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The kids are home from college, the in-laws have taken over your couches and your resources are exhausted.
Between all the food and alcohol you've spent on entertaining and the amount of small-talk conversations you've had with distant relatives who you see only once a year, the holidays can get quite stressful. And they're stressful enough without you having to come up with a detailed seating chart or remembering which side of the plate forks and knives belong.
To make your season entertaining plans a little less taxing, we've consulted our home decor guru Will Taylor on his top tips to get into the holiday spirit and set the *perfect* winter tablescape.
"During the holidays, the dinner table becomes the center of the home as friends and family gather to celebrate the season," Taylor told AOL Lifestyle. "Having a beautiful tablescape elevates the whole house and creates a stylish, cozy space for everyone to gather."
"My top three tips are to arrange things in odd numbers, balance your use of patterns and solids, and mix up the heights of your centerpiece items to create a visually pleasing tablescape." Taylor, who uses Marshalls as one of his first shopping destinations, abides by these four steps to curating the perfect ambiance.
STEP ONE: TABLECLOTHS AND RUNNERS
"If you are feeling stuck, I always say start at the bottom and work your way up. Look for a tablecloth that speaks to the color palette or direction you want to take the overall scheme, such as metallic, cabin plaid, traditional, etc. Don’t stress if you are having a hard time finding a tablecloth to match your table’s shape — simply skip it and let the table top serve as your base for the tablescape. In this instance, a runner down the center of the table is perfect for adding pattern, texture and color to the table. Plus, runners look great on round, square and rectangular tables so they are a versatile piece to have in your entertaining arsenal."
STEP TWO: MIX PATTERNS AND SOLIDS
"Don’t feel constrained to have everything match — an eclectic, gathered tabletop look is ideal for the holidays! Consider a striped runner alongside plaid napkins, for example. Once you have your base in place, balance solids and patterns throughout the table. Use chargers as an opportunity to inject texture to each place setting, complimented by natural jute or raw wood. Woven placements with a metallic thread work equally as well if you prefer more of a glam look. But, don’t be fooled, this eclectic strategy doesn’t have to be expensive by any means as a little money can go a long way to achieve a balance of solids and patterns at each place setting."
STEP THREE: GLASSWARE AND FLATWARE
"The holidays are for celebration and joy so it’s definitely the time to have fun with glassware on the table! I recently found some stunning handmade glasses adorned with gold reindeers at Marshalls — I instantly fell in love with them and they bring that element of unique whimsy that I believe every winter tablescape should have. Glassware with metallic embellishments and ribbing are also perfect to make a winter table sparkle. For flatware, I almost always opt for black or gold. Gold gives the overall tablescape a more luxe and celebratory feel and black exudes a modern, farmhouse feel that’s perfect against a natural wood tabletop."
STEP FOUR: THE CENTERPIECE
"The star of any table is the centerpiece, but don’t think expensive fresh florals are necessary. Instead, use items you may already have in unexpected ways and supplement with holiday décor that you’ll have in your arsenal for years to come. For example, a cake stand can be the stage for a trio of your favorite holiday décor. I always have huge success filling my cart with high-end décor including wreaths, tabletop trees, candles, ornaments and even holiday lights. Take these amazing finds and arrange them in odd numbers — think threes or fives — and try to group items in differing heights to give visual interest and balance to the centerpiece. For example, if you use a snow globe as one of the items, then add a tall wooden tree to add height, and finally a medium-sized candle that sits between the two."