Elegant and Easy Holiday Tablescape

A pink color palette with touches of metallics tie antique pieces together with contemporary accessories

Set with antique Limoges, silver monogrammed napkin rings and contemporary glasses, each place setting is centered on vintage Florentine trays.

The holidays are a time for creating elegant, gorgeous table settings with your finest antique dishes, silver and linens that are as magical as the holiday itself. Create a holiday tabletop with a fresh, inspired look that reflects you and your style.

Mixing your antique pieces with contemporary prints or accessories adds a little twist on the traditional. The juxtaposition of old with new, and casual with formal makes any table more visually interesting and personal.

Metallic touches in gold and silver tie the mismatched antique china patterns together for this sophisticated holiday table.

Whether you’re hosting family or guests for formal or informal meals, learn how to set an elegant yet modern table that mixes contemporary and antique elements that share a common thread. It can be color, shape or a theme that ties all your pieces together on your table. These tips will inspire a romantic holiday table that you and your guests will enjoy.

A collection of antique porcelain dishes in mixed patterns all come together at each place setting, echoing the colors of the centerpiece.
  1. Set the Stage. A table setting should be as diverse as your guest list, with layer upon layer of interest. While a white antique linen cloth is a classic base, using antique fabric, a bedspread or an antique linen bed sheet can add a touch of drama. Don’t be afraid to use something out of the ordinary to make your setting feel fresh, like a runner that is actually a remnant of designer wallpaper. The holidays are the time to be bold.
  2. Make Your Centerpiece the Star. It’s easy to create luxurious floral arrangements like a pro—just use arrangements of the same flowers in several vases of different heights. When you use a large quantity of the same flower, your arrangements will look luxurious. Sprinkle in a good amount of greens, and your table will literally come to life. A well thought-out centerpiece will unify and pump up the volume of your table’s theme.
  3. Mix Patterns. Combining your antique dishes with new pieces is a great way to refresh your tabletop. Choose similar tones, and pay attention to which plates are placed next to each other, pairing bold patterns with simpler designs to create balance. Add contemporary flatware to your table setting to update antique china, or use mismatched antique silver flatware for a dose of personality at each place setting. Use your collections; they’re meant to be enjoyed.
  4. Create Sparkle: Candles lend a warm, flattering glow to your table. They’re sure to bring a little romance and relaxed elegance to your meal. Place unscented candles and votives near shiny objects to create a sparkling effect.
  5. Get Personal. Don’t be afraid to add charming, personal favorite things to your tabletop. The prettier and more interesting your table feels, the more guests will enjoy their dining experience. Thinking outside the box, use objets d’art interspersed with flowers and candles for a centerpiece that will get conversations started. Antique accents add the softness of age and a richness of spirit. Mixing the old with the new, bring things to your table that tell a story and have history. Adding something a little quirky to your table will make it more appealing every time.

Designing a stunning holiday table is a gift from you to your guests. Use what you love, and make it work. Set your table with items that are special to you and unexpected touches to create a holiday to remember.

For more on Lidy, visit frenchgardenhouse.com.

How to Blend Faux and Fresh Greenery

Get the best of both worlds for your holiday decor.

Gay’s canine companion, Riley, enjoys the front porch decor.

The traditions of yesteryear included a freshly-cut Christmas tree and boughs of holly brought into the home a few days before Santa was to descend the chimney. Today, reproduction trees and greens are so life-like we are tempted to deck the halls with them soon after the last of the pumpkin pie has been devoured. But doing so leaves little opportunity to display and enjoy the bountiful fresh greenery of the season.

It’s easy to have the best of both worlds, though. You can decorate early with faux greens and incorporate fresh seasonal foliage into your Christmas collections for a cheery holiday look. Here’s how:

  • During the first week of December, take a walk to your local park or bike path with a large basket or tote. Gather all the greenery you can find, bring it home to soak in a large bucket filled with water. Keep it in a cool spot (garage or basement) until you’re ready to use it.

    Tuck fresh sprigs into stockings
  • Tie small green bundles together with festive ribbon, and tuck them into your stockings hung by the chimney, add them to doorknobs, and use them as embellishments on all your Christmas décor throughout the home.

