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December 01, 2015

Beyond tinsel

Entertain in style this holiday season

David Crosson

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Be your focus religious or secular, however you celebrate the festive season it’s safe to say the holiday table is common ground for the majority. And, although people’s preferences may vary, this time of year is known to provide some latitude when it comes to sparkle. Like a dash of spice, how much you use is up to you — think of it as seasoning the season to taste.

Dialed up or dialed down, when it comes to glitz it’s good to start with a solid base — your own dishes, for example. Classic white plates can be taken in any number of directions and will serve you (literally) 365 days a year. Investing in a good set will allow you to change things up with accessories and explore trends without reinventing the wheel (or plate) each time, much in the same way you’d use trendy, bright cushions to jazz up a simple sofa.

I like to play it cool when it comes to the holidays, and often use subtle metallics to bring a bit of sparkle to largely neutral tablescapes. One go-to material of mine is mercury glass; it’s a great way to add a bit of glam to the mix without taking it to the max and its frosty sophistication pairs well with a number of colour schemes and décor styles.

West Elm is a great source for mercury glass items from votives to vases and all at a terrific price point. Their votive candleholders come in a range of shapes and textures and would look stunning scattered down the centre of an all-white table accented with soft pinks or icy blues. For a real wow factor, adding a couple of their silver Manzanita Candelabras to the mix would yield nothing short of a winter wonderland — all within the confines of your dining table.

Another fun option that’s readily available right now (and also scores high on the subtlety scale) is capiz shell. Far from beachy in a holiday setting, this lustrous material looks gorgeous in candlelight and pairs beautifully with other, earthier textures like heavy linen or felted wool. Pier 1 has always been a great source of capiz goods in both natural white and dyed hues such as holiday red. Their Scalloped Capiz Placemat is like a minimalist snowflake, the perfect landing spot for a plateful of holiday indulgence. However, if this pearlescent ode to glamour isn’t quite up to par for your party, consider adding one of their accent pieces to the mix, such as the Beaded Glitz Table Runner. It will be as if the ghost of Liberace himself had joined you at the table…

Linens are also a fantastic way to dress a table and Pottery Barn is always a good resource for festive fare; their playful take on traditional style is sure to please in this, our most tradition-laden of seasons. I’m not entirely sure how plaid cornered the market as a go-to print for the holidays but it’s tried and true. Williams-Sonoma’s Forest Tartan series provides beautiful options for a festive meal as well as plenty of opportunity to play with non-traditional colour schemes. Try it with cobalt glass stemware and brass flatware — a stunning combination.

If it’s a Scandi vibe you crave, their Alpine Toile series dishes up a classic red stag-and-forest motif on a white background, which would look stunning with rustic white crockery and chunky silverware, accented with simple white pillar candles. For added flair, Pottery Barn’s Antler Handled Serving Tray or Serve Bowl are the perfect, witty accompaniments. Feeling even more playful? Their Caroline Paisley in predominant reds and greens offers a fresh approach to a centuries-old pattern, superb with mismatched old-school china and arrangements of cut amaryllis for a heady dose new-meets-old-world chic.

Of course, once bellies are full it’s always nice to have somewhere cozy to retreat — and there’s no reason other parts of the house should be left out. Although there’s no need to go holiday-mad with decorations, a nod to the season is always a welcome touch. Crate & Barrel has a wonderful selection of items designed to delight but not overwhelm and their throw cushions are a great way to toss in some yuletide style without breaking the bank. Some of their stand-out choices include the Dasher 18” red Reindeer Pillow, the Polar Bear 23” holiday Pillow and the 18” Holiday Snowman pillow. Of course, no post-nosh nestling would be complete without a sumptuous throw and West Elm has plenty with style to spare. I particularly like the Faux Fur Seal Ombre model, a cruelty-free yet cozy option perfect for the season of good will towards all.

However you choose to celebrate, I hope you do so safely and with style; there’s a whole new year ahead waiting for all of us. Season’s greetings!

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