Holiday Tablescapes from Nature

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It is that magical time of the year when the weather nips at your nose and there are countless holiday celebrations with friends and family. Almost every weekend is filled with activities.

This busy time of year leaves you little time to decorate your table, and your money may be allocated to gifts and charitable causes. Fear not! The key to universal holiday décor this season is to turn to nature. Here are tips to create two versions of your own natural winter table design with three simple steps.

The Greenery Tablescape Design
This tablescape concept embraces the natural green texture that comes with the typically bitter-cold season of winter, the fir tree. Keeping the design low so that dinner guests can enjoy conversation across the table is an important functional piece of the design as well. Using greenery embraces a natural look with three easy steps.

Finding and Buying Materials
It can give great satisfaction to gather your own greenery, either from your yard or in your neighborhood. Find a fir, pine or evergreen tree in your neighborhood. With your neighbor’s permission, of course, snip a few small lower branches that, when doubled up and layered, will extend the length of your table. The next step is to find a few small twigs that are shorter than the pine or evergreen branches. Finally, collect pine cones, holly or other berries and your favorite white flowers from your local florist or grocery store. If greenery is hard to find in your neighborhood, most nurseries stock evergreen garland during the holiday season.

Designing the Foundation
Once you have gathered greenery and accessories, it’s time to design the table. Take two full branches and mirror them along the length of the table, with the cut ends in the center of the table. The full branch ends will stop just short of the table settings at each end. Next, begin to layer the larger tree branches toward the center of the table on either side. The berries should be layered on top, toward the middle, interspersed with the twigs. Since the twigs are shorter, they should be closer to the center of the table. At this point the greenery should mirror itself and fill the length of the table.

Placing the Final Touches
The last step is to add the accents, such as flowers, pine cones and candles, that personalize and bring life to the arrangement. Keeping the table design low, find a few small containers, such as votives, miniature Mason jars or teacups, to put a few white flowers in the center, using well-soaked floral foam to keep them fresh. Once you are happy with that design, place pine cones around the center, hiding the branch ends and creating a more fluid design.

Finally, add candles along the edges of the branches, where there may be a gap that needs a final touch. To keep your branches fresh as long as possible, mist them regularly and keep the floral foam moist. Alternatively, before you begin developing the design, soak the greenery in water and apply a foliage sealer or antidessicant to keep it from drying out too fast.

Fruitful Tablescape Design
This arrangement embraces the holiday season through fruit, making it colorful and fragrant. This design also follows the important functional concept of keeping the décor low, making dinner conversation flow.

Finding and Buying Materials
The base material of this design is seeded eucalyptus, which can be purchased from a floral supply warehouse. There are two types of eucalyptus; make sure to pick the seeded variation, as it will sit flatter on the table; the larger leaves and interesting seed pods will create a more bountiful design. Seeded eucalyptus will also dry nicely throughout the season. Also purchase apples, clementines, pomegranates or another fruit that is seasonally available in your area. Choose only one fruit for the table theme.

Designing the Foundation
Layer the pieces of seeded eucalyptus along the length of the table with the cut stems facing the center. The sides should mirror each other; create light, open layers.

Placing the Final Touches
Arrange the fruit around the seeded eucalyptus asymmetrically, but create balance on both sides. Lastly, take tea lights in teacups or glass containers and fill the rest of the space. This simple fruitful design will be bountiful and welcoming to all of your guests.

Both basic designs can be adapted to a family or faith tradition that you would like to reflect. Red and green, blue and silver, and white and gold symbols and ornaments personalize and at the same time welcome everyone into your home during this holiday season. ■

Sources: and the experience of the author.