    Ice skates make a unique, winter themed display.
  • Tie sprigs of aromatic pine branches into your faux wreaths and stairway greens near the front door. The breeze that comes in when the door is opened will fill your home with the fresh aroma of the Christmas. 
  • Always use small branches so that when they need to be replenished you won’t have to redo the entire display.

A little bit of greenery goes a long way in making your home feel merry and bright for the holidays. For a warm and welcoming Christmas style, bring in the colors, textures and beauty of the season.

For more on Gay Van Beek, visit canterburycottagedesigns.com.

4 Tips for a Creative and Cozy Christmas Look

Jenni Holmes blends high contrast neutrals and metallics, abundant greenery and personal touches for a cozy Christmas look.

Simple décor and textures enhance an understated and elegant holiday look. Copper, brass and gold metallic finishes, as well as green garlands and wreaths, add to the aesthetic.

The holiday décor of this home in Williamsburg, Virginia, is a perfect balance of charming, cozy and elegant. It belongs to Jenni Holmes of the Dear Lillie Studio, her husband, Jonathan, and their two daughters Lillian and Lorelei. Her style shows that you don’t need a total makeover to create a little holiday magic. Use these tips to inspire you to make your home feel festive and nostalgic with an effortless flair.

  1. Neutral

“My overall style is traditional with a little bit of a twist,” Jenni explains. To keep her look versatile from season to season and year to year, she sticks with a neutral and monochromatic color scheme. “Most rooms have a relatively neutral base with creams, grays, blacks, navy or chocolate brown, so I can easily mix things up seasonally. If I want to bring in different colors for Christmas, summer or fall, it’s easy to do that.”

Gold may be glamorous, but the fact that it looks lovely with just about any other color makes it an adaptable and easy neutral, no matter the season.

Accessories with bronze, brass or gold trim details not only look on-trend, but they can also create a Christmas look in an instant when combined with gold ball ornaments and handmade wreaths.

Greenery doesn’t necessarily have to be real. “If you find something that looks real, snag it,” Jenni says. “It lasts forever and is worth it.”
  1. Natural

A simple way to make any home feel merry and bright for the holidays? Just add greenery and natural branches and twigs, fresh or faux. “A lot of the time I’ll use clippings from outside. I’ll find branches and berries and just layer them in,” Jenni says.

Dark walls create a cozy atmosphere in the bedroom. Jenni layers crisp, bright white into the space for high contrast.

For Jenni, this also means fresh roses, which are a tried and true way to add a romantic ambience. “Around the holidays you usually can’t get a lot of fresh flowers, but no matter what your holiday color scheme is, roses look pretty,” she says. “If you stick with one color and cluster them together, it makes a statement.”

A pair of vintage wooden skis add wintery flair to a corner in the dining room.
  1. Collected

Casual, but with an elevated personality, Jenni’s home feels warm and inviting through the use of sophisticated furnishings with comfortable textures, metal accessories and dark neutral colors. A mix of hand-me-down antiques and vintage-style furniture creates a collected and approachable ambiance.

Jenni’s white sofa pops against the deep gray walls where a plush tartan deer head is mounted with a fest wreath. A pair of vintage snow shoes rest in the corner.

Finding the right pieces is key to creating a livable look, whether it’s an heirloom mirror handed down from Jenni’s great-great-grandmother, vintage skis or sleds, or a new-but-made-to-look-antique dresser.

“We just like it to be a welcoming place so that when people walk in and it’s decorated [for Christmas], it makes you feel right at home,” Jenni says.

  1. Crafty

Lastly, what’s a surefire way to personalize your home for the holidays? Jenni insists on adding homespun decorations for a family-friendly and sentimental touch. “There are so many ways to make it look and feel ‘holiday’; you don’t have to buy your decorations at the store,” Jenni says. “You could make gingerbread men and string them onto ornaments. You can string popcorn or cranberries on a garland—those are some of my favorite memories. You could just make a few things and make it feel special.”

A Whimsical Winter

This whimsical winter wonderland is every bit as enchanting as your favorite holiday fairy tales.

