Easy, affordable holiday decorating tips to dress up your table

Party Planning 101: Turn the Table

Holiday Decorating Tips

Dressing up your table for a holiday dinner party is kind of like brushing your hair in the morning. You may or may not get around to it. (Some days you're just really, really busy.)

Which is why we're bringing it up now…

See, we want your soiree to have major "wow" factor and that means not letting those key details fall by the wayside. So we turned to Stuart Kotake, Associate Director of Catering at Moana Surfrider (he handles all of the hotel's major VIP functions). Here, he shares easy and affordable ways to turn any table into a serious showstopper.

Start brushing up.

Don't spend a lot of money. Chic doesn't mean expensive. Kotake purchased almost everything for our holiday table demo from Ben Franklin Crafts, Macy's and Target.

Start with a strong color palette. Don't limit yourself to conventional (i.e. boring) reds and greens either. For an unexpected touch, treat your decor like an outfit and channel on-trend hues of the season, or draw inspiration from your favorite painting or animal. Today, Kotake opted for metallics with a pop of green.

Layer, layer, layer. Build interest by choosing ornaments and accents in different shapes and shades (of the same color). Consider glass, wood or stone for added texture. For our centerpiece, Kotake used a silver wreath as a base then filled a glass bowl with metallic pine cones and a variety of ornaments. Pears and pine needles added an earthy contrast while curled ribbons provided a festive finishing touch.

Holiday Decorating Tips

Keep your centerpiece clean and understated. As a rule of thumb, Kotake says nothing at the dining table should be over 14 inches tall so guests can see and converse with each other. Another reason to avoid a massive, overwhelming centerpiece? Just think: people will be staring at this all throughout dinner.

Save the drama for the buffet. This is where your large show pieces should go. Don't be afraid to think big: throw in a few Moroccan-inspired lanterns or three-foot vases filled with giant shells or bleached birch branches. Elevate your food as well by placing a few key platters on tumblers to attract attention.

Don't skimp on candlelight. Candles add much-needed sparkle and movement to the room. Sprinkle votives around the dining table and place larger candles on the buffet. Play with different holders, like lanterns or bowls filled with rice, sea glass or sand.

Now that your table's ready, what about the food? Stay tuned for easy recipes and quick plating tricks in part two of our holiday party planning series. (For an even easier, fuss-free experience, book your party at Moana Surfrider.)

Holiday Decorating Tips