Setting Your Holiday Table

with Brittany Young

During the holidays, the table is arguably the most important spot at the party.  Whether it’s to munch on finger foods at the office Christmas gathering, or sitting down with the family to a filling New Year’s Eve feast, at some point we all find ourselves there, at the table. And as Brittany Young, the Certified Celebrator herself tells it, the décor on the table is just as important as the food on it.  

“It’s the experience that makes the memory, so it’s like the everyday eating dinner at the table, but providing an experience,” says Young about gathering around the table during the holidays. That is why a memorable and beautiful tablescape is so important.   

A true tablescape is more than just a centerpiece. “I call it the ingredients of your dining room table,” Young explains as she walks around her own adorned table with her dog, Howard, at her feet.  

Those ingredients include a table runner, chargers, salad and dinner plates, napkins, stemware, silverware, and a centerpiece. “That’s the core, and you can change those out as you want.”
For those who don’t have a lot of space in their homes to store lots of seasonal items, it’s easy to work around your everyday pieces.

“I keep the base of everything white, like my everyday dishes.  Then I add a color or something seasonal,” says Young. She even incorporates the tray and vases she keeps on her table year round in her holiday tablescape.

Building a tablescape doesn’t have to be a strain on your wallet. Along with incorporating items you already have, Young encourages budget shopping. “Sometimes the Dollar Tree has really cute pieces, and you can mix those in with your more expensive pieces.  When you are mixing it all together you don’t even know.”

“I love shopping in the dollar section,” she says.  

Basically, if you have a table, you can have a tablescape. “It doesn’t matter the size of your table. Your ingredients are going to be the same.  It just has to be proportional,” explains Young. If you have a small table, you just need smaller items.  

To make sure the table is not too cluttered and that the centerpiece is not too tall, Young encourages the “table test.” Two people should sit on opposite sides of the table and make sure they can see and speak to each other comfortably.  

“Once you have something that is symmetrical and fits your space, you can add anything for the season. It’s all about sizing in my opinion.”  

Of course, a table is incomplete without the stories and conversations that go one around it. Young likes to keep a few conversation starters on hand for the holidays.  

“The holidays are all about family. We all know that. But sometimes we see our coworkers and friends more than we see our families, and sometimes we see our families all the time. Having these conversation starters is just a way to talk about something different and get a little deeper,” she says.

Some of her suggestions are talking about what you want to savor the most this holiday season, your funniest shopping fail, and your favorite thing about the person sitting next to you.  

She also encourages getting the kids involved in these conversation.  “I try to make the kids’ table functional. I want them to have a pretty table too, and most of these conversation starters you can ask them.”

“For kids it can be hard to wait for dinner to be ready, so I like to have an activity for them at their table,” says Young. Some examples are decorating cookies, making cards for neighbors, or even craft kits available at Hobby Lobby.  

 She explains that this year is all about creating traditions with her four-year-old. “Last year was more kid friendly.  This year I am focusing on family memories as he is getting older.”

She points to a cute deer in her centerpiece.  “This wasn’t my grandmother’s; I found this at Hobby Lobby.  But this reminded me of a piece that she had. It brought back the joy of my youth and childhood. I kept thinking about this one piece, and just added around that.”  

When it comes to the holidays and decorating your table, Young says there are no rules.  
Young makes the most of her space by expanding the theme for each season throughout her coffee bar as well. Many of these unique pieces purchased from Embellish Home become a part of the holiday theme by simply adding coordinating ribbon or florals.