Susan Daggett of Kindred Vintage brings winter whimsey to her living room
Winter whimsey is evident throughout Susan’s home, particularly in the living room where a flocked tree glitters and the stockings are hung with care from a length of driftwood.

People dream of creating a whimsical winter wonderland inside their home at Christmas time.  And year after year, Susan Daggett, owner of Kindred Vintage Co., dives into her holiday decorating right after Thanksgiving to create a charming scene that you would imagine belongs in a Christmas storybook.

Her 1926 vintage brick bungalow, which she and her husband completely renovated, gets decorated from head to toe in garlands and baubles, with several flocked Christmas trees placed throughout the house. “We decorate every little nook and cranny here when it comes to Christmas,” Susan says. “I try to make it as whimsical as possible.” Here’s how she does it.

Sliding barn doors, natural wood finishes and a charming sign create a cozy farmhouse feeling.
Sliding barn doors, natural wood finishes and a charming sign create a cozy farmhouse feeling.

Dreamy Décor

Putting a personal spin on her Christmas décor, Susan varies her color palette and theme every year, adding in textures and sweet details that give her farmhouse style a magical touch.

“I wanted to bring in pops of color that aren’t traditional Christmas colors—like hot pink and teal—and blend them with traditional Christmas décor,” Susan says. “I brought in flocked trees, furs, textures and pops of color that give it a different look. I love mixing vintage with new things.”

Chunky knits and faux fur stockings alternate on their driftwood display.
Chunky knits and faux fur stockings alternate on their driftwood display. These bold textures provide visual interest to otherwise neutrally colored objects.

Her fireplace mantel couldn’t hold stockings using traditional hangers, so she came up with a better solution. “I found driftwood in the lake, and we ended up bolting that to the mantel to hang the stockings,” she says. Of course, she strung up an eclectic mix of faux-fur and cable-knit stockings and embellished them with a colorful felt garland and feathers for a quirky touch. Crystal chandeliers adorn each room for a little glamour. A wall of vintage mirrors in the dining room is an eye-catching focal point that people notice when they visit.

The dining table was a refurbished barn table. An antique church pew and Tolix metal chairs create an eclectic seating arrangement.
Look closely and you’ll see rose gold hues and tiny pink details. The dining table was a refurbished barn table. An antique church pew and Tolix metal chairs create an eclectic seating arrangement.

Just Add Magic

Floral wallpaper patterns cover many of the walls, and at Christmastime they take on a different personality, lending whimsy to the entire scene. In her two daughters’ playroom, for example, the woodland-themed wallpaper design feels right at home with the kid-friendly Christmas tree festooned with old-fashioned ball ornaments and a vintage toy car beside it. During the holidays, Susan says, “that tree is lit up the entire time.”

A fairy-tale woodland inspired mural adds whimsy to the playroom.
A fairy-tale woodland inspired mural adds whimsy to the playroom.

Family traditions are important to Susan’s family, as she and her husband wrap 25 books as gifts for their daughters each year, and they unwrap and read them together, one by one each night, as they count down to Christmas.

Making their home feel magical this time of year is something Susan hopes to instill in her daughters as she reflects on memories of her own mother putting her in charge of decorating various trees throughout her childhood home. “I think that’s something I got from my mom,” Susan says, “so it’s always stuck with me.”

I’ll Have A (Beautiful) Blue Christmas

Marian Parsons, aka "Miss Mustard Seed," uses natural greenery and homemade pieces to keep her year-round color palette looking festive for Christmas.

Marian hangs a handmade pom-pom garland on a vintage upside-down screened door.

If you’re already starting to stress about the holidays, do away with an explosion of Christmas décor in your home and, instead, opt for a simpler and more relaxed look. Blogger Marian Parsons of Miss Mustard Seed skillfully exemplifies this concept in her former Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, home, which she filled with simple touches that infuse the home with the holiday spirit. “I don’t like to decorate for the holidays in a way that’s fussy or in your face,” says Marian. “I like to add hints of the season through fresh greenery and handmade touches.”

