December 11, 2013

Decorating with Holly for Christmas Dinner

Last week we had the team behind Relay Foods come back to the house to shoot the Holiday meal I'd been planning recipes and cooking for. We had such a good time setting up the table for the Thanksgiving shoot, we wanted to do it again, but with more of a Christmas feel to change things up. One note as you read this post — I am the cook and chief bottle washer. Mary, on the other hand, has the creative vision for table settings and design. I do the heavy lifting and photographing all the while letting her know, that looks really good hunny as the setting is created. We like the idea that our different strengths complement each-other so well, especially when it comes to things like this.

We love the idea of using natural elements as decor where possible, so we went out back and snipped a few nice sized branches from the holly tree, ripe with red berries.

After giving them a good shake, we brought them into the dining room and Mary began trimming up the branches into smaller, workable pieces with wisps of green leaves and little bundles of berries.

Note: If you have small children or pets around, keep in mind that holly leaves have sharp points on the leaves and holly berries can be toxic.

First up, we framed out the sideboard mantle and counter to make it look like garlands of holly:


It's pretty amazing how a few sprigs here and there can really transform the feel of a space. In prep for the shoot, we'd also pulled out the fine china and silver place settings to change up the table setting from the last spread and give it a little bit more of a formal touch for Christmas:

Next up, she carefully laid out the remaining sprigs across the center of the dining table, bushy in the middle and more sparse on the ends to make a natural holly runner.

We also pulled out the gold dipped mason jars we'd made for our wedding to add into the mix (find all the instructions for how to make these here).

A really simple way to create a holiday glow and instant ambiance is with floating tea lights. We filled up the jars to just underneath the gold paint edge with water, popped a tea light into each (they float!) and lit them on up:

There are so many ways you could use these floating tea light jars, but we loved the way they turned out with the touch of gold paired with the bright greenery and pops of red from the berries:

See how the tea lights float and flicker at the top of the water line inside the jar? Since they're floating, they keep that feeling of movement and illumination while lit:

It turned out to be a really simple way to pull together a holiday centerpiece and we're hoping to create either the same or something similar for our Christmas dinner.

So that's the story behind how we pulled together a little festive feel, completely using things we had around the house. You could change it up by using different greenery like pine, cedar, magnolia leaves or even pinecones. It could also be fun to just use different sized glasses and jars you have around the house to create an eclectic collection of the floating tea light jars.

Tomorrow Mary will spill all the details on the place settings she pulled together for this tablescape — how have you been decorating this year?

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  1. It looked so pretty. Mary did an awesome job! I'm going to use some of these ideas to decorate for the Christmas dinner I'm hosting. Starting with the napkins. :)

    1. Thank you Brittany! We enjoyed having you here this go round!


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