Now that we’re back to entertaining family and friends, it’s time to pay attention to our tablescape, whether you’re creating a beautiful dessert table, hors d’oeuvres spread or setting the table for a sit-down dinner party.

Six Houston area interior designers recently participated in the holiday Tablescape Sip and Stroll event at the Decorative Center Houston, each matched with a showroom. Oscar Banta-Guevara of Interiors by Oscar decorated a table featuring blue and white chinoiserie at Arsin Rug Gallery, Courtney Blair and Torri Tokerud of Tokerud+Co. Interior Design went all out with a woodlands theme at Wells Abbott and Meredith Ellis set a simple but elegant table at her own James showroom. In the Amodo European Collection showroom, Lobat Esfahanian of Design With Attitude channeled accessibility, Christine Ho of Christine Ho Interiors went vivid with a bold red centerpiece in the John Brooks showroom and Alecia Johnson of Pearl Design Interiors chose a black-and-white contemporary theme in the Cantoni Trade showroom.

Tokerud-Wells Abbott won the Best of Show Award and Ho earned the People’s Choice Award. can delete this stc for print 

Their styles ranged from contemporary to traditional, and some stayed with a red-green holiday theme while others added in unexpected colors. Their choices showed the many lessons of creating a beautiful event.

1. Fresh flowers

When it comes to hosting a party — holiday or otherwise — great hosts and hostesses know that fresh flowers are a must. There’s an economy to having great-looking faux flowers for every-day décor, but when you’re entertaining, put fresh flowers on display.

For this event, designers all used fresh flowers as centerpieces, ranging from Oscar Banta-Guevara’s blue-and-white porcelain stuffed with luscious red roses to Christine Ho’s arrangement of amaryllis, roses and red berries. The women from Tokerud went all natural with evergreen branches, pine cones and berries in a tall, over-the-top display, and Ellis showed that you don’t have to spend a fortune at a florist, using flowers and greenery from Trader Joe’s.

2. Traditional or not

Red and green may scream “Christmas,” but there’s nothing wrong with being nontraditional, if that’s what you like. Besides, not all holiday soirees are about Christmas — some are simply end-of-year gatherings. Start by choosing your theme and then gather dishes, glasses or crystal, other serving pieces, table linens and plan your centerpiece accordingly.

If it’s a more casual event, feel free to decorate your table that way, but if your personality is all glamour and shine, live it up with sparkly things, as Banta-Guevara did with Baccarat crystal goblets and napkin rings.

3. High-low

Every home is filled with price points, from high to low. Your table can be, too. Pretty dinnerware scored at a tag sale might be paired with your own expensive crystal or the sterling silver you inherited from your grandmother. Blair and Tokerud used beautiful dishes and crystal but then found inexpensive live-edge wood discs for charger plates at Hobby Lobby. 

Charger plates really dress up a place setting, and many can be found at affordable prices. Be sure to use chargers that complement your dinnerware without completely repeating it. The right charger plates make a dinner plate stand out. If you can’t afford expensive crystal, there’s plenty of beautiful glassware out there at lower prices.

4. Tableware

If you’ve got a nice set of white dishes, you already know they go with everything. One way to mix it up for dinner parties is to add in different salad or cocktail plates for more color or pattern on a table.

Those with nice formal china can still mix and match, using dinner plates with a pretty pattern and salad plates that are plain with a gold rim or in a completely different pattern in coordinating colors. Remember, there are very few rules about mix and match these days — as long as you make it look good.

5. Accessories

Just as in fashion, the accessories on your table will “finish” your tablescape. Find nice napkins and have them monogrammed, buy pretty candlesticks and fill them with gorgeous candles. (In case you didn’t already know this; we all look better in candlelight.) Even small serving pieces, such as cute salt and pepper shakers or a whimsical butter dish, will make a statement.

6. Your stash

Not everyone has a butler’s pantry or multiple china cabinets, but we all can find a place to store extra stuff. If you like to entertain and create great tablescapes, always be on the lookout for interesting pieces or decorations that could work for a future party. 

If you know what you have — dishes, glassware, table linens, etc. — you can always be on the lookout for things that will fit on a beautiful table. One great example are the salad plates that Courtney Blair of Tokerud+Co. Interior Design used in her woodland-themed tablescape. They’re not part of a full set of dishes, but they worked perfectly with the Juliska dinner plates with a deep pewter glaze. The same goes for cocktail plates. Since we’re living in a not-so-matchy-matchy world, plates that look good with a set you already have are the perfect thing to pick up when you can. The same goes for things you always need, such as napkins, candles and serving bowls.  

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