When I was growing up, holiday meals always took place at tables set with beautiful china. My mom, the grandmothers, the aunts — no matter who hosted the family dinner it was served on great dishes. As I've said many times before, those experiences turned me into a dish junkie. Today I have my grandmother's gold-bordered service, which I just used at Thanksgiving, as well as a set of antique dinner plates with a wide red band dripping with gold curliques. They are my usual go-to choices for December dinner parties.
Last December, when we hosted friends for dinner, I made Afro-Brazillian fish stew and it needed to be served in bowls. That necessitated re-thinking everything because my big soup bowls are blue and white. But I think I managed to create a holiday feel without going all red and green, which I try to avoid everywhere but in my red room.
I used little plexiglass napkin holders, that are actually vases, with a sprig of evergreens for a Christmassy touch and silky plaid napkins for a bit of glam. The placemats are some kind of straw which also has a bit of a sheen.
Our wooden Italian putti is in the corner shedding a little candlelight. More candles are on the table along with a big bowl of dried pomegranates, pomanders and assorted ornaments.
I won't be able to recreate this setting again this December because Mark never liked those napkins: too thin and too slippery according to him. So this fall they were relegated to my bin of supplies for textile projects. They definitely have a lot of potential in that area!