20 December, 2006

Center Stage

If there’s one thing about my mother, she has always made a big to-do about setting the formal dining room. Even as a little girl, I can remember getting to help properly set the table with all the fine china, crystal and silver. What a treat to go pull everything ever so gently out of the large armoire in the entry way, listening to the bone china ding and rattle against each other as I carried the cups and saucers, one stacked inside another. Of course, by today’s standards it would be considered vintage given that they’ve been married 41 years, but I digress.

The table always looked beautiful with beautiful fine linens and napkins, place cards, and floral centerpieces. But it’s not just the centerpieces. Leave it to my mom to sporadically place other small accessories and decorative items along the table to as we sat and dined, there was always something to look at and see down the tablescape. I guess she was my first "Martha."

So really it should come as no small surprise, that I get a lot of joy in setting my own dining room. It just really brings me back to being a little girl in my Christmas finery, white tights and black patent leather mary-janes. And while I do no have the expansive 14’ table my parents do, I really enjoy setting my formal china, crystal and sterling at the holidays, and also coming up with creative centerpieces. Although I admit, mine never looks anything like my mom’s with the multiple fabrics and runners, ribbons, and flowers galore, but it’s it usually ends up being more than I end up having time for so it’s just fine for the Monograms.

Last year I was determined to be prepared with lots of great ideas for my table centerpieces this year, so I pulled some great ideas out of a "Christmas Ideas 2005" magazine (which I *think* was put out by MSLO). So I thought I'd share them in case you are hosting that final party or gather this weekend, or for Christmas Eve or Day, or even for New Years. Of course, you know monogram momma has your back so they are all simple and fresh ideas, that you can pull together in no time flat, but that will really sit center stage on your dining room table.

Cyndrilical Rose Arrangement I have picked up these glass cylinder vases for under $4 at my JoAnn's store, so I'm guessing you probably can too. Strip the rose stems of all thorns and leaves (saving the leaves), then cut each stem to the same length, which should be shorter than the height of the vase. Fill each vase inside with the roses, trying to make them stand up as straight as possible with on leaning. Then take your leaves and line them up around the outside of the vase, securing them with a rubber band, then topping that off (and hiding the rubber band) with a pretty red taffeta bow. Now THAT'S simple!

Coffee Bean Design If you've been hanging around me long enough, you already know that I love to decorate with natural things that I can easily pick up at the grocery, such as split peas, coffee beans, kumquats and cranberries. By sticking a smaller vase with your water and actual flowers inside the taller, large vase here, you can then pack the larger vase, surrounding the inner one, with coffee beans (to keep them dry). In shorter, smaller vases, just fill with coffee beans and place a votive inside. When the votive starts warming up, it will gently warm the coffee beans and exude that fresh coffee aroma.

Mint Julep There are so many things you can do with mint julep cups. Seriously. And although the hydrangea's (as shown here) are near impossible to find this time of year, you can still fill your mint julep cups, or small silver vases, with moss and minty green holiday balls for a festive table top look. How great would these look sporadically placed along a buffet table?

Rustic Holiday Table If you've got that more rustic or woodsy holiday look going for you, then I love this. This would look great even more casually on the kitchen table or island also. And I know we've all got extra greenery and tree branches at our disposal this time of year too. If you don't have any extra laying around your garage as I do, then run over to your local tree lot and they are usually happy to give the trimmings away for free to anyone who wants them. By placing them in a pretty red flower pot, including some burlap in the mix, a few red ornaments and pine cones, you've got yourself the perfect little pot.

White Christmas Artificial trees can pretty much be found anywhere right now. Heck I even saw small ones for sale at Walgreens Drug Store when I ran in there on Saturday to pick up a prescription. And this close to Christmas, everyone is practically giving them away too. So pop your head in, pick up a small one, spray paint it white, followed by a can of spray Snow, and you'll have yourself this lovely little white tree. They've used star ornaments here, and placed it in a very inexpensive aluminum tin that you can pick up in the paint department of your local home improvement store. And to create the look of snow in the bottom of the pail, pick up a large container of good old fashioned Epsom Rock Salt to add to that wintry, White Christmas look.

