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November 25, 2020

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John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others.

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the essential guide to creating an elegant home

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The holidays are coming and it’s time to whip out those table prep and decor skills! Fear not — the team at John McClain Design’s got you covered when it comes to putting together Pinterest-worthy holiday tabletops even if it’s just for you and the immediate family this year.

Remember “Let’s Decorate For a Gourmet”

Sometimes it can be overwhelming to remember the correct way to set a table when you’re simultaneously making sure dinner is almost ready. So we’ve come up with a mnemonic to save you some time on the big day: Let’s Decorate For a Gourmet.

  • Linens. L is for linens and can consist of placemats, napkins, tablecloths and table runners. Here’s where the fun comes in! You get to choose the color, pattern and texture to set the tone for your event. An exciting way to play around with linen decor is getting creative with napkin rings. Napkin rings made of sunflowers or acorns are the delicate elements that can really put your guests in the festive mood!
  • Dishware. Determine your dishware by the meal you’ve chosen to serve. Dinner plates are the main staple, but if you’re serving salad then go ahead and place salad plates on top of each dinner plate, followed by the bowl if soup is also on the menu. Bread plates can also be added to the upper left of dinner plates with the butter knife spread horizontally across the plate and the handle pointing to the right. Really want to go all out? Invest in some chargers. Chargers are placed underneath dinner plates as decorative pieces to further set the ambience. They can be made from all kinds of material, such as acrylic, wood, glass, plastic, porcelain and metal. Options galore!
  • Flatware. Ready? Set. Let’s begin with flatware basics! Forks are placed to the left of the dinner plate and the knife to the right with the blade facing toward the plate. The spoon is placed beside the knife and the salad fork beside the dinner fork. Dessert spoons are placed horizontally above dinner plates with the handle pointing to the right. Whew! We did it!
  • Glassware. Nothing screams elegant like exquisite glassware. Water glasses are situated in the top right corner, just above the knife. Whereas, long stem wine glasses are placed diagonally to the right of the water glasses. Speaking of beverages — don’t forget to keep your bar cart fully stocked. Cheers!

Thanksgiving Tabletop Aesthetics

While you can never go wrong with warm tones to create an inviting environment, a modernized look can be created by chartering into unfamiliar territory. Try offsetting traditional warm colors like orange, brown and yellow with a pop of pastel blue dinner plates or vibrant magenta glasses. 

When deciding what items to incorporate into your tablescape, think of unique ways to display fall foliage and cornucopias that will complement your color scheme. Dried wheat bouquets can make a chic alternative to traditional flower arrangements, and strategically placed apples and pears can give your table a quaint appeal when compared to the typical garland made of foliage. Just remember to have a blast with it!

Whatever happens, the time we spend with loved ones is what’s important this holiday season — especially with everything that’s gone on this year! Wishing you happiness and wellness at the start of this holiday season.

Till Next Time…
Happy Designs!

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John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others.

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the essential guide to creating an elegant home

Your free guide to my pro tips on achieving a no fail elegant design in your own home.

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2021

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