Book Excerpt: DIY Table Settings for Your Holiday Bash

Book Excerpt: DIY Table Settings for Your Holiday Bash


’Tis the season to party. We’ve already showed you how to throw the perfect literary holiday party, but we wanted to take a closer look at the main event: dinner. Centerpieces and place settings are nearly as important as the delicious food you decide to serve. Katy Holder, author of Create & Decorate, is here to make your Pinterest dreams come true. She’s sharing some of her favorite holiday table decorations, photographed here by Natasha Milne.


Planning how I’m going to style my Christmas table starts long before Christmas, as I think up what color scheme I would like or if I want a theme. Some of these decorations can sit on your table for the days or weeks leading up to Christmas, lending a Christmassy feel to your home for longer, while others are more suited just to Christmas Day.

Here are a few hints and tips when styling your table.

—Scatter the table with colored stars (available from craft stores) in a color to match your theme.

—If adding a table centerpiece keep it low so guests can still talk across the table to each other. If your centerpiece is tall, keep it narrow. If you really want to have a larger centerpiece, I would recommend moving it off the table once the meal is served.

—If using tea lights on the table I recommend using battery operated LED ones for safety.

Create & Decorate_scrabble place setting
These are super simple yet very effective. Arrange guests’ names on top of a napkin on their plate using scrabble letters. You can often find old scrabble letters in second-hand shops, or use them from your own set. You can also buy magnetic scrabble letters in some gift shops. Any will work well. If you don’t have sufficient letters for whole names, just use first and last initials.

Create & Decorate_silver and white reindeer toppers
These are very cute and add an instant sense of Christmas to your table! Although this isn’t specifically aimed at kids, I’m sure most kids would love to make these, but they may need a bit of help cutting around the antlers. I use these in the candle centerpiece, but you can also stick them into the top of canapés or other Christmas food.

Makes 5 toppers

You will need
Photocopy of the smaller stag head template
Sparkly silver cardboard (or your choice of color)
Silver pen (optional)
Sticky tape (Scotch tape)
5 toothpicks
5 red jewels or stickers (for the noses)

What to do
1) Cut out the stag head template and draw around it onto the back of the piece of silver cardboard. Do this five times, making sure the stag heads don’t overlap. Cut out the five stag heads. At this point, I like to color the back of each stag head with the silver pen so it looks good from all angles, but this is up to you.

2) Using sticky tape, stick one end of a toothpick onto the back of each stag head, ensuring the toothpick doesn’t stick out the top.

3) Stick a red jewel or sticker onto each reindeer’s nose.

4) Stick the toppers into the greenery of your candle centerpiece (see above) at even intervals, or use them to decorate canapés or other Christmas food.

Create & Decorate_table set
The size of the wreath will depend on how many twigs you have. Feel free to use more than what’s suggested here.

You will need
About 30 pieces of weathered wood, ranging in length from about 5 in to about 10 in; cut longer lengths to size if necessary
Strong glue (a hot-glue gun works well)
Piece of cardboard, about 10 in square
3–4 pieces of rosemary or other green foliage, each about 8 in long
1 large or several smaller white non-drip candles

What to do
1) Before you stick all the pieces of wood together permanently, have a practice run, stacking them on top of each other in circular layers. You’ll need about five layers altogether. This will help you determine the size of the final wreath, especially if you are using more than 30 pieces of wood.

2) Remove three layers of wood so you’re left with just the first two layers.

3) Working slowly and carefully, start by gluing the first two layers together at points where the wood touches.

4) Attach another layer of wood and repeat step 3, then repeat with the next two layers (so you’ll end up with five layers of wood, although the distinct layers can be quite hard to see).

5) Sit the wreath on the piece of cardboard and draw around it roughly with the pencil. Remove the wreath and draw another circle inside the roughly drawn one about 3/4 in in from the edge. Cut out the smaller circle and set aside.

6) Thread the rosemary into the wreath, tucking it under one or two pieces of wood to keep it in place (you shouldn’t need to attach it with anything).

7) Put the cardboard circle where you are going to place your wreath, sit the wreath on top of the cardboard and then place the candle(s) in the middle. Never leave lit candles unattended.

Create & Decorate_nature and linen napkins
Linen napkins are a beautiful choice for your table, but they can be pretty expensive to buy. The good news is they are easy to make yourself. These napkins are about 19 in x 15 in in size, but you can make them bigger or smaller if you prefer. Their frayed edges are visually appealing, and also mean there’s no hemming involved!

You could also make a matching table runner 12–16 in wide and the length of your table, plus an extra 12 in for overhang.

Makes 8 napkins

You will need
Piece of chalk
Piece of linen sufficient to make 8 napkins, each 19 in x 15 in in size (the length the linen needs to be will depend on its width)
Iron and ironing board
Red fabric paint

What to do
1) Using the ruler and chalk, draw 8 rectangles onto the piece of linen, each one measuring 19 in x 15 in.

2) Carefully cut out each napkin.

3) Working on one napkin at a time, find a loose thread on an edge and start pulling it. Keep pulling it around all sides of the napkin several times until you have a frayed edge of about 1/2 in all the way around.

4) Iron the napkins, then fold them in half (along the longest sides), then into thirds to make a rectangle approximately 9 1/2 in x 5 in.

5) Using the red fabric paint and the paintbrush, paint the word “YUM” onto the bottom of each napkin (i.e. on the short side of the folded napkins).

6) Set aside for several hours until completely dry, then place a napkin on top of a dinner plate at each place setting. Finish by putting a leaf decoration (see below) on top of each folded napkin, above the word “YUM”.

Create & Decorate_nature and linen christmas bauble decorations
A very simple but effective table decoration is to arrange a small selection of beautiful baubles on a cake stand. You could also add a silver spray-painted leaf (see below) if you like.



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