Entertaining is never more special than during the holidays, when we pull out all the stops to make every feast and fete feel warm and inviting. The colors are vibrant and cheery; the food is impressive and hearty. And on every table are thoughtful details to remind us of the spirit of the season.
To create our most beautiful holiday table yet, we talked to Alison Attenborough, the stylist behind our Christmas entertaining story. Read on for her best tips and creative ideas, and see our full menu here.
Be playful with color. Our menu has plenty of holiday hues on its own — beets, apples, radishes — so Alison recommends highlighting those with other seasonal garnishes in red and green. This time of year, you can find red currants for garnishing cakes and other dishes; our Peppermint Bark can be crushed and sprinkled on desserts. Pink peppercorns and herbs are great for layering on cutting boards.
Let nature be your inspiration. When it comes to table decor, ask your florist for berries and holly, or look in your yard for any evergreen plants that you can trim branches from. Tie in ferns and pine cones, too — they add a rustic tone to the table and make a lovely alternative to a big floral centerpiece.
Think outside the platter. For our dinner, Alison carved and served the main roast on an antique chopping board, saving a dish and adding interest to the table. She recommends mixing and matching rustic and patterned bowls and dishes to create a unique table.
Give traditional pieces a fresh feel. Tartan is a classic print, but using it in unexpected ways gives it new life. According to Alison, pairing tartan with other patterns makes it look more modern. Her tip: mix in solids, or simply “clash” multiple tartan prints.
Mix old and new. Alison collects vintage ornaments, which she loves to use as table decorations, along with old-fashioned tinsel. Pair those elements with more modern serving pieces, and you’ve created a style all your own.
Raise a glass. Start the evening off on a festive note by serving your own signature holiday cocktail. Alison suggests a twist on the Kir, with a homemade syrup and a fun garnish, such as a rosemary branch as a stirrer. She uses a mix of glassware and barware. (Tip: those pieces make great gifts, too!)
Make it personal. Remember all those adorable Christmas cards you received from friends and family last year? Instead of leaving them stashed in a drawer somewhere, cut them up and make them into ornaments, or use them to write menus on. You’ll add a special, personal touch to the gathering.