With the holidays just around the corner, I know many of you are already thinking about hosting family and friends in your home – and specifically around your dining table. I have found that the key to gracious entertaining isn’t necessarily in having extravagant centerpieces or perfectly placed name-cards, but in engaging your guests with a meaningful and elevated sensory experience.

When creating an interesting tablescape I often follow many of the same design principles that I employ when designing a room. For example, I first decide what the focal point will be. It’s important to think about which element you want to take center stage – the flowers, linens, dishware, etc  then let the other elements compliment this and play second fiddle. My family has come to expect a seasonal focal point from me, typically in the form of beautiful flowers. However, you might prefer to highlight a patterned tablecloth or colored glassware; just make sure your selection reflects you! I have outlined several tips for creating a special tablescape below, and hope they will inspire you this holiday season!

  • Function First: When it comes to entertaining – put function first. This may seem surprising because I am all about a gorgeous aesthetic, but it is never a great idea to hide your guests’ faces behind an obtrusive floral arrangement. I was taught that your flowers should not be taller than the distance from your elbow to your fist OR they should be in a tall, slender vase that can easily be seen around.  It is important to vary the height of these decorative objects so that your tablescape does not feel flat or one-dimensional.

  • Get Creative: Don’t be afraid to add a bold hue, pattern, or texture to your tablescape. Pops of color on linens or dishes can add interest, festivity, and personality to your décor. Express yourself by investing in items that have meaning to you, as you will likely use them year after year. I personally adore Busatti linens, candlesticks of differing heights, clear glass hurricanes and vintage pieces. If you’ve inherited grandma’s china or a treasured family heirloom, the holidays can be the perfect time to dust them off. These items give you that timeless and collected look that can otherwise take years to achieve.

  • Appeal to all the senses: It is easy to get lost in preparing tasty holiday treats and special family recipes which appeal to our sense of taste, but it is also important to think about the other senses as well. Luxuriously soft linens, scented candles, or a special music playlist can help guests feel right at home. Don’t forget to include a natural element such as fresh flowers or greenery, fruit with cloves, leaves, gourds, garland, or clipped branches from the yard. Bringing the outdoors in can appeal to your guests’ senses as well as add authentic and natural beauty to your table.

Implement a few of these tips and you’re sure to make a great impression on your company. Going beyond the basics with personalized and special entertaining is what the holidays are all about. A carefully curated table conveys warmth, gratitude, and welcome. Your guests will feel the joy you create!