I’ve always had a passion for styling table settings at gatherings, but in recent years, it’s grown to be one of my greatest loves! Gathering friends and family around my table has always brought immense joy, and combining that with a beautiful table setting I’ve found creates an unforgettable experience.
I realized a few weeks back that I’ve never written an article on the how to’s of creating something like this in your own home, so I thought it was definitely time with the holidays upon us!
I’ve gathered a lot of experience and inspiration in all sorts of settings through hosting my Secret Suppers, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: no matter where you are, the environment you’re in, or the supplies you have, you can always create a beautiful, one–of–a–kind holiday gathering.
In this post, I’m going to show you 7 steps to designing a memorable holiday gathering including tips on how to get started, how to source the right items, and how to pair them to create a beautiful and cohesive setting.
1. Evaluate your Setting
Take a look at your surroundings.
What sort of vibe is present in your dining area and/or room? Is it warm and cozy? Is it bright and airy? Do you see lush trees and bushes out the windows or are you in a small city loft with a skyline view?
All of these elements will play into the possibilities at hand. From there, you can think creatively on how to pull these elements in to help strengthen your look.
2. Clarify Your Vision
Keeping in mind the elements present in your setting noted above, ask yourself what sort of mood you’re looking to create. Do you want a romantic, low lit setting or do you prefer to have a light, bright white and fresh feel? Knowing this will help with the next step and also help spur inspiration on what’s possible.
3. Choose a Color Scheme
Now that you know what your setting is and the feel you’re looking to create, you can start thinking through creative ways to incorporate your surroundings into the setting. I always work with complimentary colors and intentionally look for a way to bring a fresh spin.
4. Choose Your Props
It can be wonderfully surprising when you start looking around your house for what you might be able to incorporate in your table setting.
In the setting seen in these photos, I wanted a romantic, rich setting that felt holiday—but I didn’t want to go the traditional route of red and green (remember, find a fresh spin).
I pulled from my surroundings – extra dried flower clippings and pomegranates from the kitchen. I grabbed old brass candlesticks found at an antique store for a few dollars each, paired with some extra tapers I had in my drawer.
5. Layer in Textures
Start with your base. I laid down an old navy scrap of linen fabric from the store to act as a base color (cost me about $12) and then set the candlesticks in the center of the table. From there, I layered in all the foliage I had on hand – layers of textures and shapes in shades of dark green, burgundy, and light blue.
6. Design Your Place Settings
I am always a fan of breaking tradition and sticking to uniform pieces. Dig deep in your cupboard and pull out your favorite pieces! You can see in the images that the plates are all mix match and it provides a perfect amount of interest.
I will say, however, that it is key that you have a common thread throughout the setting to keep it from looking scattered.
For instance, I used the same set of grey linen napkins, gold wine glasses, and copper flatware to keep the look cohesive.
7. Finish the Look
Take a step back.
How is everything looking? Are the colors complimenting each other? Do you have a cohesive thread throughout? Does your setting vibe with the room or space?
Feel free to make adjustments. If you’re just not sure, try removing an element or maybe having less of it.
Light the candles. Sit down. Try and pinpoint what emotion you have when sitting there, and remember that when friends are gathered and the table is filled with warm food and bottles of wine, all this will be wonderfully heightened in the best way.
I’d love to see your next table setting! Post an image on Instagram and tag me at @christiannkoepke, and I’ll reply and try to give some feedback.
For more inspiration, feel free to check out past table settings co-styled with Eva Kosmas Flores for past Secret Suppers