Dressing Down the Holiday Table

What a day!  This morning I woke up early enough.  Enjoyed my morning cup of cawfee then got dressed and gathered.

No warm and fuzzy plaid today.  I’m dressed for  ironing! At lease my tee has a “red” theme!

I gathered all the cloth napkins, a few tablecloths and table runners that I plan to use for the Holiday meals.  The tree skirt and an apron were also thrown into the mix.

This is just a sampling of the wrinkled mess that confronted me!

And I went downstairs and ironed. And ironed. And ironed.

Doesn’t everyone iron cloth napkins?

In fact, I spent three hours ironing.

And while I ironed, Chippy watched morning TV as comfortable as ever.  There is something so wrong about this..

When he looked down at the remote, it meant I had to change the channel for him.  He’s a big fan of The View!

I managed to iron all of this…

…and this…

….and this.

And when the ironing was finished, Chippy allowed me  a bit of time to sit down and watch The Chew!

Despite the worst title you can give a TV show, The Chew is surprisingly great TV!!!

It’s all part of the Holiday preparations.  The house will be full.  The kids will be here and Oona’s boyfriend will be arriving the day after Christmas and stay through the week.

Christmas dinner’s table will be set with places for my kids, Bonaparte’s daughter, her husband and their daughter and my ex-husband and his girlfriend will be joining us.

I need to get as much done as possible.  I’ve got cookie dough, cream puffs, pound cake and gougères that I’ve prepared in the freezer.

Alain Ducasse’s Gougeres Recipe is the bomb!  These little nuggets of choux pastry and cheese are in the freezer!

Shortbread has been wrapped in plastic and in the cabinet as well as candied nuts.  The Buche de Noel and Nougatine can be made a few days before Christmas but the biscotti will be baked on Saturday or Sunday.

I made shortbread last night.  I’ll probably do another one tomorrow.  Baking this in a tart pan is so much easier!  When it thaws from being frozen, I’ll cut into wedges and serve with tea.

Candied nuts.  Thank God for Trader Joe’s–the price on nuts is the cheapest ever!!

And part of that preparation is making sure that the table linens are cleaned and pressed.  It isn’t a task that should be put off until the last minute.  By taking care of this now—it’ll mean no stress when the table is to be set.

Look how nice and unwrinkled.  I wish my face was that smooth!

I’m not a formal person by nature.  My vibe, even during the Holidays, is casual and welcoming.  It’s really important for anyone coming into my home to be comfortable and that comes through in the way I dress the table.

My casual table.  This is how it looks now.  We eat dinner here every night.

Luckily, I love the color red—and red being a Christmas color, means that I don’t need to go out and purchase anything more to dress the table.  I like that.  And it sets the tone.

Some of this year’s Poinsettias.  I gotta go get me some more!

See how pretty this little round table off the kitchen looks?  I’m glad I saw this pic. I need to steam the wrinkles out of the burlap tablecloth!  I’m ashamed!

The tone being familiarity and comfort.  I don’t spend a ton of money on my tableware.  Much of it comes from thrift and discount stores.  The good stuff to me, is the company and the food that’s made with love.  Trust me, I try to make everyone feel special and I love a wonderfully set table—it’s just that I keep it incredibly casual.

Plates break.  I come from that home where spilled milk is a major cause for drama so you can just imagine the drama that occurred over any broken china.

This is how I grew up when milk spilled.

And during the Holidays, my mother served food on the good china. And every year someone broke a plate or a bowl.  It wasn’t a good scene.

God forbid someone break a plate…

The drama that ensued was incredible.  Someone always ended up in tears!  This is my childhood Christmas memory.

Perhaps that’s why I keep it underdressed and casual.

My plates, for the most part are solid. Either white, cream or red.  I do have good china—sort of, that I purchased many, many years ago at my favorite thrift store in New Jersey, The Red, White, and Blue Store.  And the money spent was so minimal that it doesn’t matter if a few plates break.