Marian mixed a custom shade of blue from colors in her milk paint line for this step-back hutch. Festive touches such as the wool pom-pom wreath and the small fir tree in a crock bring Christmas to the living room.

Dreaming of a Blue and White Christmas

You would think Marian, a highly admired paint enthusiast, has always possessed the skills to make her Christmas vision a reality, but like everyone else, she’s struggled with creating the right holiday look. “I’m a blue-and-white girl, and for a long time I felt like I didn’t have permission to stray from red and green for Christmas,” she says. “After several years, I started to see articles with surprising holiday palettes, and I finally felt the freedom to do something different.”

How Lovely Are Your Branches

Marian’s blue-and-white color palette remains prominent during Christmas, with natural accents used to bring a festive feel to the home’s year-round look. “I like to keep things simple and natural,” she says. “I love tucking fresh greenery into chandeliers and on top of tall pieces of furniture, as fresh greenery is always in style.”

The chippy finish of this antique cabinet adds character to family room.
Simple and pretty is how Marian describes her family room décor.

Varieties of juniper, pine, fir, spruce, eucalyptus and bay leaves make up Marian’s greenery supply. “I like to use a mix,” she says. “I find as many varieties as I can, because some are feathery, some have needles; and they can have a yellow, blue or green tint.” She prefers live greenery over faux, as it provides a more authentic look, and it’s “so much prettier up close.”

She also includes trees in a few of her rooms, to accompany the loose garlands and branches. As her ceilings are high in the family room, she gets as big a tree as she can find and decorates it with felt garlands, jingle bells and any other ornaments she chooses. In the living room, however, she has a small fir tree that is decorated in felt-star garlands and small handmade grain-sack ornaments.

Holiday baking is the kitchen’s theme during Christmas, with freshly baked cookies on the table and a “Gingerbread Baking Co.” sign by Ella Clare.

Handmade Holiday

Perhaps the sweetest parts of Marian’s home are the homemade touches that make her holiday look customized and personal. “I like pieces that are unique and that have a handmade feel to them,” she says.

This cloche contains a miniature vignette which includes a gingerbread house, an antique cast iron toy cow, fresh greenery and a bottle brush tree.

Every year, Marian makes gingerbread cookies and houses, and scatters them around the house for something that looks and smells good. Some of her houses are displayed in cloches or on cake stands, and some of her cookies are hung as garlands. Marian also loves to decorate with wool pom-poms. Some of them are hung as garlands, and others are tied around lamps or made into wreaths. “It’s a reference to snow balls,” she says.

Handmade accents add a personal touch to holiday decor.

Having a handmade touch doesn’t mean you have to make all the décor yourself. Marian enlisted the help of her friend Ann Drake from the blog On Sutton Place to bring charming touches to her home, including her stocking Advent calendar and grain-sack star ornaments. “I sent her all my grain-sack fabric scraps, and she made 24 stockings for me that I tied onto a piece of twine,” says Marian. There’s never a better time to get creative with friends than during the holidays.

Woodland Glam: Rustic Comfort Meets Enchanting Elegance

Rustic finishes and shimmering accents combine to create a holiday look that is comfortable and elegantly enchanting.

Blue and white Christmas family room
Deck the halls in neutral colors. Add of touch of rustic nature with some greenery like the garland on the banister.

What could be more enchanting than a winter wonderland? As the days grow shorter and snowflakes fall in frosty gusts, many of us start dreaming of a white Christmas. Childhood reveries help make the holiday special. And for interior designer and blogger Breanne Doucette of Rooms for Rent, decorating her New England home every Christmas means awakening her children’s imaginations.

“I want to set the stage for my children, so they’ll love the holiday as much as I do,” she says. Breanne still remembers what it felt like to be a kid at Christmas, she says, describing the magic of the season and how decorated pine trees transformed her parents’ house into a winter fantasyland.

silver and blue holiday tablescape
Beautiful blue glassware is paired with white candlesticks and mercury glass trees. Boughs of fir and pine capture the rustic vibe, now elevated to a Christmas elegance by the shimmering silvery pieces.

Today, Christmas magic and wild forests mix in her home, where pine trees covered in glittering icicles beckon tiny feet into dreams of forests full of snowflakes and shimmering silver.

