add a second one on the big day to comfortably seat eleven adults and three children.
How did it come together? I raided the pantry for jam jars, the piano bench for sheet music, and the forest behind the house for natural decorations. Danny got crafty with a log of birch wood for a candle holder, details on which I will give below.
Hers’s the breakdown, for those interested, and for the rest of you who are not hosting this year, enjoy the photos!
The base: a neutral linen tablecloth.
I didn’t want to buy anything for my tableset, mostly because I dislike Christmas shopping with the crowds, but I ended up making one purchase: a linen tablecloth, two of them, actually. My current tablecloth situation badly needed refreshing (such is life with three children) and the new ones will get plenty of use during the other 51 weeks of the year.
The neutral pure linen tablecloth covered my beat-up wooden table and set a calm backdrop for the remaining elements.
Placemats: vintage sheet music.
In a fit of pre-holiday cleaning, I unearthed two music workbooks in our piano bench with a child’s handwriting scrawled on the cover – that child being one of Danny’s aunts. I opened them to the centre, carefully removed the staples and lifted off 14 sheets of yellowed music – exactly the number of ‘placemats’ I needed.
The vintage sheet music has all sorts of delightful song titles, which are sure to be good conversation starters around the table. ‘How Should I Your True Love Know?’, ‘Gossip Joan’, and ‘Peter’s Donkey, Jenny’ are but just a few of the gems.
Check out your local thrift shops for old music books or ask an elderly family member to hunt around in storage. It’s worth a shot.
The place setting:
White plates and cloth napkins fall in the neutral theme, and I have those in all shapes and sizes. My talented friend Melissa, of Lost Bumblebee Graphics made these festive cards for me for another project and I am repurposing them for the table. She does the most beautiful hand lettering.
Two Christmases ago, we received stemless wine glasses from Riedel as a gift and I couldn’t love them more. We find that there is far less breakage than when we used stemware – mostly because they don’t get knocked over at the table or on the counter. Also? Dishwasher safe.
Water tumblers are something I don’t have, as we mostly use glass jam jars for everyday drinking. I rounded up my small Weck tulip jars to use for the table, which actually don’t look terrible next to the Riedel. We’re going for mismatched rustic, right?
Lastly, the centrepiece.
I started with a board of old barn wood as a base, but you could just as easily add the decorations on a tray, platters, or even directly on the table. A few fir branches and pine cones brought colour and texture to the table as well as a touch of nature that I love so much.
Danny drilled holes in an old birch log that I foraged from the forest ages ago and we set tea lights into the holes for a simple, yet festive candleholder. All in all, this was a very frugal centrepiece.
I may add a few of my orange pomanders on Christmas day, but I haven’t decided yet. I like the neutral and natural tones that are happening.
Now, that the table is set, it’s time to get in the kitchen!
How do you like to decorate a table for the holidays? Do you have a signature style?