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How to Dress the Holiday Table for Impact

When dressing a holiday table with linens, dishware and any decor items it is vital to do so with purpose.  If you’ve ever prepared a fantastic turkey dinner which your guests normally love but wonder why they’ve barely touched the bountiful feast it could have something to do with the presentation.

Please look at each of the following pictures separately with your eyes in squint mode.

In the first picture you actually see the turkey.  In the second, the turkey, table, leaf decor, pie, wine, rolls and fruit basket all sort of blur together as similar colors.  There is nothing pretty or appetizing.

Via Better Homes & Gardens

Whether on a buffet or dinner the secret is to work the table like a movie. Every piece has a role to play and when combined they create a story.

  • Main course/dish = The Star
  • Side dishes = Co – Stars
  • Condiments = Supporting characters
  • Plates = background scenery
  • Table = supporting background
  • Decor = supporting background

You might be saying, Whaaaat?   But think about it, the food is the focal point and just like in a movie nobody overshadows the Star.  Oh I know the decor is fun – but it needs to be background.  Everything is there to support the Star or make the Star look better.  Guests do not like having to navigate a table full of fluff to get to the goods!

Why do you think housewares and kitchen stores are packed right now with white everything from dishes to serving pieces?  Plain boring white makes the food look better, it plays its role as a supporting background.  Click on Serveware for either Sur La Table or Crate & Barrel and the majority is white or clear glass.  Of course they sell all the cute color stuff too, because we buy it not because its the right choice.

Photo via Ideal Home

I love fancy decorative dishes and colorful table linens too but they have to work with the food being served not compete with it.  Is the dinner about the food or the plates or the decor?  At a holiday dinner the most important element at the table are the guests.  The food becomes the central focus which we all gather around.  Keep centerpieces and decorative elements minimal or remove before serving.  Treat your food like a star and nobody will leave hungry.

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