(Left) The champagne and vodka station with whimsical porcelain shot glasses. (Right) A color scheme of red and green is traditional but go for muted tones and mix textures: A floral kilim carpet over an olive silk organza table cloth gives an Old World vibe reminiscent of Renaissance paintings.
Photos by Ricky Toledo
‘Tis the season for abundance
ART DE VIVRE - Ricky Toledo, Chito Vijandre (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2018 - 12:00am

Less is not more at this time of the year — it just appears too austere and joyless. It’s the perfect time of year to go overboard, when nothing succeeds like excess.

This Christmas, even if you’re a minimalist, you may find yourself going against your usual tendencies of paring down. It’s the season of joy and generosity, after all, when maximalism reigns. In decorating terms, that translates to opulence, luxury and abundance. Less is not more at this time of the year — it just appears too austere and joyless. It’s the perfect time of year to go overboard, when nothing succeeds like excess. But excess doesn’t mean you can just go haphazardly when you execute your holiday table. It’s madness, yes, but there has to be a certain method for it to become a multi-sensory delight.

Choose An Appropriate Theme and Centerpiece

A Christmas table of abundance: Excess doesn’t mean you can just go haphazardly when you execute your holiday table. It’s madness, yes, but there has to be a certain method for it to become a multi-sensory delight.

There’s a reason why certain symbols are associated with Christmas and you should do well to consider these to make your affair more relevant. They don’t have to be that literal, of course. In as much as doves are the traditional symbols of peace and hope associated with the yuletide, other birds have their virtues as well like bluebirds for love and joy, and red cardinals for beauty and nobility. The reindeer is associated with Santa Claus, which always brings warm thoughts for adults and unspeakable delight for children. For our holiday buffet table, we chose bronze deer from our garden as centerpiece to set the theme. It’s also important that what you choose has personal relevance. In our case, it brings happy thoughts of a trip to Nara while being associated with grace, compassion, gentleness and natural beauty. In China it is a symbol for happiness and good fortune as well as a homonym for the word “abundance,” which makes it even more ideal for the season.

Decide On A Color Scheme

Red and green are the traditional yuletide colors because they are the bright colors that remain in nature during the winter, like holly with red berries and poinsettia with their red leaves but your color scheme need not be so primary. Go for more secondary shades like burgundy and olive, which are more pleasing to the eye and are easier to mix and match with linens and other accouterments that you already have. You can also add jewel tones like purple, emerald and ruby.

 An enameled leaf with crystal-studded lizard jewel box adds a precious touch to the “ground cover” of fruits, nuts, flowers and moss.

Layer The Table Cloth

You can layer two different sets for a richer look, like a plain or printed one for the first layer and an embroidered one for the top. You can also mix textures. For our spread, we used an olive silk organza tablecloth base then layered it with a floral kilim carpet. Oriental carpets were used for the table in the 15th century if you notice in European Renaissance paintings. This gives the table an Old World feel, which will go well with your heirloom silver and china. If you’re using more understated linen, you can gather the corners and add tassels for a more festive look.

Make The Center Setting Asymmetric

The centerpiece does not always have to be in the center. It can even be at one end for an asymmetric look. Instead of using two or four bronze deer, we used three and positioned two on one end and a single one on the other end. It resembles more what you see in nature than what you see in a museum or indoor installation which you want to avoid. To evoke a forest setting which is their habitat, we created ground cover from twigs, moss balls, flowers, berries, fruits and nuts.

The deer is a Christmas symbol of grace, compassion, gentleness and natural beauty, as well as happiness, good fortune and abundance.

Plan The Stations And Mix The Silver, China and Crystal

After determining what you want to serve, plan the positioning of individual stations and choose your silver, china, crystal and serving cutlery. Use silver trays to contain drinks and food but make sure you position them at different heights so that the table doesn’t look boring. Imagine them as different mounds or levels in the forest terrain which is never flat. Be adventurous by mixing and matching your pieces.

They don’t always have to be from one set or era. Instead of all crystal from one period, for example, you can add modern porcelain shot glasses with whimsical patterns. For the coffee and tea service, even if our silver Samovars were Victorian, we paired them with blue Japanese porcelain cups and saucers with dragon patterns for an Orientalist twist.

Deer frolic on the table setting evoking the forest terrain with silver tray “stations” at different levels.

Add Little Touches That Bring Surprise

You can make the setting even more special by adding precious objects like crystal-studded jewel boxes which can come in the form of flora and fauna. If you have the skill and time, you can even make them as party favours for your guests. They can be very personal mementoes that they accidentally discover while partaking of the spread. Even little jeweled frames with photos of your guests at past events can be welcome tokens which will make them remember the occasion for years to come.

The caviar station with shot glasses and champagne flutes.

* * *

Victorian silver pieces, embroidered linens and kilim carpet are available at AC+632 in Greenbelt 5, call 758-2564. Follow the authors on Instagram @ rickytchitov; Twitter @RickyToledo23; and Facebook at  Ricky Toledo Chito Vijandre

 

(Left) A compote overflowing with grapes above the Japanese porcelain cups and saucers with dragon motif. (Right) Japanese porcelain tea service gives an Orientalist twist to the Victorian silver samovar tea and coffee station.

CHRISTMAS
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