Holidays tend to draw out the sentimental in all of us, eliciting childhood memories of sweet sights, sounds and aromas at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Not the least of this nostalgia focuses on the holiday table, where the tried-and-true turkey dressings and favorite family recipes for sweet potato casserole usually win out over the trendy, although serving an unexpected side dish can go a long way to shake things up a bit.
The same is true of setting the table. You don’t have to go all fashionista and edge out your grandmother’s pretty porcelain dishes or your mother-in-law’s fancy flatware in favor of a more stylish pattern du jour, but feel free to mix in some new pieces for a fresh vibe.
New York interior designer Tara Seawright offered this suggestion during a recent panel at the fall tabletop show in New York: “I like mixing flatware in one table setting.” She daringly teams fancy and ornate, such as Christofle, with something modern and edgy, like Lucite.
It’s a cool idea, and can be applied not only to flatware but to tableware and glassware as well. One of the eye-grabbing trends in glasses, for example, is color — both in opaque and sheer styles. So why not introduce a shade of plum, amber or merlot to mix with your go-to stems? It doesn’t matter if one is faceted St. Louis or William Yeoward; crystal or glass with a good shape will fit right in. Besides, that’s what the best of high-low aficionados do — team high-end with something from Target.
With white porcelain and earthenware and even some patterns that don’t shout out a specific color, you may take liberties with the palette by drawing from Mother Nature. Thanksgiving tables traditionally rely on autumnal hues — pumpkin, the brilliance of red maple, and other golden and orange leaves. But equally engaging are shades of aubergine and magenta, perhaps inspired by ornamental cabbages, which really mix well with those apricots, sage and an occasional lime.
The turkey is, of course, the star of the Thanksgiving table. And each year, there seems to be a new flock of dinnerware and serving accessories that add to rich classics, such as vintage Spode earthenware.
Some new interpretations are shapely decorative pieces or tureens, such the metal and ceramic bowls and butter dishes at Pottery Barn. Others depict images that are hand-painted or have an artisanal look. Such dinnerware often is priced in sets of four, which makes it more affordable as accent pieces. Layering turkey salad or dessert plates over white or solid color plates can make quite the statement, or you can always add a turkey platter or two — simple, fun ways to update your Thanksgiving table.
Nadja Brykina, a gallery owner specializing in Russian art from the second half of the 20th century to the present, says she loves extravagant and glamorous table decorations for special evenings. “I set my dark dining table with tableware in sensual colors: red, fuchsia and berry, and finish with accessories in gold and silver. … At Christmas, I also add crystalline balls that twinkle seductively.”
Villeroy & Boch took a cue from Brykina’s holiday page with a setting of bordered dinner plates in red cherry and a delicious shade called pink rose. Almost playful is a geometric pattern in hues of blue, red and orange.