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Mix and Mingle Your Best Collections for a Fabulous Setting
By Shirley Barr

Whether you are entertaining with a formal sit-down dinner with your best china and crystal or hosting a casual muffin bash with mixed coffee mugs just for gal pals, your house is on parade. Get your creative juices flowing with tablescaping.

The first engaging tablescape I saw was a holiday dining table at Cornelius Nursery Interiors where lime green plates were topped with red napkins tied with faux artichokes. Tall festive glass vases filled with glittering leaves flanked a toy rocking horse festooned with Christmas ribbons and berries.

Kay Stephens, Cornelius Nursery Interiors manager, says holiday tablescapes usually work best with a theme — perhaps one that matches your Christmas tree — and an unexpected showpiece like a vintage toy or a real Thanksgiving pumpkin with a topper of vivid wired ribbons in mixed fall colors. Her other tips include:

• Don’t be afraid to mix plates and cups from different sets of dishes, as long as the tones blend or complement.
• People love favors, especially if they are functional or edible. Consider small, framed photos of each guest instead of place cards, or striped candy canes doubling as napkin rings tied with ribbon.
• Dress a table like you dress yourself. Start with something big, like a damask cloth or runner, and then add accessories that reflect your personality.
• Wreaths aren’t just for doors. Set that punch bowl in the middle of a fresh or faux holiday wreath at one end of your tablescape. Parade smaller wreaths up and down the table around festive candles…and don’t forget to light the candles before guests arrive.

The talented team at Bering’s brought inspiration to its Thanksgiving table with distinctive china, placemats and stemware by Juliska and added glorious clear-glass pumpkins by Simon Pearce, silver pumpkins by K&K Interiors piled in a woven basket and stately glass candlesticks by Abigail’s and Arte Italica. Wine stopper favors and tortoise napkin rings carry the autumn theme, punctuated with unexpected blue dinner plates.

For Christmas or Hannukah, Bering’s fun napkin ring tip is natural twine tying a sleighbell or a mega-glass tree ball favor with a simple “Enjoy!” gift tag. Bernardaud salad plates, Waterford stemware and SARO placemats and napkins keep the tablescape elegant.

For casual entertaining, focus on the surfaces of your coffee tables and side tables. Leave enough room to accommodate glasses and small plates or to display a combination of pottery, a stack of books with compelling book jackets or candles in varying heights.

Trayscapes let you group a few favorite things that would be too dainty standing alone. Kate Pernoud says people buy her Houston-made acrylic trays with European antique handles, but don’t wrap them. Customers gift them carrying a vase of flowers and small books or any fanciful addition.

No bar? Bring out your most elegant ice bucket, Waterford glasses and display them on a tray or stacks of books at different heights, says Bering’s experts. Add a fine scotch whiskey…and this may be the most popular trayscape at your holiday party.


The Accessory Place
Town & Country Village
12850 Memorial Drive

6102 Westheimer Road
3900 Bissonnet St.

Cornelius Nursery
2233 S. Voss Road

Events Gifts
1966 W. Gray St.

Jonathan Adler
2800 Kirby Drive
Suite 116

Kate Pernoud Designs

3912 Westheimer Road

Memorial Antiques & Interiors
The Houston Design Center

Houston Web Design Company