A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

As promised, here’s a look at a simple Christmas table setting I put together. The past few table settings (Halloween, and Thanksgiving) I have been doing were for a full meal, but for Christmas I decided to go with a Christmas Tea Party table setting.

Instead of focusing on what items I started with before setting the table this time, I’m going to focus on the process.

Talk a walk around the house.

Get an idea of what you’re looking for in your head. I knew that I was looking for things that were red, green, and white. When I took a walk around the house I realized exactly how easy this was going to be. All of my kitchen accessories are red, and it was really easy to find red, green, white, silver, and gold teas to serve on the tray.

Mix patterns with solids

Once I chose to use my Christmas dishes (which I’ve never actually) had the chance to use before, I knew that the cups needed to be pretty plain. A dark  green would have been best, but I decided that the white ones had a clean, sleek look.

Add some nature

Bringing the outdoors in is a great way to make your table feel balanced. There were excellent intentions of getting greenery for this table. I went to Trader Joe’s. I bought flowers and greenery. I left them at the office. Then I couldn’t find time to get back to the office before setting the table. It sounds a lot like what happens during a real party, not going to lie. So I decided to use the large pine cones that Ben got at Sequoia National Park. They’ve got a nice winter vibe to them.

Use what you already have

I didn’t buy very much for this table setting (only the flowers, which never made it home). I had the plates and the napkins downstairs. I used a few of the candy canes and Andes mints from the hot chocolate bar. I’m still using the nametags I made last year (and will continue to until I run out). When I went downstairs I found the tree stump serving platter that I’ve been looking for an excuse to use which nicely complements the pine cones. And the tea tray I had bought for afternoon tea; I just added a little bit of ribbon to it. (There’s a chance I need to work on my ribbon skills.

Make the table functional

After the last party I had where I decorated the table nicely and the second the party started we moved everything off the table I’ve been a little weary of going over the top again. I tried to keep the center of the table pretty clear so that all we needed to move was the pine cones to create some extra space. It also means that people can see each other easier.

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

In my walk around the house I did pull out a few things to use that I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate. They were: a silver platter, Mardi Gras beads, candles, and a red vase.

I love this (fake) silver platter. I just wish it had more height to it. I may need to buy some of those small cake stands so that I can change the levels of my dishes to add more dimension to the table. Also, it kind of clashed with the rectangular white plate.

As for the Mardi Gras beads, I couldn’t figure out a pretty way to lay them down. If I had more or ones that matched I might have been able to put them in some vases or make a chain to drape them all the way across the table.

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel
A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

I also tried to use both extra tall candles and super short candles. I couldn’t use the extra tall ones because they’re not white. (I should really buy some white candles, they seem like they would be useful.) And the short candles, yet again, didn’t seem to add enough height to the table. (And sometimes they still seem like a hazard.)

Also. My intention was totally to use this red vase. (Or at least a vase.) But then I forgot the flowers at the office and I couldn’t figure out what else to put in them. If I had branches I could cut off the bottom of a tree or sticks outside I think those would have worked nicely. Unfortunately, we got our tree about 6 hours too late and I live in the city.

A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel
A Simple Christmas Tea Party Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

That said, I’m sure all of these items will get to be used soon. I’m excited to keep sharing these tables with you. I hope they inspire you to add a little festivity to your own Christmas parties this year. Can’t wait to start working on a New Year’s table for y’all. I hope not to forget the flowers this time.

PS. This table cloth situation. I actually can’t get the wrinkles out of it. My iron hates me and my dryer doesn’t get hot enough to produce steam. Anybody have any suggestions?

Party Decor 101

Today I would like to introduce you to somebody who has become one of my favorite people in Philadelphia. Her name is Sarah. She blogs at smoorelovin’. And she is an incredible human being. She’s always smiling. She’s always got a really fun project that she’s working on. And she is the most kick-butt creative director The Blog Connect conference could have ever asked for. She’s also a saint for putting up with my hyper-left-brained emails.

Recently I’ve realized I don’t know much about party decor. It’s something I’ve been trying to do more of, just to make the evening feel a little bit more special, but I literally had no idea where to start. Sarah was the first person I though to ask how to fix this. Why? Because of her Friendsgiving centerpiece last year (which she mentions below). So I asked her what her best Party Decor 101 tips were. Here was her answer:

Having guests over can be intimidating, here are five of the things I do to help make both myself and my guests comfortable. To set the stage – I operate under the assumption that when people feel welcomed and comfortable in my home they enjoy things more. Obviously when my guests are enjoying themselves, I am more likely to enjoy myself and stress a little less about being a good host. I like to think that small decor changes really help people feel more comfortable. The tips I am sharing will hopefully help you feel more comfortable with dipping your toe into the waters of party decorating. They are just as good for a small dinner party as they are for a large pot-luck event.

It’s really easy to be intimidated by all the beautiful staged parties you see on Instagram and Pinterest. If you want to work up to that level of decor that’s awesome, but keep in mind the simpler things you can start doing at your next get-together. The more get-togethers you have, the easier it will become and the more at-ease you will feel adding new steps into your routine.

