The Re-imagined Wintry Holiday Table

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The holidays are almost here!  This year, more than ever before, we’re ready to embrace the holidays and relish those warm feelings of gathering with friends and family. The rise in at-home entertaining over the past 18 months has sparked a lot of creativity and changed how we entertain at home. Gone are the pre-pandemic days when you had guests over for the holidays, went on autopilot, pulled out your trusty white Pottery Barn place settings, just as you did last year and the one before that, and called it a wrap.

We aren’t suggesting that you toss-out your Pottery Barn place settings, not at all. Rather, indulge your inner creativity and start thinking, ‘Why Don’t You …’ as Diana Vreeland did in the popular advice column she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar in the late 1950s. Readers couldn’t get enough of Mrs. Vreeland’s wildly extravagant ideas. One of her most notable quips was, ‘Why don’t you … order Schiaparelli’s cellophane belt with your name and telephone number on it?” and another, Why don’t you … rinse your blond child’s hair in dead champagne to keep it gold, as they do in France?”

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If you adopt Mrs. Vreeland’s mindset, you’re bound to create a truly memorable festive holiday table this year. Fashion Reverie spoke with interior designers and friends who love to host gatherings year-round. We gleaned some decorating tips from the Washington, DC area interior designer, Victoria Pearson and drew inspiration from the beautiful tableaus in her shop.  Victoria emphasizes the importance of always being mindful of the right proportions, something that is essential to work out before getting immersed in the details of setting up a table. Her top tip? Containers. Rather than “Thanksgiving Table, Christmas Table” she uses the term “the wintery holiday table” for her set-ups because it sounds less formal and more festive. Says Victoria, “In my store I sell so many beautiful containers and switch it out season to season for my clients, it’s that simple.”  She favors garden urns, both large and small, depending on the size of the table. Another less costly option is to use large bowls as centerpieces. Victoria advises, “Try to do 3 containers on a table whenever possible, for maximum symmetry and impact. If you don’t have 3 containers to work with, place 2 large containers on each end of the table, or for simplicity, one big bowl in the center.”

Victorian Pearson is on Facebook: Victoria’s Past Tyme.

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And now, for Fashion Reverie’s ‘Why Don’t You …’ compilation of decorating tips for Holiday 2021.

Why don’t you … turn to Pantone as a start for your color schemes? Color sets the mood and tone, so what better place to start? – Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone

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Why Don’t You … make the children’s table something truly magical, rather than the usual drab card table in the corner set with boring paper plates? Use groupings of bejeweled teddy bears as centerpieces to delight the children and set each place with each child’s favorite cartoon character. They will be enchanted and entertained, and their table will be so irresistible that the adults will want to sit there instead of at “the big table!” – Lisa Pliner, artist, designer, and podcast host. 

Why Don’t You … go up to the attic and dig out your grandmother’s wedding china, sterling silver and crystal stemware? Set-out a grand formal table with the works, 3 forks, including one for the fish course and place cards. If you don’t own fine china, that’s not a problem; there are many fine vintage dinnerware sets available for a fraction of their original price from the 1950s and 1960s thanks to the explosion of fast-food and takeout. – Marshall Rountree, antique fine jewelry, china, and crystal dealer.

Why Don’t You … mix it up and break the rules? Combine collectibles that are valued in the four figures with everyday use glassware from Target and Ikea. – Scott French, Fashion Designer and Publicist.

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Why Don’t You …g o to a vintage or thrift shop and pick up some cotton scarves or men’s pocket squares and use them as table napkins? – Carl Ayers, Fashion Reverie managing editor

Why Don’t You … pull out a big platter and dress it up with holiday napkins? Use foil and sprinkle fake snow on top to create a wintry wonderland centerpiece.  – Victoria Pearson

Why Don’t You … get crafty, and make your own table runners? No one else will have the same ones on their holiday table. –  Martha Stewart

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Why Don’t You … have your holiday dinner outdoors and call it “a luxury picnic”? Sites such as Instagram darling @picnics_by_chrissy can work with you to create the festive scenario of your dreams. Set up dinner in your favorite outdoor spot, scrap the chairs, and lounge on colorful velvet pillows next to a white teepee or cabana for a truly Instagram-worthy moment. – Erin Rock Reid, hostess

As S.J.Perelman wrote in The New Yorker, “Why be boring when you have the opportunity every day to be fanciful and fun? Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary.” Make this the holiday season to astonish your family and friends with a unique holiday table that will make for great pictures on social media.

Fashion Reverie would love to know what your favorite ‘Why Don’t You …’  is for your holiday table.

—Vivian Kelly

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