Rosemary I love these bushes. I love their shape, their smell, just everything about them is so wonderfully Christmassy to me. So dash on over to your local garden center and pick up two in whatever size you want (make it fit with the size of your dining room. For instance, if you're room is large with high ceilings, then get larger ones. But if it's on the smaller size with a low hanging chandelier, then pick up bushes on the smaller size), then place them in pretty decorative pots on the table. Add some festive ribbon and for little effort and cost, you've got a great statement.

Single Rose How simple is this? Well if you like a more streamlined and contemporary design, then place one single large bloom (either real or good quality faux) in a round vase. These vases are inexpensive in the floral section of the craft store. You can do several of these all the way down the center of your table at spaced intervals.

NOEL Who doesn't have extra candlesticks and ornaments hanging around this time of year? This is a simple and fast centerpiece but yet very eye catching, don't you think? It's a little casual for me, but this would also work on a mantle, sideboard, or sofa table and look very festive.

Low Lying Color Want something a little closer to the table and not hovering high above your head, obstucting your view from the person accross the table from you? Then this is just for you. If it were me, I'd use one of my elongated silver bread platters, lay down some festive greenery and leaves, then put some colorful Christmas balls on top for my low lying splash of color.

Wreath Who says it has to belong on the door? Run over to your local craft store and pick up a few wreaths and use them as centerpieces with candles in the center, or by placing your dishes in the center of the wreath. I love this idea for a buffet table, where you can put your caserole right in the center, while drawing attention to the dish with the greenery that surrounds it.

Wrap it Up You're already in the midst of wrapping, so why not wrap up a few extra packages and place them on the table for your centerpiece, or on teh buffet table. If you opt to use them on teh buffet table, then use lay the boxes so the bows are in the dront, and you can place dishes and napkins and food on top of the boxes, giving you all those levels and heights you know monogram momma is always so keen on doing.

Peppermint Sticks This is fun and kitschy but at the same time, sort of elegant. Either Glue or use a rubber band to affix the peppermint sticks to your glass vase, then wrap a ribbon around it, add a little florist foam inside and stick in all those beautiful roses to create that heaping festive mound.


the mom said...

I've seen those wonderful Rosemary bushes at Whole Foods the last two years. They are so charming and I've seen them given as "teacher" gifts or just for a little Christmas "happy." BTW, I love all these ideas, filing them away for next year's decorating ;)

Marsha said...

I wonder if the candy sticks can be coated with poly-something so that the vase can be saved for a couple years. I once made button covers out of starlight mints hotglued into the cover blanks - a project that involved coating the candy with clear nailpolish before gluing. So, maybe yes it could be done.

What do you think?

My table usually has a deep red tablecloth and is festooned with dozens of thin brass stars (in three sizes) and the centerpiece is a large snowglobe (no, really!). Endpieces are tall, thin square vases with red roses and silver star picks (they're not really picks, but sort of...).

suburban prep said...

Such ideas, I only partly wish I were hosting Christmas ( partly because I don't envy the clean-up afterwards).
I have beautiful china and glassware and sets for the holidays as well.
I just don't have a large enough place to host the families and friends

Monogram Momma said...

Glad you guys liked the ideas! I love them all too. I'm still undecided on what to do to my dining table this year but it will definiltely be one of the above.

Yes, Marsha, I think that's a great idea. If you want to make it last, then I would absolutely coat the peppermint sticks w/ a Poly, or like you said, you could probably use clear nail polish. But It might just be cheaper to buy a small thing of poly depending on how large your vase is and how many pappermit sticks you're going to be coating.

slc said...

Lovely ideas!!
I especially like the peppermint sticks. I have a candle in a hurricane with coffee beans to support it. They smell good also.

STL Sarah said...

Those mint julep centerpieces look almost exactly like the ones I'm having at my wedding reception! They will be filled with green flowers and there will be three on each table. My florist is getting the cups wholesale for me, and you can bet I will keep them to use for years to come. They are so versatile.