Party Decor 101 as told by Sarah Moore
Clockwise: Photo By Refinery29 | Photo By Jane
Photo By Lemon Thistle | Photo By Finding Home Farms

Bringing the Outdoors In

Flowers are my favorite way to make things feel warm and welcoming. The best part is you can get them from the grocery when you pick up snacks for your gathering. If you need to do the grocery shopping a few days before your party and are worried about the flowers wilting, make sure to cut the ends of the stems when you get home and put them in fresh water. Then stick the entire arrangement in the fridge – you’ll be good to go.

As an alternative for bigger get-togethers, I like to do some foraging for my decorations. Last year I hosted Friendsgiving for a group of 18. We do a potluck style meal that is usually pretty no-fuss and I wanted to add a few touches of festive decoration. I also wanted to have as much table space open as possible. I opted for a hanging mobile of sorts. I used some leaves that had fallen off a rubber tree I have + some leaves I picked up on a walk around my neighborhood + a branch + gold spray paint to create my mobile. I used the spray paint on the leaves and then attached them to the branch using fishing line. I hung the whole thing from the ceiling right above the food. It was pretty cool!

Alternative Lighting

Lighting always makes a space feel good. Add a candle or have a cool lamp turned on to give your space a bit more oomf. I specifically say, “add” because this should probably be in addition to your normal lighting unless you have a dimmer on your lights. As an example, in my house I have an open floor plan, my living area, dining area and kitchen are all connected. I usually turn the lights on in the kitchen and living area and have a couple of lamps on in between. It sounds odd, but the light from a lamp has a much warmer feeling than over-head lights.

Place Settings

If you are having a gathering where it makes sense to have place settings for everyone, definitely decide on that early on. Make sure you have enough for everyone and I lucked out in this department – my mom gave me the dishes she and my Dad got for their wedding. I am fully stocked for parties up to 8. Anything more than that and I usually pull out compostable plates and napkins. If you are not into the idea of using disposable, but also don’t have a set large enough for the group you are serving I say simply commit to the mis-matching. Make sure that all of the places are set with different plates and it becomes clearly intentional vs. something that just happened. It makes people feel like you knew they were coming and you were excited to get things ready for them.

Food as Decor

I am all about working smart. It’s probably a pretty safe bet that you are serving food, so take advantage of it! Use you appetizers as a centerpiece. I love the idea of using butcher paper as a giant, table-sized cheese board. You can write out what each cheese or fruit is to take away any confusion. Plus, add on any other hors d’oeuvres and you’ll have a pretty awesome and impactful display.

Music

If all else fails, play music. There is no easier way to set a mood and add to the vibe. Personally, Jay-Z radio is my go-to. The nice thing about relying on a radio station by Spotify or Pandora is you don’t have to worry about running out of songs. If you would rather know what’s coming, playlists are the obvious choice. I have shared a number of playlists on smoorelovin for different moods and genres that can help get you started!

Thanks so much to Sarah for sharing a few specific tips. After my 22 oz. beer party I’m definitely going to be thinking more about using food as decor. I can’t wait to give it a try! Don’t forget to check out Sarah’s blog below.

Sarah from smoorelovin
Sarah is an Interactive Designer by day and a hand lettering enthusiast/blogger/art director by night. Her passion lies in creating big things where others may see little potential – developing the aesthetic behind a brand, unearthing personality in individual style and using her creative forces for good. She blogs at smoorelovin about the creative inspiration she finds in music, style and everyday life.

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

Today we’re continuing the series of simple holiday table settings; this one is a simple Thanksgiving table setting. I’ve really been enjoying doing these table settings. It’s given me a chance to stretch my mind a little bit as well as build out my decor collection. (Which admittedly, I probably didn’t need an excuse to do, but I’m pretty happy that I have one.)

I only bought two new items for this tablescape: an orange table runner and the “thankful” napkins. This means that I have three table runners: red/orange/yellow, orange, and white. I think this might actually be all I need for now because it covers most of the holidays. We’ll see if I can stop buying things for a while. But both things came from Marshall’s so I feel okay about it.

Another thing that I did was save the beer bottles from my 22 oz. beer party to use as table vases. In order to get the labels off I used a hairdryer to peel the labels back and then nail polish (100% acetone-style) to get the sticker glue off the outside of the bottle. I think that this did a good job keeping my table a little bit richer as opposed to the clear bottles that I used for the simple Halloween table setting. I’m starting to believe that one of the key things to setting a good table is to just keep your mind open a few weeks in advance to see how you can use the things you’ve already bought so you don’t need to spend any more money.

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

From the collection of things I already have I used the flowers from a previous party, the yellow Napkins from the Halloween tablescape, the small candle holders I bought for my fancy thrifted dinner party, twine from my crafting supplies, gold marble pebble things that my friend Carly gave me before moving to Texas (does anybody know what these are called?), and then all the plates, cups, and silverware from my kitchen. (I think I’ve officially decided I’m going to be that person who never has a set of silverware that matches. It’s just going to be cute, thrifty, and unique. Or something.)

