holiday decorating ideas: tabletop styling
Posted in christmas ideas, handmade December 4th, 2008 by piablog

(photograph by me, taken from this post.)

It is snowing here in Amsterdam again today. It’s always a treat for me to see snow falling from the sky. Even though I’ve lived through a number of snowy winters in my life (there are many Australians who have never seen snow), I still to this day find it so magical. And it is the perfect inspirational backdrop to share with you my (blog)house holiday tabletop theme of white, warmth, shadows & textures.

First let’s start with your bare table. A beautiful tablecloth is always the basis for a beautiful table setting. I like to keep my tablecloths simple so that the setting can do all the talking. Here are some that I like that fit the moodboard perfectly…

clockwise from top left:

1. UK fabric house namolio has some gorgeous linens in stock at the moment. Although this one is on the ‘shadow’ side of my white theme, it would make a lovely backdrop for a holiday tabletop setting. Your setting will stand out against the dark cloth and look very dramatic. This linen is sold by the 1/2 metre for $7.50.

2. plain white cotton napkins – you can never have enough (I have a drawer full of them and mix + match for shoots). These particular ones are rather special – they are handmade in romania and are 80% hemp, 20% cotton. The materials used in these linens were organically grown on family farms, then harvested, processed and spun by hand. Available from Branch Home, $38 for 4.

3. I love this hand-embroidered snowflake tablecloth from jodii. Its 100% linen and measures 160cm x 160cm. $530. made in germany.

4. This handprinted linen + cotton fabric from maramkiki would make a beautiful tabletop cloth. $40 per yard (57″ wide). chicago.


stylist’s tip: If you have just a plain white or cream tablecloth, you can add layers to create texture. Use similar coloured fabric remnants to lay over your plain cloth base or display a few vintage doilies – I have a collection of vintage cotton doilies in my props cupboard for just such occassions. Keep an eye out for some in your local vintage shops and markets, as well as ebay. I styled a Christmas tabletop story for maria magazine using some of my doilies (I promise to show you soon).


After you’ve chosen your tablecloth, you can get started on adding textural elements. As you know I am loving the use of feathers lately…

…and I found these stunning feathers for cindy k’s request yesterday. They are hand collected from a free range farm in Texas, carefully washed and dried, ready for using for decoration. (note: make sure the feathers you purchase are properly cleaned. Also try to source them from your local farms rather than commercial craft warehouses.)

Next, scatter some beeswax tealights around and light them! I can’t help but light the candles while I’m decorating as it adds mood and helps my inspiration flow. It’s also handy to see where the candles are most appropriate to place. Make sure you leave lots of room in the centre of your table for the centre piece and platters of food.


Now for the centrepiece. And what will it be? a simple collection of milk glass candleholders and vases…

I’ve selected these ones from sister’s vintage in orlando. All together these pieces are just $27. Fill them with tall white candles and single flower sprays and you have yourself a festive centrepiece that will look gorgeous by day & night. Place some tealight candles around the bottom and a few extra feathers. Step back and assess your masterpiece. The beauty with milk glass is that it mixes so well with clear glass and silver cutlery – once all your glasses and silverware and white plates are on the table, the milk glass adds a sophisticated softness to the table arrangement. And you can find milk glass at your local bric a brac store – just start a collection in one of your cupboard shelves and you can pull pieces from it for serving your various dishes (I also like this jug, these bud vases, and this serving platter)


And last but not least, the extra touches…

clockwise from top left:

1. rae dunn customised napkin rings. $22 for two.san fransisco.

2. a mix of vintage buttons to add to your plain white napkins, or tablecloth, or use with ribbon to make pretty napkin rings. 65 buttons for $10 from button contructions.

3. nesting bowls by sara paloma. $160. san fransisco.

4. cake plates from baileys home and garden. £18.

5. milk glass compote from callooh callay, $9.

6. oatmeal fig tea towel from lotta helleberg. $24.


So there you have it! I hope you find inspiration in this selection, do let me know.

coming up next… have your tree ready because I have a fabulous selection of festive ornaments in store…

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  1. Stephanie says

    So many beautiful ideas. I’m loving all the feathers lately. We’re thinking of decorating our tree in white feathers this year. I’m looking forward to your post tomorrow.

    December 4th, 2008 | #

  2. dan-ah says

    love this… thank you for sharing tips & ideas, it’s great 🙂

    December 4th, 2008 | #

  3. Danielle says

    oh milk glass is so wonderful! i use it to display jewelry in my shop sometimes. it is such a beautiful element and SO AFFORDABLE. Love this whole mood!

    December 4th, 2008 | #

  4. Maia says

    I love the grayscale layout, with the snow on chestnuts as a precedent. Beautiful. It is snowing in Colorado today too and I am feeling in a similar mood.

    December 4th, 2008 | #

  5. Dana says

    Pia, this was a lovely post. I particularly enjoyed the tips and styling points – I had never considered the table or simple decorations as much. Thank you. Your blog is incredible.

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  6. Yoli says

    Pia can you hand me the banana cake? My mouth is watering…sigh. I love your pale inspiration.

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  7. Anairam says

    Lovely Christmas decorating and gidt ideas! I spent this evening making decorations – my colour scheme is sort of whites and creams, with black and silver!

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  8. ruth says

    I love this post!

    I love feathers too, in fact I managed to source some for my etsy store too (, if anyone’s interested). Feathers on ribbons.

    Love the table cloth too!

    Thank you for sharing!

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  9. all things bright and beautiful says

    Gorgeous post Pia 🙂

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  10. Tartelette says

    The Christmas table is always something my grandmother and mom planned together..the whole house decorating actually!! I really enjoy doing the same now that I am away. Love the idea of the feathers!

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  11. aran says

    i love the white and grey tones you are using here. this is how i would want to do my table too. lovely pia.

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  12. jennifer says

    love this pia! and grey is my favorite color…

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  13. Liberty Post Editor says

    Wonderful ideas. Thank you so much Pia. You are overflowing with talent.

    December 5th, 2008 | #

  14. sofia says

    snow, I love snow too I especially like the silence that happens when is snow falling, it is magic, it really is and like you in my country there is no snow so the first time I saw snow I was 18 and I got stucked because of a snow storm for 5 days on top of a mountain in Switzerland, I was enchanted and I fell in love with snow and all the silence and purety that comes with it. The white blanket.

    Love this the dollies idea for the table is great 🙂

    December 6th, 2008 | #

  15. lynne says

    stunning images/ideas!
    and so happy you have snow!

    December 6th, 2008 | #

  16. kosenrufu mama says

    stunning white ideas….

    December 6th, 2008 | #

  17. cindy k says

    i just received my feathers and they are so beautiful. thank you, pia!

    December 11th, 2008 | #


    […] first is an introduction to holiday gift ideas. The second is a guide to holiday decorating ideas: tabletop styling, ornaments, gift wrapping and holiday art. (I really love this second series – we are not having a […]

    January 15th, 2009 | #

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