Festive holiday décor takes center stage this month, but if there’s one place to really shine, it’s your dining table — the very heart of many a celebration — and the place where sharing the joy and deliciousness of the season with friends and family is really what it’s all about.
But creating an out-of-the-ordinary tablescape that is personal, original and lovely is a bit of an art. So, we tapped some of Long Island’s top event planners, caterers, interior designers and chefs to show us the way.
Among them, Lawrence Scott Gottesman of Lawrence Scott Events based in Hicksville who, though famous for his wildly imaginative and extravagant parties and happenings, says it’s not necessarily about being fancy.
“There are no rules about setting a table,” he explains. “The table has to speak to me and tell a story … everybody has one. It’s about thoughtfulness and including your guests in your story.”
Duly noted, there are some practical matters to take into account presetting says Nicole Riportella, co-owner of Tabletalk, a luxury event style and rental service out of West Islip. “We always want our tables to be beautiful, but we want them to be comfortable too. Keep in mind the size of the table and make sure there’s enough room for people to sit. One of the most important things to consider is the style of the meal. Is it plated or do people have to get up to go to a buffet? Are there platters? If so think about having space for them on the table.”
Finally, almost all of our creative experts say that layering and texture are key elements on their tables. Many recommend using unexpected items to zhush up a dining setting such as Christmas ornaments, mismatched place settings, fruits, family photos and greens plucked from outdoors. Eileen Kathryn Boyd of EKB Interiors in Huntington advises, “It's all about small, medium and large scale. You want to entertain the eye.”
Gather some holiday table inspo:
An earthy and textured table
By Andrea Correale, founder and owner of Elegant Affairs Caterers, Glen Cove
Though she runs loads of fancy, high-end catering events, Correale put together a dreamy table setting in her own Syosset home for less than $200. “I wanted to do something really pretty, but I didn’t want to break the bank,” she says. She found her vintage-looking Christmas plates, faux wreath centerpieces, and plaid "napkins" (actually dish towels that came in packs of four) at two different Home Goods stores. The ruby red wineglasses were an Amazon buy (“I think they were under $20 for four,” she says), the crochet runner was from Frontgate, and the pine cone napkin rings, rattan chargers and darling mitten silverware holders came from Etsy, all topping a rented jute tablecloth. “I thought it was beautiful, earthy and traditional. It’s all about layering and using different textures and color.”
A theme of red and gold
By Barbara Lewis, The Lewis Design Group LLC, Locust Valley
“When you sit at my table, you know what holiday it is,” says Lewis, an interior designer. And her lavish gold and red setting underscores the point. “I love to create layers at the table and generally have a lot of them that tend to reflect our family and myself.” Here ginger jars, pagoda-shaped candle holders, orchids and actual little presents amp up her table.
Channeling snowy days
Eileen Kathryn Boyd, EKB Interiors, Huntington
This more formal look features “a cooler palette inspired by icicles, snow days and berry colors,” says Boyd, an interior designer. In the mix, glass cherubs and trees, mismatched candlesticks and a vessel filled with shiny Christmas ornaments. “I want people to stay at the table and feel special,” she says.
Eye-catching layers and gelt
Amal Kapen Interiors and Decorations, Cold Spring Harbor
“Tables are like rooms, they need layers,” explains Kapen. She likes topping hers with tablecloths a-n-d place mats. “It elevates the setting and protects the tablecloths.” She recommends using pine cones, oranges stuffed with cloves, and knickknacks for added interest and says, “I love color.” Her luscious Hanukkah look includes a menorah, flowers, fruit, Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) and glass evil eyes. “The setting we provide for our table is just one way we show love,” she says.
A touch of nature
Chef Nicole Uliano, Glen Cove
This personal chef who does boutique-style events hosted in North Shore clients’ homes says, “My tables often include fresh seasonal fruit and herbs. They’re a ‘feast for the eye’ and guests will have a total sensory experience while dining.” At her own home, Uliano sets her holiday table in what she calls an “untraditional” style with thrifted black plates (“the food will really star,” says the chef), real pine cones, herbs tied with sparkly ribbon and retro glassware she purchased at Rosie’s Vintage in Huntington. “I took Christmas tree decorations and ornaments I already had around my home and filled in with greenery.”
Lawrence Scott Gottesman of Lawrence Scott Events, Hicksville
Whether he’s doing a mega-gig for 1,000 or a party in someone’s home, Scott says that tables should “convey who the host and hostess are.” He’s the master of the unexpected when designing tabletops, employing everything from snow globes to lamps as decorative elements. In this case, replica ceramic Jeff Koons balloon dogs, graphic plates, moss, stones and a vessel of bread and potato chips (homemade and a signature) beckons guests.
Folks who love themes for the table should look for accent sets like this gingerbread serverware collection ($19.50 — $49.50), and pair them with the basics as a nod to one of the holiday's sweetest traditions.