My “good”  American Limoges from the Red White and Blue store. I must have 100 pieces of assorted plates, bowls, serving dishes, cups, saucers, cream and sugar bowls and gravy boats in this pattern.  I paid like twenty five bucks for it all–and nothing has ever broken.                 Yet.

Besides, it’s fun to mix and match—so here’s a few ideas!

My favorite tablecloth is the Moroccan-inspired trellis print.  A white plate with a red soup bowl and a red-dotted napkin look cheerful!

All white against the same cloth.  Those soup bowls are so old that the inside looks a bit wonky but it doesn’t matter.  It’ll be filled with soup! And I have a huge white soup terrine!

A Rooster bowl atop white plates.  This bowl will be great for gumbo!

Looks fancy–the thrifted china against a cream tablecloth.  This may be good for Christmas Eve.  I dunno yet.

Lunch time!  Soup, a sandwich and a cuppa tea–Holiday Style!

I love the red, white red on the bare table.  This wooden table is great because I really don’t need a tablecloth.  I LOVE these paisley napkins!  They are so versatile. Holiday and non-holiday dinners and these napkins always look festive! The napkins are Ralph Lauren and I know that I picked them up at Home Goods for next to nothing!

Same napkin, cream and white plates.

An every-day placemat, white and cream plates and a plaid (weren’t you expecting that from me?) napkin look very Christmasy!

Red napkin, a small rooster plate and another meal has a  different look…

…and the same look can be changed with a different color napkin!

Other touches include this great Lazy Susan I picked up at Home Goods a while ago.  It’ll make things move easier on the table!

And not only does this work well on the table, but…

This will work so well in the Living Room as we have out aperitifs and appetizers.  

This’ll make my hostess duties a lot easier!

Little wine glass markers are also a necessity for holiday entertaining!

They may be slightly kitchy, but these Christmas tree salt and pepper shakers serve a purpose. With 10 people at the table, multiple shakers come in handy!

These rooster shakers are so cute..and if anyone has too much to drink..

They can see what shaker holds salt and which one holds pepper.  It’s on the back!

And now the napkins and tablecloths are stored in the antique dresser in the living room.  Everything is close at hand!

Waiting to make an appearance on Christmas Eve!

Well, that’s about it.  What do you think?  What’s your Holiday style?  Relaxed?  Formal? Casual?  Do tell!!  It’ll be fun to hear what everyone likes!  Do you have a prep-ahead thing that you do? I’m listening?

Yes.  A gentle reminder of what happens AFTER Christmas dinner!!!

And while I’m polishing my silverware, have a listen to Dino singing about Sliver Bells!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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14 Responses to Dressing Down the Holiday Table

  1. Debe says:

    Sooooo I guess I am not in based on your lifestyle.

    My restaurants are on speed dial
    I use that stuff you spray and smooth out wrinkles
    Solo cups are the best
    Paper plates come in Holiday styles

    I am not worthy of your blog. I know someone can win a weekend with you to undergo some serious training! Let me think a essay? Um no, photos of the struggles in cooking? Possible!

    Stay tuned. I love your photos and blogging!

    I am jealous…..sigh

    • Catherine says:

      LOL!! Debe–don’t be jelly!! LOL. I LOVE those Solo Cups–as long as they are the red ones!!! You are soooooooooooo worthy girlfriend!!! XOXOXOXO

  2. Colleen says:

    Love the way you styled your place settings. Good ideas to steal. I’m a blue and white girl most of the year, but I have some cream dishes for special occasions. You have inspired me to be on the hunt for some interesting and cheap dinnerware for the holidays.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Colleen. Yeah. I think for any special occasion or Holiday the inexpensive dinnerware is always fun to search for! LOL–Bonaparte is a blue and white person too!!! XOXOXOXO

  3. Momcat says:

    I think you and I were raised in parallel universes!!! That description of Christmas drama was soooo my life growing up. I detested Christmas. Well my mother made me detest it. Then I got married. To a guy who works for Hallmark. His birthday is December 7th Then I had a child born December 24th. And five years later I had another child born December 21. So after decorating the tree with a gizillion ornaments, baking Christmas cookies by the hundreds, I also got to bake birthday cakes!! The moral is what we resist persists…At least I get 11 months to recover…..
    Your decorating ideas are great…and casual is the only way to go..I am making your biscotti recipe again this year.they were a big hit. Yes get the ironing done early saves so much time. I like to iron up a bunch of tea towels too for covering baking as it cools. ( another OCD thang I inherited from Ma…she said ironing ‘sanitized’ the tea towels.)

