• Carswell King

Table decorating - the no rules way

There was designer who did the display tables in the housewares department at the Bay. He was a rock star of tablescaping. His displays were magnificent - art really, and I'd make a point to visit that department whenever I was in the store, just to admire them. Texture and colour, unusual use of ornamentation - like a wagon wheel suspended from the ceiling or over-sized candle holders casually positioned on the table - all added to the seemingly effortless but elegant improvisation that characterized his work.


It gave me the inspiration I needed to try my hand at tablescaping and the first thing I abandoned were all the rules! Out with formality - in with the fun. Here are a few of my Christmas tables over the years.


A Skater's Waltz

A white and silver theme with an animated skating rink featured Santa and friends as the focal point of a wintery tableau. I used a piece of remnant faux fur to visually extend the ice rink and set all on a mirrored surface that reflected dozens of tiny glittering lights throughout the evening. Gauzy silver napkins, silver chargers, candles and ornaments completed what was a fun and elegant table.


I'll Have a Blue Christmas

Blue, turquoise, white and silver shimmered under a roll of deep blue ribbon gauze twisted along the length of the table dotted with glowing lights. Tall cobalt-blue candle holders held embossed candles, and a silver nested bird. Many of the items I use on my tables I've had for years - part of the fun is finding new ways to display them.


A Riot of Red

You can't go wrong with red at Christmas! These two tables were splashed with loose red napkins that overflowed the wine glasses. The first table featured silver runners, a collection of coloured mini balls on a mirrored surface, white china and sparkling silver ware. The second table was simple in red and black with the same easy style applied to the napkin placement, and a black tablecloth layered with a black sequinned runner for added glitter and shine. I never use napkin holders - they just end up cluttering the table.


Jewel -ry for Christmas Please

A burst of jewel tones set on a black runner and silver table cloth, silvery open-weave placemats and colourful bows holding each guest's name were highlights in the jewel-toned decorations. The colourful Christmas crackers visually "popped" against folded black napkins.

For the second table I used a small silver table cloth, casually ruched and dotted with carefully hidden candles. Christmas-coloured balls in a glass vase with fresh holly also held hidden lights - the whole idea was to let the table glow and provide ambience. An off-side floor lamp provided additional lighting - no overhead lights - ever!


Dreaming of a White Christmas

White Christmas was one of my favourites. Fresh flowers, a runner of white faux fur, a polar bear, a reindeer a Christmas angel and a profusion of soft glowing lights and silver accents made for a dreamy evening table.


Downton Abbey style

I've called this year's table "Downton Abbey" style because there will only be two of us and we'll be eating at opposite ends of the table! It's all about black and gold this year with a gorgeous burst of faux flowers in reds and dark pinks and red glitter candles. The gold curly accents I used to give the centrepiece height are from floral bouquets I had received in the past and kept (I keep everything - and I always shop the post Christmas sales for great bargains on decorations).



These are just some of my tables but I've learned over the years that breaking the 'formal table" rule is fun and can lead to some innovative displays for guests to enjoy. A new years table I created featured a 3-foot wrought iron candle holder set on the table top and wrapped with a feather boa - it made a dramatic statement for a new years party. I always keep food on a side-table so I can keep the ornamentations intact throughout the meal. Thanksgiving, Easter or even a summer table are all blank canvases for no-rules table decorating.


Here's wishing all of you a very merry Christmas or however you celebrate the season I hope it's filled with happiness in spite of trying times. We'll look forward to a better year ahead.