To set the scene, Breanne places several pieces of décor at various eye levels, so her children, a six- and an eight-year-old, can enjoy dreams of “woodland glam” and “rustic elegance.” She hopes her children will be inspired to carry on similar Christmas traditions.

Cozy Christmas white holiday living room decor
This wooden chest is a family heirloom made by Breanne’s husband’s grandfather. On top rests a faux fur throw and tray containing a two of the room’s many mercury glass trees.

Rustic Shimmer

“I wanted the holiday feel without the traditional red and green,” Breanne says. “But everything I use stems from tradition.” She mixed vintage mercury glass and shiny metallics with soft furs, throwing in other natural elements like deer antlers and tree bark to highlight and play with texture.

Breanne wanted a special kind of Christmas elegance. Drawing inspiration from old Christmas movies in which everyone still dressed up for Christmas, she wanted her home to appeal to guests too. “When decorating, I’m always thinking about how I’ll entertain.”

Mercury glass tree holiday vignette
Miniature mercury glass Christmas trees are a favorite motif in Breanne’s holiday decor.

Originally, Breanne’s style relied on white, and she added touches of gray and brown to round out the shade. But these all seemed to fall flat. To soften the setting, she infused her décor with elements of iceberg blue.

Blue velvet throw pillows add nuance to the living room’s pale white couch. The elegant blue hues polish the more rustic pieces, adding charm and sparkle to the otherwise rustic scene.

Christmas entryway with stockings hung on the stairs
A bench layered with pillows and a cozy throw make for a warm welcome in Breanne’s entryway.

Wintery Elements

“Focus on the details,” she says, because balance is key. Too many natural elements can make a room too rustic. Breanne explains she will sometimes add pieces, leave the room and then return to gauge how everything fits together. “It’s a pieced together look,” she says, relying on focal points to capture guest attention. “Everything has a place, and it is all about figuring that out.”

The best decorations can last throughout the winter season. Fur throws are perfect for combatting the cold elements and also creating a comfy Christmas feel. They can stay in place well into January and beyond.

Flexible décor such as evergreen garlands, gleaming votives, and silver and gold candles are elegant and versatile. Best of all, packing up after Christmas is made so much simpler. “I don’t have to take away everything all at once.” Plus her children and guests can enjoy their Christmas dreams a little longer.

A Wintery Woodland Inspired Holiday Home

Several Christmas trees, freshly scented greenery and other natural elements turn this home into a woodland wonder.

A blanket of snow creates a charming scene in Kristen Whitby's backyard.
Snow blankets Kristen’s Idaho home. With lovely wreaths hanging on the shed doors, Christmas cheer can touch about everything!

With dazzling arrays of lights and decorations, the Christmas tree is the statement piece of many a living room during the holidays. But for Kristen Whitby—blogger, stylist and interior designer behind Ella Claire Inspired—quite a few Christmas trees twinkle throughout her Idaho home.

They shimmer in her children’s playroom, the master bedroom and, of course, the family room. They even brighten the children’s bedrooms, where mini faux saplings glisten in anticipation of Santa’s arrival. Here’s how Kristen decorates her home with personal flair for the holidays.

A flocked Christmas tree gives the bedroom a cozy woodland feel.
Bare wood furniture appears throughout the house, but nowhere more cozily than in the home’s master bedroom. Plush duvet covers pair well with the woodland elements. Completing the look, pictures of singing birds and faux furs help create the room’s woodland charm. Adding natural elements like these, Kristen says, makes Christmas decorating fun and simple.

Woodland Charm

Kristen’s trees offer an enchanted, woodland feel at Christmas, a look she has admired ever since she can remember. As a child, she used to visit homes illuminated with similar charms. And even though she selects faux trees for their longevity—she likes to keep her trees up somewhat beyond the new year—she prefers homey and classic elements.

The faux Christmas tree will last a long time and the fresh garland provides a lovely scent.
In her Christmas decor, Kristen choses to have the best of both worlds. Rich, fresh scent from her natural garlands and longevity from her faux trees.

