The French Holiday Table

by olivia hoffman

Some of life’s most lasting memories are made around the dining table. With the holidays quickly approaching, it is easy to get swept up in planning the dinner menu, but what is equally important is the presentation.

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Utensils, place settings, candles, serving dishes, the list goes on and on. Given all the possibilities, the task can seem a little daunting. But with a bit of creativity and attention to detail, you can create a stunning tablescape that your guests won’t soon forget.

To help you get inspired, we spoke to our favorite French designers to pull out some of the best holiday table presentations. The themes achieved are classically French and utterly timeless. If you see something you like but think you are missing the finishing touch, click the links in the text for our product recommendations.

Neutral Colors with Gold Accents

A gilded Christmas is nothing short of magic. After starting with a neutral color palette consisting of beiges, whites and forest greens,  a pop of gold elevates the table to a more elegant standard. Gold napkins sit nicely atop a white table runner and highlight larger gold centerpieces like a water jug or an antique candelabra.

Château de Moissac-Bellevue © Anne Soulier featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 19

Alternate Candle Variations

Candles are a dining room’s best friend. You’ll notice that every one of these tablescapes features lots of candles. Flickering lights add a certain sparkle to the table that brings the whole setting to life.

Whether you opt for long candles of varying heights or a shorter set of scented candles, a little flame adds a warm, cozy accent. It’s also not a bad idea to mix them around the room! Small antique votives help to fill and illuminate the space left in between. Pair the candles on the table with some string lights for an extra marvelous touch.

© Cécile Perrinet-Lhermitte featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 21

Mix Antique Glasses & Utensils

Contrary to popular belief, your glasses do not have to match! In fact, it’s more interesting when they don’t. Mixing and matching your glassware adds texture to the table while inspiring guests to broaden their drink horizons. Little aperitif glasses don’t necessarily need to be used for drinks, they also make for charming little vases for individual flowers.

Utensils are a big point of remark, as that is what the guests will  interact with throughout the meal. For a special occasion, it is fun to bring out antique cutlery, paired perhaps with ceramic accessories.

Château de Moissac-Bellevue © Anne Soulier featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 19

Consider Table Linens

Runners and placemats act as the base canvas for your dinner masterpiece. As they set the tone of the table, it is important to decide whether the linen will be colorful with a design or neutral with texture.

By topping off the setting with matching napkins to accent the placemats, the presentation could pass as professional – especially if they’re fitted with napkin rings.  If the table is already busy, white monogrammed napkins add a unique and intimate element without drawing away from the rest of the decoration. Otherwise, quality disposable plaid napkins make for a festive accessory with easy cleanup.

© Joanna Maclennan featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 21
Château de Moissac-Bellevue © Anne Soulier featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 19

Layer Plates and Serving Dishes

A delicious dinner calls for divine plating. Deciding whether to use individual plates that mix and match or plate sets that pull the table together is an important first step. Whichever you choose as the base, layering a shaped plate over a circular plate elevates the presentation and helps guests organize their meal.

The serving dishes must not be overlooked as they will be the finishing touch on the final presentation. Something practical can also be fashionable, like a Digoin baking dish or anything from Le Creuset. Purely decorative serving ware makes for an eye-catching centerpiece, while a wicker tray makes passing the bread both elegant and easy.

© Eve Cardi featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 21
© Eve Cardi featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 21

Add a Touch of Greenery

If it feels like something is missing, a little greenery is probably what the setting needs. Weaving in a few sprigs and branches of seasonal plants instantly makes the room feel more inviting.

Placing the greenery directly on the table gives it volume, while thoughtful arrangements in mini antique bottles make each guest feel like they have their own centerpiece. The key is to keep it natural.

© Cécile Perrinet-Lhermitte featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 21
© Joanna Maclennan featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 21

Warm Drink Settings to Finish

The party isn’t over when dinner is done. Coffee and tea to finish are just as important as the meal itself. As the soirée winds down, this is the last moment the guests will remember, so this final presentation is the “grand finale,” if you will.

The classic option is to set out a ceramic teapot accompanied by adorable milk jugs and a matching sugar pot. For a fancier route, do not shy away from using antique silver cream jugs on a silver serving tray to give that luxury hotel-feel.

© Julien Fernandez featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 22
© Julien Fernandez featured in MFCH Nov/Dec 22

Check out our Boutique!

If you are looking for something to complete your perfect holiday table setting, the MFCH Boutique has a large selection of quality French products and antiques to make your dinner more memorable. We also love these brands for a quintessential French table aesthetic:

Bring the art of French living into your home this holiday season: Get the look!

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