As much as I love unconventional colors for Christmas, here's a more traditional table Jaithan and I created in our own home, published in Southern Living.  


Of course, this begs the question: what does our house in upstate New York have to do with Christmas celebrated Southern style? Anyone who's ever picked up and moved great distances, crossing borders and oceans along the way, knows that traditions are more about how we think than where we live. As a child, every year on Christmas eve, I remember my grandfather Eddie breaking the Oplatki with honey, a thin, Communion-like wafer in the Polish tradition, then sharing it with my brothers and me, one by one. My affinity for antiques, I suppose, for tables set formally with china, silver and linens passed down for generations or, in my case, simply happened upon, certainly seems more of a Southern tradition. And so even though Jaithan and I may not live in the South (at least not yet anyway), sometimes, and at holidays especially, we're Southern at heart. 


Despite the classic color palette, I wanted to set a table, combining subtle, unexpected elements for a more modern feel. No matter how traditional your china, don't underestimate the power of a simple linen topper in a bold, bright hue. It instantly feels fresher! Mixing and matching china, silver and glass gives your table an eclectic, worldly look, as though collected over time. Sprigs of holly, tied simply with ribbon, lend a festive feel. Ornaments, pine cones and candy canes work equally well. And when all else fails, tie a pretty bow and be done!             


To fill the corner of the dining room, we placed a small tabletop tree in an urn, then trimmed it with mercury glass garland from the 20s and all vintage ornaments passed down to me from Dottie or gathered from flea markets. Crisp white packages with red and green ribbon are an unexpected surprise for guests. 


Finally, if you're hosting this year, here's my advice: do everything you possibly can ahead of time. And when you think you've done it all, do more! That way, when the doorbell rings, when guests arrive bearing gifts and cheer and alcohol, you too can enjoy it all. From our families to yours, have a creative and joyous holiday, everyone!