Setting a Beautiful Table – Whimsical Christmas

Our 1920 cottage in Old Sugar Land.
Our cottage in Old Sugar Land was built in 1920.

A decade ago, I lived in a tiny wood frame house in a charming old neighborhood where time seemed to stand still: neighbors all knew each other, children rode their bikes in the street, and the baseball and football fields, elementary school and three churches were within a 5-minute walk.  My house was built in 1920 on a pier-and-beam frame and had hardwood floors and other charming old-house features.  It was really fun to dress the old girl up for the holidays, with Christmas being the uber-holiday.

Some of the table-setting tricks I’ve learned over the years are illustrated by the photos below.  They were taken before a special holiday dinner in 2006 when my parents met my inlaws-to-be for the first time.

  • Mix your glassware and china – different sizes, styles and colors can look great together.  Below I have a set of white china Christmas dishes, Waterford champagne glasses, magenta Italian crystal water glasses, and inexpensive crystal wine glasses, and somehow, it all works.
  • Dress up your table with inexpensive chargers.
  • Use place cards to design the optimum seating arrangements; they also make people feel special.
  • These little place card holders help set the stage for a fun evening
    These little place card holders help set the stage for a fun evening

    Embrace whimsy – the place card holders on this holiday table are a mix of tiny characters, and there’s a variety of Christmas-themed salt and pepper shakers, including a pair of dogs wearing Christmas wreaths.

  • Make things – the centerpiece was assembled from handmade bows, pine cones from my yard, faux greenery, and a few silk flowers and decorative berries from Hobby Lobby.
  • Use ribbons in place of napkin rings for a soft, elegant-yet-fun look.
Tie decorative holiday ribbons around your napkins to create a bright, festive look.
Tie decorative holiday ribbons around your napkins to create a bright, festive look.
Somehow, the mix of different glassware and china works.
Somehow, the mix of different glassware and china works.
Decorating not just the table, but the whole dining room, increases the holiday mood.
Decorating not just the table, but the whole dining room, increases the holiday mood.
Setting a Beautiful Christmas Table2
The Christmas dogs salt-and-pepper shakers and holiday toy-themed place cards add just the right amount of whimsy. The wreath centerpiece was less than $15 to make and includes pine cones and pecans from our yard.  I still have it almost a decade later. Nestled inside the wreath are inexpensive red glass candle holders.
Almost every surface in the little cottage was bedecked with Christmas finery
Almost every surface in the little cottage was bedecked with Christmas finery.  The larger Santa mug missing almost all its paint is a relic from my early childhood.

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