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Christmas Table Decorations | Kitchn

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Caren Rideau is a woman of many talents. She’s an interior designer known for designing bright, functional kitchens; she’s a winemaker who, together with her partner, runs the boutique Tierra y Vino in Santa Ynez, California; and, as of August 2022, she’s an author. Part design inspiration, part entertaining guide, Caren Rideau: Kitchen Designer, Vintner, Entertaining at Home makes us want an invitation to Rideau’s next holiday party (pretty much guaranteed to be epic). The next best thing? Getting Rideau’s top tips for transforming your holiday table from meh to magical this season.

1. Choose pieces that tell a story.

For Rideau, an interesting holiday table is one that’s set with interesting pieces. They might be heirloom serving pieces, glasses purchased in an interesting place, or soup bowls carried home from an interesting adventure. “This always starts conversations with my guests,” she says. “When my guests come to my home I want my table to tell a story.”

Sure, you can buy service for eight in a monotone color, but that can be super blah, says Rideau who picks up colorful pottery everywhere she travels, from Europe and Asia to the U.S. It’s those hand-selected pieces that add a distinct look to her holiday table. “I’m not one of those people that put a beautiful pottery dish in a closet and leave it there,” she says. “I use everything I bring back.”

Recently, when she hosted a dinner party for 16 people, Rideau realized she didn’t have matching place settings for 16, but that’s when the fun began. “I have two to three setups between eight and 12 pieces so I interchanged things and did four dinner plates of one and four dinner plates of another,” she says. “The table became joyous even though one person’s plate didn’t look like the other. It’s all in how you put everything together.”

You’ll rarely find a huge centerpiece on Rideau’s holiday table. Instead, she prefers placing something natural to the outdoors on her table, whether that’s cuttings of lavender or rosemary atop linen napkins or simply using pomegranates as décor. “Once you add place settings, wine glasses and water glasses the table can feel full,” she says. “That’s why I tend to intermix small vases with sprigs of herbs or flowers instead. I keep the floral very simple.”

5. Accessorize with fragrance-free candles.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to add instant ambience, simply light several votive candles. Thanks to the candlelight, the whole mood of your holiday gathering will change, Rideau says. “I specifically love colorful twisted candles,” she says. “I like the ambience that’s created when they melt down. You end up forgetting how long you’ve been sitting enjoying each other’s company!”

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