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Set a Stage of Merriment this Holiday Season

In the spirit of Week 5 and my One Room Challenge Dining Room refresh, I thought I would use the stormy weather and overall crazy week to skip right into sourcing for the Reveal that coincidentally occurs right before Turkey Day here in the States. Keep reading for what I sourced so far and even some items you can score for yourself.

Need to catch up? Go back to read about the first half of my fall 2022 One Room Challenge by Apartment Therapy!

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you're going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction. Stephen R. Covey

Make a Game Plan Much like any other actionable journey, the path to a successful fête begins with the very first step you take. So it should not be surprising when I say that the secret to mastering a well-done holiday shindig is to start with the end in mind. With so many other pressing considerations at the forefront during the holidays--like sold out toys and delayed flights--there are just as many details that I like to iron out before I break out my handy-dandy chef's knife. A few good starter questions:

  • How many guests do you intend to host?

  • Will the menu be a formal spread or light finger-foods?

  • Will the guests be sticking around afterwards or should you anticipate an empty house a few hours after the party commences?

While there are no wrong answers to the questions above, knowing what kind of event you want to host sets the stage for your future timeline. It also creates a framework for reasonable expectations in regards to what can be cooked, ordered or arranged prior to the first doorbell. Nearly every aspect of your day can been handled by you or a hired professional. Now is the the time to schedule, delegate and make proper arrangements so everyone and everything is where it should be.

Develop the Details Now that you have figured out the scope of your project, managing the task list becomes remarkably more achievable. It's during this time that I begin to deconflict potential scheduling conflicts by vetting dates with my husband and family. You've already figured out most of your event so this just means you plug in with the details to make it all make sense. Use your answers from the questions above to guide your decision-making:

Hosting a small open house for your neighbors and close friends? Order a large grazing table or charcuterie platter and set a table so that your guests can drop off their own desserts for a fun cookie exchange. Hosting a sit-down meal with at least two courses? Chart out the oven schedule to make sure you have time to prep/cook it all or speak with the caterer about the parts you do not want to manage. Sometimes I plan to do it all but when I can't, I delegate desserts to my favorite local baker, Kate over at Deep South Sweets.

While the menu is obviously front and center, the space you plan for guests is definitely tantamount to ensuring everyone is comfortable and cozy. Start

always with a well cleaned area. This includes any spaces your guests may end up. The dining room, powder bathroom, kitchen and coat closet are good spaces to start. If you will be hosting for longer periods, this would also extend to guest bedrooms/bathrooms--er, the whole house! Tidy up first because next up is my personal favorite . . .

Set the mood You have found a date that works with everyone's busy schedule, ordered all the food goodies and even managed to arrange for a floral delivery for a centerpiece (not too big!) that will delight even the most unimpressed in-law. But now is the time to really pack in the punch. Light a candle (here are my new favorites by SE Candle Co) and test our your playlist while you decorate. Starting with a clean room means you really can't go wrong here. If it's late December and your home is already awash in twinkling lights and fresh cedar garlands, adding a well sized tablecloth and your holiday feast could easily be enough. If you're starting with a blank space, think of your tablescape as a beautiful blank canvas. Start first with a solid table. Cover with a tablecloth that easily skims the floor or puddles at the base for an extra hint of drama (or keep your table bare and skip the extra laundry). Will there be place settings? If so, hand wash any china and polish up that silver! Or you can skip the traditional conventions and set your table with mismatched printed plates and utensils in neat containers.

Create wow-factor by layering in fun glasses, printed napkins in a fun print. I also like to layer in fresh greenery and an over-the-top floral arrangement. Create a space that is evocative of all the senses using seasonally appropriate fruit and dried flowers in creative ways, like dried oranges, fresh artichokes and eucalyptus.

Finally, think outside of the box for how you set your table. Dried pinecones to hold name cards or a freshly painted pumpkin to anchor your napkins are fun and sustainable ways to dress up a table. When it comes to presentation, I like to have a few classically traditional pieces that I use in non-traditional ways. A silver ice bucket could be used as a vase. Small marble trays can house beautifully layered crudité and brass bowls can hold nuts or baked rolls and breads. The only rule is to make it waterproof and/or foodsafe!

But can we skip to the good part? In real life no, but thankfully here you get to see all the fun in the order of your choosing. In my plan to maximize the drama of the hand-painted mural I did in the dining room last week, I have decided to really play with the senses of understated elegance (like the drama of the boucle in the chairs) with the patina of old. I found all these goodies locally in Mississippi!

I mean just look at the potential of that Murano-style Swan! I think I have found my centerpiece! If driving around and scouring Facebook marketplace isn't your thing, there are several reputable brands that do all the heavy lifting and resell beautiful vintage and retail pieces. Two of my favorite places to shop are Curated Home Decor and Etsy. I am just a bit obsessed with the CHD vintage style pressed glasses, their selection of marble vessels and these white square, gold rimmed glasses. All my late night meandering somehow landed me on these honeypots made of beeswax by Tomten Beeworks that can easily elevate your table or double as a gift!

So that's all for now. If you look, you'll see the boucle sample for the chairs above but be sure to check out my Instagram because the fabric is here now. I'll be getting started on those chairs soon!


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