Living Entertaining:

My 3 Tablescape Tenets to Create a Dreamy Holiday Setting

I genuinely believe in the power of beauty. My motto for a meal, big or small is this: simple ideas, thoughtfully executed. When it comes to decorating my table, I have a holistic approach. I turn to the meal for inspiration and will take elements that I’m actually cooking with to adorn my table—this applies to my holiday tablescape, too. So, as we all prepare to gather with loved ones this year, I wanted to share a few of my tablescape tenets that might help you create a dreamy, intimate setting.

My 3 Tablescape Tenets to Create a Dreamy Holiday Setting

Let Your Menu Be Your Guide

In my opinion, there is no reason to spend extra money on pricey florals. As I shop for ingredients, I also look for items to use in the décor, too. For example, I’ll grab some richly-colored concord grapes, so that everything on the table is both beautiful and edible, and nothing is wasteful.

My 3 Tablescape Tenets to Create a Dreamy Holiday Setting
My 3 Tablescape Tenets to Create a Dreamy Holiday Setting

Consider Seasonality 

My first stop when planning any menu or tablescape design is the farmer’s market. The rich cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, and herbs is always the launchpad for the meals I create, and the decorations that bring the table to life—a little pomegranate to garnish the salad also doubles as beautiful décor across the table. Using seasonal elements in the food and finishing makes the dinner a celebration of the abundance that the season brings.

My 3 Tablescape Tenets to Create a Dreamy Holiday Setting

Keep It Simple

Try not to overfill the table with too many decorations or flowers that obstruct the view. Take Coco Chanel’s approach and step back from the table to see if you can take one thing off. Every setting, but especially a holiday tablescape, should feel comforting, warm, and inviting to encourage engaging conversation and merriment. You don’t want decorative obstructions on the table that prevent guests from speaking freely across the table. So keep it simple and focus on a few key pieces that make your table feel special without compromising the mood.

My 3 Tablescape Tenets to Create a Dreamy Holiday Setting
My 3 Tablescape Tenets to Create a Dreamy Holiday Setting

Ready to get started? Keep reading for my Meyer Lemon Ricotta Toasts With Blistered Grapes recipe, then shop some of our favorite pieces to create a magical holiday tablescape for your guests this year. 

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Toasts with Blistered Grapes

Athena Calderone, Cook Beautiful

Ingredients

SERVES 4 TO 6

12 ounces seedless red or black grapes

4 sprigs fresh tarragon, divided Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling Salt and freshly cracked pepper 1 cup fresh ricotta

1⁄2 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced 4 slices crusty bread

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Saba or syrupy balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spread the grapes across a baking sheet and top them with 2 tarragon sprigs. Drizzle with oil and toss the grapes until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Roast the grapes until they have just started to burst, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, discard the tarragon, and squeeze the lemon juice evenly over the grapes.

While the grapes are roasting, use a wire whisk to combine the ricotta and lemon zest.

Just before you’re ready to serve the crostini, heat up the broiler. Place the bread on a baking sheet and drizzle it lightly with oil on both sides. Broil until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side depending on the strength of your broiler. Let the toasts cool slightly. Pluck the leaves from the remaining tarragon sprigs. Spread the ricotta mixture over each slice of bread and top with the grapes and pine nuts. Finish with a sprinkle of tarragon and a drizzle of saba.

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