“Faux trees can get too fancy sometimes, but natural elements help tone it down,” Kristen says. When first crafting her look, she was quick to juxtapose vintage mercury-glass ornaments with red berries. Kirsten says natural elements help harmonize the neutrals and whites of the family room.

“My trees evolved over the years. The red berries matched and coordinated well with my red pillows.” Tying the family room together, pops of red pepper the entire room, from the couches to the Christmas dinner display. “The feeling of Christmas is added with the color red,” she says.

Gingerbread houses are nestled in apothecary jars like snow globe scenes for the tabletop.
Gingerbread houses are nestled in apothecary jars like snow globe scenes for the tabletop.
The kid's room features a patriotic tree
This patriotic tree glitters in the children’s playroom. Vintage accents give it a timeless charm.

Christmas Arrangements

Sprinklings of red berries also add texture to the space and charm to nearly every bough. “It’s like a giant flower arrangement,” Kristen says of her Christmas trees. Like bouquets, the trees change depending on the extra pieces added. “I like to balance the interest with different heights that change from year to year.” Even changing the ribbon can affect the feel of a tree. “Plus, it’s an inexpensive way to redecorate.”

A special tree full of children’s toys is the sweetest and most endearing in her collection. Guests always ask how she is able to keep her trees, especially this one, free from tiny hands. But Kristen insists that everyone should enjoy the festive cheer, especially her three children. “My daughter likes to decorate her own tree. Then, she’ll take it all down and redecorate it, adding new things just for fun,” she laughs.

Shelves hold boxes for storage
Kristen purchased boxes and made a few visual adjustments to get the look here. The sideboard below makes a gift wrap station.

Family Time

Kristen says everyone wanting a similar look should try to keep things simple. “I like using textures and different layers of white.” Having a neutral background, she says, is a great way to save on holiday splendor. Adding pops of color and switching things in and out can be done quite easily with her aesthetic.

Holiday porch with antique sled and chalkboard sign
Beautiful script in chalk captures the spirit of Christmas. An antique sled and upcycled cabinet door stand at attention while greeting guests at the front door.

Try to ready your home well in advance, she suggests. That way, you will have time to play around with texture and color. If you decorate your tree like you would arrange a bouquet of flowers, you will then have time to achieve the perfect Christmas arrangement, making sure the various heights are dynamic and balanced. “Use recipes and decorations that you love, but don’t overthink your holiday entertaining. Really try to enjoy the season with your friends and family.”

Should You Buy a Real Tree or a Fake Tree?

Here are the ins and outs you need to know to make the best decision this year for you and your family.  

Blogger Shonee Smith of Hawthorne and Main chose flocked branches for a wintery ambiance. Once decorated with lights, ornaments and other accents, it can be difficult to tell by sight whether a tree is real or fake.

Set up and Storage

Live trees can be a pain to bring home, get through the front door and set up. Faux trees, however, are convenient to set up. They usually come in sections that are easy to assemble, and you can often get pre-lit models that save you from untangling all those lights every year. If you don’t have much storage space, though, you may want to go with a live tree, as you’ll have to store a faux tree for the other 11 months of the year.


A high-quality faux tree can be expensive, ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. You’ll spend less on a live tree, only $100–$200, but over the years, those $100 purchases will add up. Most artificial trees last 5–7 years, so depending on the quality of the artificial tree, live trees may still be more cost effective in the long run.

Mess and Smell

Real trees are messy as they die and drop their needles, a problem you won’t have with a faux tree. Artificial tree don’t shed or require maintenance. The smell is also a consideration—if you get sniffles every year when you bring in a real tree, you may be allergic to pines. On the other hand, a real tree brings that heavenly pine scent that faux trees lack.


It seems like cutting down thousands of evergreens each year would be bad for the environment, but many argue the opposite. Faux trees contain synthetic materials that have a higher environmental footprint than live trees. Also, because of the demand for Christmas trees, the US has approximately 350 million Christmas trees growing on tree farms, which provides additional habitats for animals and agricultural growth in the US.


Victoria Van Vlear is the editor for American Farmhouse Style Magazine, where this article was originally published. For more home-grown inspiration, follow on Facebook and Instagram.


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