Impress your guests with a warm and inviting space this holiday season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And while I can’t wait to get a head start on all of my traditional holiday activities, the first place my mind goes is decor. Decorating for Christmas is my favourite. It signals luxe, rich hues and cozy, inviting accents. I love that homes always feel full and warm around Christmas. And if you’re an avid hostess like me, that means starting to map out your Christmas dinner tablescape.

Today I’ll share my tips on how to create an elevated setting to host in over the holidays that will have all of your family and friends buzzing well into the new year...

 

1. Think in themes

themesWarin Marie PhotographyIt can be challenging to maintain your personal style when it comes to Christmas. One minute you have a vision of crisp winter whites, and the next you find yourself surrounded by a sea of red and green tartan.

I always like to start my planning by choosing a theme and colour palette. This keeps me on track when selecting everything from place settings to florals. This year, I chose the word "elegance" to guide me, incorporating rich hues of cream, greens, reds and burgundies with gold accents.

The tree is always my favourite place to kick off the decorating process. It sets the tone for the rest of the living spaces and serves as a focal point (not to mention we always have such a good time doing it—cue rum and eggnog!).

I like to create consistency to tie our adjoining rooms together. To do this, with the help of Maple Ridge Florist, we added a small tree to the mirrored nook in our dining room which echoed our larger tree in the living room. We also brought in elements that can be found on the tree throughout the dining room, such as matching ornaments on the table settings and sprigs of fir on the dining room table. This can be a great way to create a theme throughout the house on a budget. Grab some seasonal bits from the garden, ornaments you already have, and disperse them throughout the house on consoles, side and coffee tables, and in the dining area.

Another exciting update I recently made to our living spaces was drapery. We had beautiful custom drapery installed by Stylit Window Design who did such an amazing job. Our new drapes instantly brightened up the room and gave our living and dining rooms a dreamy feeling. Carmen from Stylit Window Designs says it best herself: “Drapery helps soften any room and creates that warm and cozy feeling.” The antique gold metal rods and airy cotton drapes fit in seamlessly with my holiday theme and I can’t imagine our spaces without them.

 

2. Tablescape time

tableWarin Marie PhotographyOnce I’ve decided on a theme, it’s time to start thinking about the tablescape. With the help of Maple Ridge Florist, we were able to create a beautiful floral centrepiece. I like to start with a slightly taller centrepiece and then work my way out. To create depth and levels we bookended the centrepiece with classic chandelier-style candles that make a statement but don’t obstruct your view of the person sitting across from you. We also incorporated lots of greenery and festive berries to emulate the tree’s palette.

Valley Weddings helped me to create a timeless yet contemporary tablescape. With gold as our accent, we included it in the charger plates, cutlery and dishware rims. We chose to forgo placemats, which expose more of the table and gives the entire setting a more rustic feel. All of this was tied together with luxe burgundy napkins, semi-opaque burgundy glassware and little sprigs of greenery on each setting.

All the dishes, flatware and beautiful gold cutlery were provided by Bed Bath and Beyond. To complete the picture, I used a template found on Etsy to create the menus, which always elevates the setting and is sure to garner compliments.

No holiday gathering of mine is ever complete without a kids table. I love creating a space for the kids to be social and enjoy themselves while the adults catch up. We set out lots of craft supplies for the little ones to keep busy with, like Mason jars of pencil crayons, Play-Doh and gingerbread-building supplies. We then brought the table together with festive pillows, champagne-coloured glitter trees and peppermint candy in glass Mason jars. While the kids table isn’t meant to be the focus of the dining room, it always attracts lots of attention and gets the kids so excited.

room with tableWarin Marie Photography

 

3. Bon appétit

turkeyBetter Sweet PhotographyPreparing Christmas dinner can be the most daunting task of all—it’s all about timing. While everything else can be prepped well in advance, there’s only so much you can do ahead of time when it comes to the big meal. That being said, I always find the meal to be the most rewarding part of hosting.

To make life a little easier on myself, I do all my grocery shopping at Real Canadian Superstore. Their PC Express service is my go-to because I can order all my groceries online. No lineups and endless browsing through aisles of busy shoppers. I find it hard to imagine how I ever shopped before.

I love providing plant-based options for my guests and having an alternative to your usual meat-and-cheese charcuterie seemed like the perfect place to do it. We had our vegan charcuterie board made by The Daily Palette along with some of their new dips and sauces. One less thing to prepare myself? I’m on board! I loved ours so much that I reached out to the Daily Palette for tips on how to recreate the perfect holiday board yourself...

charcuterieWarin Marie Photography

Variety is key

Have a selection of dips with different bases—a variety of colours and flavours will turn a basic nourish board into a showstopper. When it comes to cheese, base your portions on 1 to 2 ounces per person—think flavours and textures—add in a plant-based nut cheese for guests who are vegan or who have an allergy to dairy. Be sure to add in tons of local goodies such as olives, ferments, artisan crackers and fresh baked breads.

It’s all in the arrangement

Organize your board by placing the dips and cheeses first. Start surrounding them with accompaniments that make sense. For example, apples near the date caramel. Be sure to keep the dry goods away from ones that give off moisture. Small bits of each item spread throughout your board, rather than large clumps, make for a more aesthetically pleasing look.

Work with the season

Include fresh local produce and work with what is ripe and full of nutrients. For example, pomegranates and figs in the winter season—beautiful and tasty!

Add a touch of something sweet

We like to add in our salted date caramel and chia jam paired with local preserves and chocolates.

Design brings it to life

Choose a colour scheme and use a pretty platter that suits your event. Add in seasonal florals and foliage to really make your board pop. To finish it off, garnish your dips with fresh herbs and dehydrated fruits.

 

And for dessert...

gingerbread houseWarin Marie PhotographyTo satisfy my sweet tooth, I had Nicole from Butter and Botanicals create a beautiful gingerbread house. It was so adorable, festive and personal. Complete with gingerbread cookies to represent myself, my husband Gary and our son Pierce, these made our hearts melt (and our mouths water!). The gingerbread setting tied in perfectly with our miniature tree and served as a little holiday vignette in our dining room.cookiesWarin Marie Photography

Hosting around the holidays can create a lot of pressure, but can also a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity to express your sense of style in the home while injecting a touch of elegance and festivity. Most of all, it’s an amazing chance to gather all the people you love most under one roof. Hopefully my guide has given you some inspiration for your holiday theme and some incentive to jump-start the season. Happy holidays!