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Southern Style
Enjoy holiday decorating
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    Holidays bring out the creative side in all of us.  It is a time for decorating and entertaining family and friends.  Getting our homes ready for guests can be done with enjoyment if we are organized. Dining rooms and kitchens have long been gathering spots when family and friends get together.  The table is the key focal point in dining areas. This is where you can be creative and set your decorating theme and level of formality.
    A casual table can be set with a woodland theme. Rattan chargers and plaid napkins can start off this table setting. White or red dishes with coordinating glasses or coffee mugs bring in the Christmas colors. Depending on your table size, one or three glass hurricane globes with candles inside and can be placed in the center of the table. Surround these with pinecones, nuts, and sticks from the outdoors to continue the woodland theme. If you have access to deer antlers, place these in the mix of pinecones and camouflage the bone of the rack with your pinecones, etc. Try to stick with one color theme such as the colors in your chosen napkins. Match as many items to these colors as possible. Pinecones that will sit without rolling on their sides can become place card holders.
    An elegant table can be set with formal china. Choose a color to go with your china such as gold and start your table decorating from there. Begin to look for gold ornaments, tassels, and balls.  Glass hurricane globes are so versatile. For an elegant table, fill the hurricane globes with gold Christmas balls and drape loosely curled ribbon around the globes on the center of the table.  You could also use a formal table runner or scarf loosely bunched up under the globe to give depth to your table arrangement. Gold curling ribbon can be used as napkin rings. Be generous in the amount of ribbon used and curl large bunches on each napkin. Crystal and glass pieces lend more formality to this type of table setting. Add an abundance of clear glass votives by scattering them around the center of the table. Use non-scented votive candles around food.  The use of white is popular this year. A mix of white Christmas ornaments, ribbons, and snowflakes can be made to look quite formal and elegant.
    If you have Christmas china, use this as your inspiration. Something such as snowmen or trees on your china can give you direction for color choices and items to gather for your table center. A group of three to five snowmen or small Christmas trees can start you off. Using coordinating ribbon curled and draped among your snowmen or tress gives a playful look. Also, empty boxes wrapped in paper to match your theme can be used as pedestals to elevate one or two snowmen or trees. This will give depth to the tablescape. Don’t hide your china with a napkin placed on top of it. Consider folding your napkin and placing it under the plate so that it hangs over the edge of the table and is partially visible.
    When planning to entertain, start as soon as possible and make lists for guests, the menu, and shopping. Keep the lists with you so that you know what you need to do when running errands. After inviting guests, dress your table first so that you can be enjoying it through out the season. Organize your lists by stores. Buy non perishables and prepare as much as possible ahead of time. For large parties, set food and beverages at different locations so that guests are not crowded in one spot. For really large parties, get other family members or good friends to help when they offer. Most people love to help out. If children are involved, give them jobs such as collecting coats or clearing dishes. This begins their training of southern hospitality!
    Focus your house cleaning on the areas to be seen by guests and make sure your bathrooms are spotless. You may want to close off rooms that are not being used. Christmas or monogrammed napkins and scented Christmas candles (if they can be safely used) are a nice touch in the bathroom areas.
    Do everything you can ahead of time so you can eliminate stress. Double check your lists a day ahead. With a beautiful table set ahead of time and food planned and prepared, you are ready to serve your guests. Enjoy the wonderful time you have planned to open your home to family and friends.  Merry Christmas!
    Rebecca Masters is a teacher who enjoys gardening, decorating, and entertaining. She can be reached at 912.764.5413 or
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