By Greer Krige
Over the holiday season, we enjoy entertaining family and friends - with the covid restrictions in place, hosting at home will be even more commonplace. So, take the time to make an Instagrammable table setting that you can be proud of. Have fun, experiment and let your personality shine through.
How to Set a Festive Table:
1. As always - layering is vital. Begin with a base - table cloth or tabletop - wood etc. Build up with placements, a runner, underplates, napkins, crockery, cutlery, glassware and striking centrepieces.
2. Be creative with the centrepiece. We all love a good bouquet; however, centrepieces need not be floral. Consider a glass bowl with bright fruit like granny smith apples, lemons, oranges, pinecones or a bowl of metallic Christmas tree baubles, a branch decorated with festive ornaments or spray-painted gold for a Midas touch.
3. Let it shine. Lighting should be soft and subtle; warmer toned incandescent is more flattering. Candles emit incandescent light, which is great for ambience. They are available in various shapes and sizes, it's best to avoid strongly scented candles for the table, as they can overpower the food. You don't need your aged Bordeaux tasting like pinecones.
4. Personal touches. Be creative and add personal, finishing touches to your table. Tie ribbon or twine around the napkins and thread in tiny ornaments, seedpods, sprigs of rosemary or lavender etc.
There are so many options, but I've narrowed down 3 colour palettes and table décor styles. I've also suggested products from the clever folk at Plain Tiger who have done the hard work to ensure that all the items are ethically sourced, comply with fair trade regulations, are slow made, from sustainable materials and cruelty-free with no hidden nasties. So you can feel confident that you're supporting the planet and small businesses. Feel free to adapt as you wish.
A combination of shades of rich russet, olive green, amber and ochre and grounding black pulling all together. The Metallic Bogolan Tablecloth is jacquard woven with French linen and African Cotton. Crafted by African Jacquard and inspired by the traditional geometric Bogolan designs of Mali that date back centuries, this tablecloth will bring a touch of African style and contemporary flair to any dining room. Available in a variety of sizes; from a 4 seater up to a 20 seater, and can be customized too.
A beautiful glassware set in glowing amber consists of a short tumbler, tall tumbler and carafe, all hand blown from 100% recycled glass. Each carafe is fitted with a custom hand turned light cork closure—the product of a collaboration between Wiid Design in Cape Town and Ngwenya Glass in Swaziland.
Coralbloom Moraea Cotton Napkin Set featuring original artworks of the delicate Moraea- an iris-like bulb plant, painted by Ann C. Jooste and printed on a fresh green background, brings in some delicate patterning. Basketry's curated collection of African inspired trays - The Illala palm fibres are picked up along the shores of lakes in Southern Africa, then boiled and mixed with local plants to obtain various colours in natural dyes. Designed to be used in everyday life - use as platters on the table but also make for beautiful, striking wall art.
Hand Sculpted, hand-poured, and hand-finished, chai, vanilla and sandalwood scented Bodice Candle from Ulgi Candles - are eye-catching in their organic shapes and make a beautiful addition to this look. The aim is a layering of complementary tones inspired by shades of nature. To finish off the look, bring in on-trend floral arrangement of dried foliage, twiggy branches, hydrangeas and pampas grass and so on in more warm earthy shades.
Shades of Greige
A softer take on the typical monochrome classic combo of black and white by introducing tones of beige and grey – greige- which are variations of black and white. They soften the contrast for a calm graduation; the key is to bring in varied patterns and textures so that it's not bland and one dimensional.
Start with a white or off white linen table cloth, layer with grey dinnerware, patterned linen napkins, and candles, black cutlery, and clear glass to create a neutral base that doesn't require special holiday elements. Instead, add seasonal notes with pinecones and penny gum or olive branch trimmings- sprayed with white or black paint or suspend a few simple black-and-white paper stars to add a note of holiday whimsy.
Build on the base. A Skinny laMinx table runner screen-printed on a natural fibre base cloth using water based inks is a great addition. Note done add: This one here is Tall Protea design in Charcoal. Mix and match napkins such as the SunnySide and Pincushion designs from Skinny laMinx with Coralbloom Botanical Cotton Napkins, featuring original artworks of botanical greenery painted by Ann C. Jooste and printed on a striking black background.
The Ingénuité Round Placemats will add a touch of elegance to your place settings. Felt made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and laser cut. The Paarl basket Food Domes - handwoven with a centre cane (the raw cane at the centre of the cane) have slight variances in size and colour and bring in natural charm to what can be a harsh look. Paper Blondie's Side Face Ceramic Dishes are perfect for little touches on the table, such as nuts, olives, choccies. They are pretty and practical. Each is handmade, and thus no two are exactly alike.
Flawsome Bowl. Adorn your festive holiday table with this soft beige pink and terrazzo bowl that can be used to display fresh fruit or nuts, a candle, or it can even be used as a salt pot. Handcast from eco-friendly stone. For the beverages - the Clear glass set from Wiid Design- in collaboration with Ngwenya Glass, is and blown from 100% recycled glass is a perfect accompaniment. And finally - let there be light, with a small Twisted Sister Box Set in Cream from Via Wax – they are high-shine candles made by hand- elegant yet organically sculptural too.
Bright and bold epitomized by classic floral elements such as this gorgeous linen tablecloth titled Summer Garden from Studio Isabel Sippel. Bring in bold solids like this modern server/ sideboard from Sybaris and smalls like the Via Wax Small Twisted Sister Box Set in Lilac & Orange Ombrè. Add some quirk with the Love Handles vase from Dangeroux- LXXII to instill a sense of fun, so it's not all too classic.
Ceramic tumblers from Woven Ceramics in Black Body with Pine Forest Glaze can be mixed and matched in various designs and sizes. Both hot and cold beverages - eggnog, spiced wine or festive cocktails can be served in these lovely vessels.
This look is always typified by 'more is more'- over the top combinations of colour and pattern. The Emanti Pulp Vase Long Handle and Ngimi Pulp Vase Squiggle from Quazi are handmade paper pulp vases made from 100% waste newspaper and varnished for durability- they are bright and perfect for holding these items. And of course, copious amounts of flowers, potted plants, bowls of bright fruits as centerpieces are essential.