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

I took the flowers from the original vases and put a few of them into the beer bottles.

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

Then I decided to wrap the silverware using the napkins and twine.

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

Followed by putting the gold pebbles at the bottom of the candle glasses to make them seem a little bit more full and thoughtful. That said, I really want one of those long wooden candle holders for the middle of the table. Ben has said he can build me one. I’m excited. I still need to get him measurements. And then I need to buy some of those bigger stand-alone candles. Anybody have recommendations on where to buy those?

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

Then I took the table runner out of the packaging and placed it on the table. It was so wrinkled. So I went to go get the iron. And yes, I ironed it directly on the table. Admittedly, it didn’t really work. Y’all, I really stink at ironing. I’ve asked my mother for a new ironing board for Christmas because I’ve decided the usual problem is the ironing board, not me. I’m not 100% sure that’s going to solve the problem though.

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

And then I pieced the rest of everything together! I ended up deciding that it wasn’t weird to put a napkin in the dish and/or give people two napkins. Feel free to share your opinion on this though in the comments below. I keep seeing tables on Pinterest where they put lemons and limes and pears and pomegranates in people’s dishes to set the table, which always seems weird for me. Especially because I’m not about to take a large bite out of a pomegranate when I sit down. So at least napkins can be easily removed and don’t contaminate your dish.

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Thanksgiving Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

I remembered 24 hours after taking the photos that I actually had small pumpkins that I had placed on the steps outside on Halloween night that I probably could have used as a formal centerpiece. Maybe next time to create a chunkier centerpiece that doesn’t involve tall vases. That would probably make it easier for people to see each other across the table anyway.

What do you think?  Do you have any go-to table setting tips? I’d love to hear them below. I’ve got four more tables left to go for this series: Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.

A Simple Halloween Table Setting

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

After all of the Pinterest browsing I’ve been doing recently I’ve decided I want to get good at setting tables. I could spend all day looking at pretty tables and never get bored. I’ve decided to start my mission on the first holiday of the fall season: Halloween. My goal was to try to use as many things from around the house I could. This would (a) keep it cheap, (b) prove that other people can do this too, and (c) give me the chance to use a bunch of things around my house.

I went on a mission for things and here’s what I came back with:

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

  • Plates
  • Glasses
  • Utensils
  • Yellow paper napkins
  • White cloth napkins
  • Fall-colored ribbon
  • Small candle holders
  • Halloween salt and pepper shakers
  • Empty coconut water bottles that I made my co-workers give me when they were done with them so I could turn them into vases

And then I went to Trader Joe’s and bought:

  • 4 little pumpkins
  • 1 bouquet flowers

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel
A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

The first thing that I did was make use of my new “vases” and separated the flowers into three groups. My plan was originally to separate them into two, but I realized that they only gave me one of the one on the right in the photograph below, so I decided to stick it in a vase of its own.

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

The next thing I did was choose how to fold the napkins. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at cool ways to fold napkins and I knew I wanted them to add some dimension to the plates. I decided accordion-style would be fun, and it turned out to be pretty easy to fold. (Here’s the tutorial I used: How to Fold a Napkin into a Standing Fan by Howcast.)

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

I couldn’t decide how weird it was to put a pumpkin on the plates that people were going to eat off of, but I ended up going for it because putting it on the table made the runner feel too crowded. Maybe in the future it would be good to put some kind of coaster under the pumpkin. Also, while it might seem silly to use two types of napkins I liked the pop of color that the yellow added.

I also decided that I wanted to add some scrapbooking paper to the table to make it a little bit more festive since it didn’t seem like there was enough attention on the candles.

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

After I had set the table originally, Ben and I looked at it both thought it was a little too “bright” to be a table decorated for Halloween. We decided to darken things up by adding dark bottles of beer directly to the table.

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

And of course I had to use my Halloween salt and pepper shakers that I bought over 5 years ago and still haven’t had a chance to actually use. I like the fact that I was able to set a festive looking table without too much Halloween decor, which means that it should be easy to switch the basics in and out for each holiday. I hope to continue doing this with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthday, New Years, and Valentine’s Day as well.

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

I ended up tying the colorful ribbon around the top of my new vases to add a little pop of color!

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

My next “professional development” step that I’m going to take towards being better at this is trying to learn how to make simple flower arrangements. I feel like I could definitely add a little somethin’ somethin’ to the table by making the flower arrangements a little more elaborate. That said, I do like keeping them low so that you can see the other people across the table.

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

And here is the obligatory view from the top of the table. Would you believe I ironed that table runner? I swear I did. Maybe next time I’ll bring the steamer down.

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

A Simple Halloween Table Setting via Chrystina Noel

Overall, I had a lot of fun setting the table. It was fun to think through what was going to work and what wasn’t going to work. It was also fun to go through the house to see how many things I could use that I already owned. That said, I’m already starting to add a few things to my shopping list:

  • Fun gold charger plates that can be used for any holiday
  • Napkins that are any color other thank white

What do you think? Does it look like something you could do? Do you have any suggestions for next time? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.