Are You Ready for Holiday Entertaining?

November 15, 2015

By Rachel Winkelmann

Although the pressure may seem high when it comes to being a host, to me there are few things more exciting than the opportunity to set a beautiful table for my friends and family to enjoy. 

All those extra layers of effort serve as a subtle reminder to our guests that 'this is a gathering meant for being truly present and connected'.   It's a dining experience where technology has no place at the table (okay, maybe just one Instagram photo because it's so darn beautiful).

I began hosting dinner parties shortly before my husband, and I got married. I enjoyed deciding on a theme and creating a night for friends that was personal and polished. This effort, of course, was pre-kids when the time was mine for the taking, and every little detail had my full attention. 12 years, and two kids later, even though time is scarce, I still delight in planning dinner parties for friends. I have found that it is possible to put together a special evening without having to give myself a small panic attack or overhaul my schedule. The most important thing is to let go of the small imperfections and enjoy the company.

As we officially enter the season of celebrations and gatherings, I thought I would provide you with a little of my entertaining expertise to help get you through the season. With just a little help and guidance, perfecting your table and styling skills should help you make it a fun experience rather than a difficult one.

In my opinion, creating an intimate and memorable atmosphere is all in the details. And it starts by...


Laying it out

The good news is that your table will feel less stuffy and more natural if things are placed intentionally but without being too perfect. Counter-intuitive, I know, but trust me! When designing your tablescape, play around with the height and weight of the items that you choose to feature at your table. You want things to feel even without being overly symmetrical. As you place your items, take frequent steps back to look at the overall look of the table. And simply, correct as needed.



Your meal is always going to look and taste better when complimented with beautiful table linens. Linens provide you with a great way to add a little color, pattern and texture to your table. Most of us already have a variety of linens on hand whether inherited from our Moms or picked up along the way. If you don't, it's time to purchase a few good sets that you can have on hand. What do we like? You can't go wrong with white, black and a natural linen set.



A floral arrangement adds so much life (literally!) to your table. If you only have time to do one thing for your table (aside from preparing the meal), let it be adding a few small arrangements. There is just something special about dining at a table with fresh cut stems.

Keep your arrangements loose. Think natural and flowing rather than stuffy and predictable. We have a segmant on creating 5-minute floral arrangements with instructions and some more inspiration. 


Keep your arrangements low so they don't interrupt dinner conversation.   I love the look of having small arrangements peppered down the length of the table rather than one large one in the center.


Bring the outside in

Some of the easiest ways to style and decorate for the holidays is to bring the outside in by using fresh greens and natural elements that only come around in the winter. For example, trimmings from the evergreens in your yard, like cedar, spruce, and fir, even pinecones – bring out a nostalgic traditional feel that we are so used to seeing around the holidays. Use them in your tablescapes!



Freshly baked bread or mulling spices are always best but aren't always the most convenient. Instead, invest in a great quality, holiday-scented candle. It will give off plenty of scent without being overpowering. Currently, I'm burning a Nest Holiday candle – you can't go wrong with your house smelling like one of these. If you are racing to get your home ready for last-minute guests, I always prioritize lighting a scented candle!



Populate your Pandora or Spotify with some crowd-pleasing holiday music. I'm partial to the Traditional Christmas station on Pandora – a combination of classic songs that everyone loves.


Non-Alchoholic Cranberry Spritzer

Be Ready!

Keep in mind that you never know what or who the holiday season will bring. My bar is always stocked with wine, beer, and fun yet simple mixer options such as cranberry juice.   Having the ingredients on hand for a non-alchoholic cocktail is also a great idea.  A Cranberry Spritzer is a refreshing option.   I also think its wise to stock nuts and your favorite cheese and crackers to have on hand. I promise you'll use it!


Mercury Glass

Invest in a few dozen mercury glass candle holders in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are the perfect base to any beautiful tablescape. And you will use them time and time again. Mercury votives work with virtually any color scheme as they reflect the items around them. Scatter them down the middle of your table, pepper your mantel with them, and add them to guest powder rooms for a little bit of sparkle and romance at every turn.

Don't let this list overwhelm you! You can always pick just a few. Remember, you can't go wrong with fresh flowers, candles and great music to bring your holiday gathering to life.   

Want a little more inspiration for your table top and settings?   This topic "Tablescapes For the Holidays" continues this Thursday evening, November 19th from 6 to 8 pm at our home store. Please join us for a fun evening where you will see just how easy it is to create inspired tables and settings! 


Please send us a message at to let us know if you can make it Thursday night.