Each holiday seems to come with its predetermined palette: red and white for Valentine’s day, pure pastels for Easter, deep oranges for Thanksgiving, and, of course, the traditional red and green of Christmas. But the options widen considerably for those who value design as more than just a simple seasonal necessity—especially when setting a table for a family meal (which, for us at least, is usually the highlight of any holiday).
“People have a really different mindset this year because of COVID,” says Angela DiVincenti Babin of Angela Marie Events. “They’re thinking about when they were kids, and what their important memories were, especially because people can’t really travel or see relatives. They’re thinking of how they make things really stand out for their own households in an extra special way.”
Inspired by the jubilance of childhood, Babin once turned to a Candy Land-inspired color palettes for a Christmas table aimed toward kids and adults alike. Bright colors like fuchsia and red could always work as accents, she says, but with the right eye for color families and the right pops of complimentary hues, a mix of patterns can avoid looking gaudy and instead make for cheerful and unexpected décor.
“It’s all about balance,” she says. “With the accents—the stocking and the cookies and the candy canes—I wanted to add something fun that reminds people of Christmas morning. It’s childlike and happy, but it’s still very adult with the nice plates and the monogrammed napkins. Still, it’s very reminiscent of simpler times in our memory.”
In fact, Babin remembers one client in particular who helped inspire this super-sweet spread.
“I have a friend who lives in Virginia and owns Capitol Vintage Charm, and in a video tour she did once of this little old lady’s home, there were all these cool vintage ornaments on this amazing tree, so that was really cool,” she says. “I have an other client with a silver tinsel tree with glass retro ornaments. A lot of fun stuff is coming back into people’s homes this year.”
But what if you’re not keen on sensory overload? How do you go for a more minimalist approach without looking boring?
“The key to a minimal approach like I did for a more monochrome ‘Sleigh Bells Ring’ tablescape,” she says, “is to make sure the minimalism looks intentional. If you don’t keep all the elements purposeful and tied together, the event or the spread risks looking cheap or tacky.”
Citing brands like Magnolia’s Hearth & Hand Collection at Target, Babin notes that texture and muted color palettes are super important when it comes to looking refined, not sparse.
“If you use white fabrics, go for a white linen instead of a polyester,” she says. “Take advantage of the textures of rustic tables and chairs. Even here, the wooden chargers I got from Pottery Barn were such a great investment, because they can really go with anything and look nice when paired with white plates and bowls, which most people have anyway.”
Likewise, the right kind of greenery can do wonders to tie a scheme together.
“Eucalyptus is really what creates that effortless, soft effect,” she says. “You don’t necessarily want bright, summery green plants for this look.”
Not everyone, after all, wants all the effort put into Christmas to be a short-lived affair.
“With this more muted winter wonderland theme,” she says, “you can easily bring the style into January. You don’t feel the pressure to take it all away after Christmas, and it gives the neutral, clean lines that will really work any time of year.”
Which style are you most drawn to? Let us know in the comments below.