  4. Marysue says:

    Love all of it!

  5. Lea says:

    Great post! I also have Ralph Lauren red and green paisley napkins that I picked up for a song at Homesense. And the round red placemats! But what really caught my attention? Those dishes… I grew up with those and still have some if you ever break any! Lol

  6. Judy says:

    Oh Catherine, you’re a woman after my own heart! Advance prep is the name of the game, and the organisation really pays off in the end. Love, love, LOVE your reds and whites and I bet an invitation to your place is one to be treasured. What a great time the blended family is going to have!
    BTW, there’s a great YouTube video about how to fold table napkins in the shape of a Christmas tree. Better if they are green napkins, but your red ones would do just fine. I do these when there are little children coming, and they love them!
    Can’t wait to see more, thank you for sharing all this with us.

  7. Penny says:

    Gosh, Catherine, you and your baking!!! I used to do that – bread, cakes, scones, shortbread, flapjacks, you name it I made it including my clothes. But not any more!!! I buy everything – good quality, as in the best, but I don’t sweat in the kitchen! Life is too short!!! As for my table, ah yes, I do keep to tradition, as I have two tablecloths for Christmas – one is white lace and one is red cotton. The cotton one goes on first and then the lace one, and those come out every time. And they must be 40 years old and more ‘cos they’re my mother’s cloths and I canNOT stop using them. Incidentally there is a bauble on the Christmas tree that was bought by my parents for their first Christmas in England – that would make it 70 years old. It’s gold and one of those glass ones, and I still have it – looking at it now! So I do keep to tradition in some areas! Lots of love xxxxxxxx

  8. Fiona says:

    Your table will look wonderful this Xmas. Me…I use the same old stuff all year round. I don’t have the room to house sets of crockery that are used but once a year. I do decorate the table with candles and pretty napkins of course. Sounds as if you will hit the ground running this festive season. I’ve heard of The View…but The Chew!!?? I thought you were taking the piss! Hah.
    Sad to hear about Johnny Halliday this morning. Xxx

  9. jilly says:

    Hi Catherine,
    I guess if you are as cute as The Chip you get to lie around on the sofa and watch the TV.
    I am in awe of your energy, I spent a lot of my life as a private cook for various very wealthy people and now the very thought of cooking a meal for any more than two makes me feel faint : /
    I’m invited to friends for the great day and usually manage to inveigle an invite somewhere, I feel I’ve earned the rest .
    Best wishes for a wonderful day to you all.
    J xx

  10. HelloIm50ish says:

    I can see you were a busy girl ironing while I was Christmas decorating!
    I love how there is drama over a broken or chipped china. I don’t even know why we add them to our bridal registry when everyone is afraid of using them.
    Mine have never been used,they sit on the table in all their glory but never to enjoy my favorite recipes.
    That’s why from Thanksgiving to December I haul out my Christmas plates and my white generic plates. If one gets a chip, I buy another!
    No drama during the holidays!
    I’m all about getting my merry on!

    Merry Christmas!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Robin! Isn’t it true? I told my daughter to just load up on cheap dinnerware! She loves to entertain and is throwing a few dinner parties pre-Christmas before coming home! It is about getting our Merry on!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

    • vavashagwell says:

      Totally agree on the china thing! I have my mom’s Wedgewood, it’s gorgeous but do I ever use it? NO. Fiestaware for me!

      Catherine, I love your plaid napkins! Those are so versatile!

      Hope everyone has a very happy holiday season!

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