A Feast for the Eyes

02 Dec 2023

Up your holiday entertaining game with a festive tablescape


Food is often the focus of any holiday gathering, but before your guests even take a bite you can set the mood with a memorable tablescape that takes your event from standard to stunning.

“A tablescape can be the focal point of a party,” said Rebecca McCracken, manager of The Summer House (www.summerhousehighlands.com), a home-furnishings complex located at 2089 Dillard Road in Highlands. “It’s a great way to add a little bit of design without having to redecorate your entire house. It’s a fun way to freshen things up and keep it in season.”

Some people choose to start their tablescape with a festive centerpiece and work around it, McCracken said. It’s a good idea to decide early on whether you want to go with a simple tablescape or sprawling design that fills the table, keeping practical considerations in mind, she added.

“Keeping it minimal may be your style preference, but it allows for serving pieces to be on the table as well,” McCracken said.

Once you have the main ideas and elements in place, you can begin selecting place settings, glassware and other items to tie everything together.

“This is fun for customers to play around with,” McCracken said. “I always suggest that they pick out classic pieces they love because if you love it, you will love it for a long time and find ways to dress it up throughout the year. We try at The Summer House to always give our customers ideas for how to design their tables in their home for every day and for seasons.”

A tablescape can get much of its “personality” from dinnerware. While some people opt for solid colors that can be dressed up with accessories, others may opt for plates in patterns to make bold statements at the table.

“As a buyer, I think it’s so fun to find something new and fresh, especially in the dinnerware realm because that’s where customers can change things up,” McCracken said.

She recently created a traditional rustic holiday tablescape with plates featuring a deer in a forest pattern paired with twig flatware and etched pinecone glasses. The place setting is complemented by pinecone table runners, green placemats, green-and-white plaid napkins and a Vietri vase with pinecones and ferns. Those who want to impart more festive colors can swap the green placemats for red or pop some red berries into a centerpiece, McCracken said.

If you need some tablescape inspiration, The Summer House has several they have already curated as well as a full inventory of specialty tabletop items you can shop to create your own. The store has had holiday décor on display since Labor Day and features a back room fully decorated for Christmas. The idea is to make it easy for customers to visualize how the items will look in their homes, McCracken said.

The Summer House has been a fixture in Highlands since 1996, when Paula and Barry Jones moved their small retail storefront in Scaly Mountain to 35 acres of an old apple orchard to create the retail destination that exists today. The business is a whole-house concept that features a variety of showrooms decorated into vignettes that can transfer directly into customers’ own spaces.

While a visit to The Summer House may be exactly what you need to craft your perfect holiday tablescape, these expert tips may offer some additional guidance:

  • Vary heights: Add some dimension and asymmetry with a combination of short and tall items.
  • Mix up textures: Appeal to your guests’ sense of touch with pieces that offer a variety of finishes.
  • Decorate your place settings: Use place cards or ornaments to add a personal touch.
  • Don’t forget a few fun items: Give your guests a little surprise with something unexpected, such as animal figurines or other whimsical elements.

If food plays the leading role at your festivities, think of your tablescape as the stage. It creates the atmosphere for the meal about to be consumed and the memories to be made.

The main thing is to enjoy the togetherness of the holidays, and making your space special is a great way to create a warm environment for your loved ones, McCracken said.

“My favorite part of entertaining is the decorating,” she said. “Bringing in the little details is what really ties a space together. Creating an inviting table makes all your family and friends feel at home, and I want everyone to be comfortable at my table.”

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