The holidays are squarely upon us, and 'tis the season for gathering with friends and family. Whether you are hosting a family Christmas dinner, having a few neighbors over for a dinner party, or simply dressing up your table to be more festive, creating a beautiful centerpiece doesn't have to be time consuming or expensive.
Alex and I recently hosted a scotch tasting and dinner party at our house during Alexandria's Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend. The weekend celebrates Alexandria's Scottish heritage, as the city was named for Scotsman John Alexander, an original founder of the city and owner of much of its land. The weekend features a festive parade, a holiday tour of homes (here's a look back to when our home was on the tour lineup), a heather and greens sale, and many more yule tide and Scottish inspired festivities. Hands down, it's our favorite weekend of the year in Alexandria, and in our household, officially marks the start of the Christmas season.
Getting ready for the party seemed a bit overwhelming, because it not only meant preparing for a dinner event, but it also meant making sure our home was properly decked out for the holidays. We had a tree to buy and decorate...
...exterior window wreaths to hang...
...and miscellaneous touches to ensure our home was properly festive.
So when it came to designing our table for the event, I didn't have a lot of time or energy to spare. That's where less than $10.00 in grocery store flowers came to the rescue.
Focusing on the tablescape as a whole and keeping in mind the theme of the weekend, I knew I wanted to use tartan to decorate our table, while keeping in mind the somewhat rustic Highlands of Scotland. To balance off the pattern of the tartan and add a rustic texture, I set the table with a base "tablecloth" of burlap and topped it with two tartan runners, all of which we had on hand thanks to when we participated in the home tour.
While the intent is to keep the feeling somewhat Highlands rustic, we also want it to feel like a sophisticated event. As a result, It's one of the few, if only nights of the year, we break out our wedding china and stemware (largely due to the fact it isn't dishwasher safe). Our china is a simple white pattern with a platinum edge, which I paired with white dinner napkins and silver chargers.
I didn't want the centerpiece to compete with the tartan runners, and also didn't want a floral centerpiece to be so tall it physically interfered with conversation. So I opted to use two matching low glass vases I had on hand, along with a simple yet elegant color palette of green and white. I purchased two bunches of flowers at our local grocery store -- a dozen white roses and a small cluster of green berries.
In order to bulk up the arrangement, I added in some fresh cut greenery from our yard as well as a few trimmed lower branches from our Christmas tree. (Tip: I've found that if you don't have enough of your own trimmed branches on hand, many times businesses selling Christmas trees are happy to give you any of their extra cuttings at no charge. I then use these branches for mantel decor, arrangements around the house, exterior decorations, etc.)
I set out to create two identical centerpieces, so I began by trimming and then arranging six roses in each vase.
I make sure I trim off some of the leaves to keep them all above the water, but I leave those on above the water line for fullness and color.
After I had the roses arranged the way I wanted them, I repeated the process with the berries and fresh greenery so that the two centerpieces were the mirror images of each other, and put them on the table with a few tea lights around them.
All in all, I am really happy with how the centerpieces came together both on their own and as part of the table setting. At less than $5.00 each and five minutes of effort to put them together, I'd call it a win.
The evening was a ton of fun, and the entire night served as a lovely kickoff for the holiday season.
It was a great excuse to don kilts (yes, three of the four men present were wearing them!), enjoy the company of friends and neighbors, sample delicious food and whiskey, and celebrate the season.