Share with your friends!

Patricia Murray, owner of Table Matters in Birmingham, Alabama, chimes in on holiday decorating today to give us tips to overcome those stressful moments when setting the table for all of your upcoming Christmas and holiday parties. Take it away, Patricia!



Christmas is truly my favorite holiday. I always get in the spirit of the season, probably a little sooner than others, because we do our holiday windows at Table Matters as soon as Halloween is over. The children start asking when their elf is coming and they begin working on their Christmas lists, and we start redoing the entire store at Table Matters for the holidays.

Most people entertain more during the holidays than any time of year, but they’re also busier this time of year and just need a little help when creating their tablescape. My mind starts working as soon as a customer walks through the door with their china or pottery asking for help! From updated placemats or fresh napkins to gold leafed garland or mercury glass trees, I love putting the whole ensemble together to complete our client’s entertaining style.



Ranging from 6″ to 20″ and from $100 to $300, these Simon Pearce handblown trees add elegance and beauty to any tablescape. These trees are rich and luminous, so its nice to nestle them into a few white twinkle lights for added sparkle and ambiance. These Vermont Evergreen Glass Trees are handblown in Quiche, Vermont, and are stunning down the center of a table or mixed with other trees on your mantle. Not too dressy and not too casual, so the trees fall right into place in any home!


Now if you really want to add bling to your table (yes, we see fashion trends in tabletop), then mix mercury glass trees ($12 to $32) of assorted shapes and sizes in with the  silver and gold jeweled trees. Don’t be afraid to mix all shades of silver and gold. Paired with these Kim Seybert satin mats with the glittery champagne border, your holiday tablescape is sure to sparkle! I hear the chatter and clinking of glasses already. Everyone at this table will be JOYOUS!
For the store holiday window, I paired L’Objet Dinnerware with these glamorous silver and gold jeweled trees. These trees can turn any white dinnerware dressy for the holidays! They vary from 12″ to 18″ and are fun to mix in on a mantle with other garland or simply scatter down a table on a mirrored runner. They are also pretty with mercury glass votives which are a holiday table must and can be used year round.
For a little more rustic look, these natural driftwood Christmas trees are an EASY add to your mantle, porch, kitchen island or as a centerpiece on a table for serving. I love the different colors of wood and depth that these trees have. And if you have really tall ceilings in your home, where other normal tabletop trees seem dwarfed, this is your solution. The height on these goes up to 32″.  (They range in size from 19″, 32″, 36″ and are  $58, $168 and $190.) To transition the driftwood into a dressier setting, try wrapping them with a tiny gold or silver glitter garland. Here, we put them with one of my favorite ceramic artisans, Alison Evans. She uses crushed oyster shell in her glazes, and I think the Mint & Tortoise is a nice alternative to the traditional red and green santa platter.
Even if you’re not spending Christmas at the beach, these shell clustered trees ($112 – $200) are perfect for the all-white or light and airy house. If all the red and green overwhelms you during the Holidays, then these are a nice alternative for the haute design conscious! Place these on a chest in your foyer or on the mantle of a large family room. Then dream about life at the beach after the hustle and bustle of the Holidays!
Here I used a red and green plaid cloth from Belgium with Astier de Villatte dinnerware nestled in Bark & Twig Chargers ($22 each). To compliment the chargers, I used a mixture of pine cone trees, white twig trees and a few light bark ones with silver sparkle on them.
More beautiful trees, shown below in the next three photos:

If you don’t have time to pop in to see our beautiful linens, custom tablecloths, holiday placemats, wreaths, garland, and ornaments,  then visit our website at

Here are 5 tips for hosting a successful holiday dinner party:

  1. Try to let the table be a reflection of you and the rest of your home. If you and your home are formal, then proceed with pomp and circumstance. If your guests will be in blue jeans, then put away the fine china,  throw a flannel plaid blanket across the table and go find some antlers or horn pieces to accessorize with.
  2. Decorate your table based on the dinnerware. If using a dressy gold-rimmed china, then go for elegant down the middle of your table for your centerpiece.  Try sparkling silver or gold trees. If using whimsical and casual dinnerware with Santas, then dress your table with rustic trees made out of wood or twig and mix in red candles.
  3. If my guests are being seated for dinner, then I want them to be able to talk over and between my table decorations. I don’t want my flowers too massive or my trees so thick that it creates a wall down the center of the table. If I’m just using the table for serving, then I usually always use a cloth and pull everything in a little tighter in the middle to create more space around the edge for serving pieces.
  4. I get asked a lot, “What do I do if my flatware is silver? Is it ok to use gold chargers, runners, or placemats?”  The answer is Yes!!! I love to mix silver and gold. Now there are so many interesting things made out of mercury glass, and it is much more affordable than sterling. It’s very reflective and stylish to mix in with basically anything you have on your table.
  5. Don’t be afraid to entertain!! Friends really do enjoy being invited into your home to be served. What a wonderful way to thank someone for being around throughout the year. If you’re not comfortable doing a seated dinner, than make several different flatbread pizzas to serve throughout the night and spend your time creating a fun cocktail. The effort will not go unnoticed! And if all else fails, then call me! Nothing would make me happier than advising you on how to effortlessly pull off a fun evening with friends and family.
Patricia Murray, owner of Table Matters in Birmingham, Alabama, is a Homewood resident, wife and mother of two. She grew up in Arkansas with parents and grandparents who loved to entertain and discovered her love for retail and tabletop in a store called Annie’s in Vail, CO, where she worked during summers in college.
Thanks for these fabulous ideas, Patricia! 
Share with your friends!