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Color-inspired holiday tablescapes

Gail McCauley is a home interiors freelance writer who writes ongoing paint decor content for the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute, as well as nationally syndicated shelter magazines. Ms McCauley is also a media member of the Intern...

Colorful table settings

Creating a festive holiday tablescape can be easily accomplished with some advance planning, one or more unique ideas, and the creative use of color and paint!

Handpainted holiday placemats

Choose a theme

A wonderful way to begin the process of allowing your creative juices to flow is to consider selecting a designated theme for your holiday party. Once your theme has been chosen, designing your holiday tablescape will begin falling into place.

Color me festive

Designing your holiday tables around your existing color scheme is one option for the your table's theme.

For instance, if your existing dining room color scheme consists of deep Victorian reds, cranberry, burgundy or wine, you are in luck! Many of this fall and winter season's hottest hues spotlight these deep, rich tones. You might consider a poinsettia, winter berry or holly berry theme for the tablescape. Ruby or fire engine reds that portray bold, jewel tones set the stage for a dramatic tables, where a monochromatic color scheme can form the basis for the entire table's theme.

If your existing color scheme does not reflect the holidays at all, take heart! Even the most unexpected color combinations can be transformed into exciting holiday tablescapes. Simply team your existing color scheme with winter white, shimmering silver or glistening gold accents to implement holiday magic on the holiday table!

Even unlikely colors -- such as mustard yellow -- can be paired with white to produce a star theme, silver to achieve a snowflake theme, or silvery whites to produce icicle effects that can dress up an existing tablescape color palette for the holidays. Add sparkling white lights throughout the dining space, and you have transformed the dining area into a holiday winter wonderland.

Start the layering

Once the theme and color scheme have been selected, it is time to design the holiday table. Beginning with the tablecloth (the first "layer" of your table decor), consider sponge painting or stenciling the desired theme onto a solid colored tablecloth that reflects the holiday color scheme. Painting the simplest of border designs is sometimes the only necessary requirement for transforming the most ordinary tablecloth!

Painted borders may also be applied to enhance an existing fabric runner, which can add further interest and function as the second "layer" on the holiday table.

>> More ideas: Festive holiday tablesettings

Placemat protocols

Holiday placemats represent a fantastic opportunity to draw the attention away from ordinary dinner plates. Consider designing disposable placemats that can be constructed from everyday grocery store brown paper bags, heavy duty brown shipping paper sold in rolls or inexpensive foam board purchased at the local craft store.

Explore the possibility of tracing holiday cookie cutter shapes onto the placemat surface, then enhancing the image with a tantalizing painted color! Add texture to a one dimensional surface by gluing leftover scraps of fabric to the placemat and mixing with designs that have been stenciled or painted freehand.

Holiday gift wrap that represents your desired them can be inexpensively purchased and glued to the paper's surface. Enhance the gift wrap with painted borders to form whimsical, customized placemats.

Napkin niceties

Napkins and napkin rings represent the "icing on the cake" for the holiday table. Disposable paper napkins can be easily and inexpensively beautified with painted holiday motifs that reflects your desired theme.

For a more formal holiday tablescape that can be utilized for many years to come, consider painting a border design on a solid colored fabric napkin. Napkin rings can be fashioned from the many natural sources that are often free for the taking in your own backyard! Greenery and pinecones can be easily spray painted to reflect a wide array of holiday color palettes.

Take a seat

Don't forget the dining chairs! For that final personalized touch, dining chair padded cushions or slipcovers can be customized with paint to create the ultimate holiday tablescape.

Besides offering another way to carry the desired theme from the dining table surface to the chairs, painted cushions and slipcovers offer another way to display the holiday color palette and provide visual balance within the dining area.

Use what you already have

This year, remember that it is possible to avoid breaking the budget on pre-made, store-bought holiday tableware. Allow color and paint to create cost saving, unique ways to enhance the focal point of your dining area -- the holiday table.

Have fun creating a memorable holiday tablescape for your family and friends!

More dining table ideas

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Thanksgiving table: Get set for thanks

Festive holiday tablesettings

Dining room table decorating trends for summer

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