Table settings with style

Setting a holiday table can be stressful. Should you seat Uncle Fred next to your squirmy nephew Charlie? Do you need to remove decorations before serving the food? There are so many questions, so I thought I’d ask the professionals! Derek MacDonald is an award winning Event Producer at his company Boom Goes the Drum, and has designed his fair share of holiday tables over the years. With his sharp sense of style and his creative direction, Derek answers a few questions to help you make holiday magic with your décor!

  1.  How do you make an impactful centerpiece without taking up too much space for food and still be able to see your guests?

The trick to creating visual interest in a table setting is to always think about building a landscape for your table. Approach it like a landscape painter would, think about the composition and how it draws the eye around. If items are placed in heavy clusters or sparse groupings it will not feel like it flows. Also just like a painter don’t ignore the negative space, allow things to breathe and show off their shape rather than cluster. But most important unlike a painter your landscape needs to be functional so taking into account that you will be adding plates cutlery and sight lines for guests is your starting point. Map it out with all of the functional items first (I will even sit in different chairs to get an idea of how it all feels) and then start adding your layers of decor, florals etc.


2.  Should you have a theme for your table? If so, what are your tips for picking the perfect theme?

Instead of a theme think about going with a combo of complimentary textures and patterns. Sometimes a theme can take away from the subtle sophisticated appeal of a table. If you are going to do a theme try to make it slightly understated. I always think that the spirited conversation should be louder than you table decor.


3.  Should you have assigned seating or let everyone choose their seats?

Definitely do assigned seating if you want to up your host(ess) game. but just make sure that everything else is matching this level of detail. i.e. assigned seating can become troublesome if you rare serving in a casual buffet-eat-when-you-want style. To create a fun conversational element try splitting up couples, people will likely walk away from your holiday dinner knowing someone a little better.



4.  How can you keep your holiday table looking classy without spending too much money and buying all new décor?

Use what you have got and class it up with some beautiful fresh florals. Even if it is not your favourite, Bring out that casserole dish from the 60’s or antique serving tongs. Especially anything that has a memory. Holiday Dinning tables are all about celebrating the coming together of family and loved ones, and what better way to do that than to bring out your favourite aunties silver serving platter, she probably got it for her wedding and can tell everyone the story. Just make sure you give it a good polish so that it sparkles alongside with the conversation you will have about it.

For more about Boom goes the drum check out their website at

One Comment Add yours

  1. HappyFamily says:

    What fun ideas. Need to add these to my Christmas list.



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