Returning to the Table

Making the case for dinner party entertaining during the Holidays

Story & Styled by Karin Jeffcoat, event stylist and floral designer of Côte Designs

Photography by Lauren Carnes

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As the holidays approach, my days and weekends become packed with styling and orchestrating one major holiday event after another.

When it comes to my own life and family, I feel overwhelmed with the idea of formal entertaining. The easy way out is to throw together a casual cocktail party and call it a day.  However, if you really want to make some lasting holiday memories, invite people to sit at your table!  Dining is intimate — it invites your guests to linger, to talk, to laugh, to love.

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Simple.  Intimate. Unexpected.

These three words describe my insider secrets for pulling off a truly memorable dining experience that doesn’t break the bank or your holiday spirit!

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Simple.

Design a menu that is simple, delicious, and easy to prepare.  Dining at table does not require formal service or hired help; you can incorporate the food onto the table as part of your tablescape, or set up a simple buffet on a sideboard in your main dining area.   Instead of elaborate centerpieces, get creative with fresh cut greenery and colorful fruits and vegetables.  Don’t worry about breaking the food or decorating rules – there aren’t any!

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Intimate.

Make these little soirées all about close friends and family.  Pull out all the stops … set out your grandmother’s china and those adorable holiday plates that you never use, maybe even the silver you hate to polish.  Create warmth with candles, little surprises at each plate, great background tunes, good alcohol, and most of all, your undivided attention!

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Unexpected.

This is a tricky element, but outside the box is what you’re looking for. You could  serve your guests in an unusual place in your home, like the enclosed sun porch.  Or perhaps an incredible Thanksgiving tablescape that suits your room’s color scheme – grey, aubergine, plum, and red – will incorporate eggplants, grapes, and pomegranates into your palette instead of pumpkins and mums.  Add an unconstructed piece of velvet with a mix of iron and pewter candlesticks to bring warmth to the occasion.

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Surprise your guests at the end of the dinner with dessert and a beautiful cordials bar filled with antique glasses.

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Above all, enjoy the beauty you create with the elements you choose, whether traditional or trendy, and keep in mind the goal of entertaining is to enjoy each other in a setting that is warm and comfortable.

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