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Create drama for your holiday table

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 16, 2022 5:00 am

Dinners and gatherings during the holidays are some of the most important occasions of the year with family and friends, so we naturally want to make our table settings as extraordinary and unforgettable as possible.

As a host, it should reflect our personality, but we can always do something unexpected with a touch of theater or drama.

Create a story
A crèche scene with bronze urn vase and greens

Bronze deer in a woodland of flowers and berries

The nativity may be the reason for celebrating Christmas, but if you take inspiration from crèche tableaus, there are many other scenes with stories that can be told, like village people, shepherds, and farmers, which can make a charming centerpiece together with foliage, greens, berries, and fruits. Or you can look at what figures you have in the house and make up your own narratives. The bronze deer in our garden became inspiration for a tableau of animals following the star of Bethlehem, going through woodlands we created on our holiday buffet table.

Create height
Blooms above and below keep the setting visually interesting.

Not everything has to be earth or table-bound. You can intersperse low floral arrangements with tall vases so that the flowers are soaring above eye level, providing festivity without distracting from the conversation. You can also festoon the chandelier with flowers and/or ornaments to bring the celebration to a higher level. If you don’t have a chandelier, you can hang tree branches above the table and embellish them with blooms.

Red, the traditional Christmas color, always gives a shot of energy to jumpstart the celebrations.

Create warmth with nature
A lettuce-ware vase of flowers, porcelain bird figures, evergreens, and pine cones acts as the centerpiece for a table setting of mint-green china and glassware mixed with mother-of-pearl-handled cutlery on floral-embroidered linens

Bringing nature to your table creates relaxation, which sets the right mood for celebration. Greens and earth tones are soothing reminders of the outdoors and natural materials like bamboo, shells, and mother-of-pearl add to the warm feeling. For even better vibrations, add crystals and minerals to the setting. For the joy of abundance, fruits, nuts and other harvests from the farm can fill bowls and trays.

Create drama with color
Red tablecloth, red stemware, and a centerpiece vase of red flowers bring high energy to the party.

Red, the traditional Christmas color, always gives a shot of energy to jumpstart the celebrations. Complement the rich color with greens and metallics for a balanced look. If red’s too strong for you, try magenta, the color of the year 2023, or pink.

Create variety
Mismatched plates pick up colors from the patterned tablecloth.

A play of patterns and textures from the Delft plate, wicker charger, and monogrammed napkin, to the flora and fauna print tablecloth and elephant vase

What a boring world it would be if everything always matched, so play around with table service by going wild with colors, patterns, textures, and mismatching pieces as you go along. It’s Christmas, after all, and it’s your party so you can go crazy if you want to.