I've written before about how the kitchen is the heart of the home, but during the holiday season dinning rooms really come into their own as we host friends and family to celebrate the season. Here are a few of my tips on how to host an amazing dinner using items in your own home that brings out the best of your dinning space.
The centrepiece of any dining space must be the table and chairs. First of all make sure those chairs are comfortable, you really want people to sit and chat and nothing makes people move on faster than an uncomfortable chair. The table itself should be big enough to fit everyone comfortably so they aren't elbowing one another while they eat. I'll chat a bit about styling your table, but if you are struggling to fit in the food and the decorations consider setting up a station where people can fill their plates in your kitchen or, if you're feeling like really pulling out all the stops, you could dish up the plates yourself for your guests. Just make sure to warm them up in the oven first so the first plate you serve is still warm when you sit down.
The fun and creative bit really comes in when you decorate your table. It's a chance for you to bring out those china sets that have been languishing all year, cake stands, baking trays and Christmas baubles can also be mixed in...it's about using what you have to hand to create a fun and inviting table. Candles, fresh flowers and even potted herbs work well when added to a table. Get creative with what you have at home before you rush out onto the high street!
First things first. I always lay a runner down the centre of the table to define the space on which you'll be putting your accessories. It also helps to unify the different elements for a cohesive look. I have a neutral linen runner I use as a base often adding a coloured runner in another fabric on top to tie in with my colour scheme. For Christmas, you don't need to use the traditional red and green colour scheme. Deep colours like plum, burnt reds or even burnt orange colours add real warmth in winter and bring a sophisticated touch to your holiday table.
If you're using flowers or greenery place these next as they will likely be the tallest elements on your table. I often use fruit and vegetables when decorating a table as well because they are inexpensive but create real dynamism. If you use fruit, just make sure to wash them in case your guests want to nibble after dinner.
Then place your candles. I use votive candles so they create a lovely glow while keeping the flame and wax safely contained. I know some people feel scented candles interfere with aroma of the food, however I think scented candles set the mood for when people enter the space and act as a background note finishing the space.
Next place your plates or chargers at each place along with the cutlery. I think mixing the side plates, chargers and dinner plates ads dynamism to the place setting so don't worry about everything matching. Cloth napkins add a real sense of luxury and you can do great knots or folds with fabric to add a bit of a flourish to your table. Lastly add your glasses. I recommend having one for water and one for wine.
Lighting is the final thing to consider. You will have light from your candles but it won't be quite enough for when you eat the meal. If you have an overhead light, think about dimming it to set a more relaxed mood. If you don't have a dimmer switch (though I would really recommend you get one!) work with a floor lamp in a corner or table lamp on a sideboard so you can switch off the overhead lighting which isn't flattering for anyone.
Holiday dining is about spending quality time with friends and family so you want to create a relaxing space that people want to linger in. I hope with my simple suggestions that don't break the bank you'll be able to put together a table that you love so you can spend time eating, laughing and talking with your nearest and dearest.
Happy holidays xx
Follow Kelly Hoppen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kellyhoppen