Let individual holiday style shine
The holiday table doesn’t need to be formal. It doesn’t even need a complete set of matching plates. It just needs to express an individual’s style and creativity to be memorable.
That was the message from designer and author Kathryn Greeley of Waynesville at a two-day “camp” on holiday entertaining in late November at The Swag Country Inn in Waynesville. The camp was a pilot project for three more entertaining “camps” to be held at The Swag in 2014.
Attendees at the camp enjoyed the mountain-ambience and hospitality of The Swag, a rustic mountaintop inn, bordering on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Greeley said her philosophy in design is to “combine the precious with the not-so-precious,” meaning that an individual should use what has meaning to them from their life, with affordable design elements.
Attendee Susie Noble, of Charlotte, said that Greeley designed her lake home.
“I know what I like, but I couldn’t do it on my own,” Noble said. “Kathryn is so wonderful in what she does.”
At the seminar, Greeley brought to life examples of creating a personal style to entertaining.
“Nobody can entertain like you can,” Greeley said. “Your holiday table should look collected, not decorated. Style is a way to say who you are without having to say a word. What are you passionate about?”
Greeley uses her personal collections to set her tables, and confessed that she loves collecting blue and white pieces. But she also collects new items, vintage tableware and weaves in old things she has treasured. She is careful to point out that people should not collect what they don’t use.
On a trip to Scotland, she collected wild game-themed china to add to her collection, which she can use for themed-events or her annual “Thanksgiving Feed” at her home.
“Use your life to plan an event,” she said. “Your travel is a big influence in your style.”
Greeley’s describes her own home as “elegant English countryside-style.” She feels “Downton Abbey” has done a lot “to get china and silver back out and used.”
But she urged attendees to find their own style — whether it is transitional (combining old and new), rustic or traditional.
“If you want to entertain creatively, but are not willing to take the risk to experiment, you won’t step it up,” said Greeley.
Greeley invited attendees to bring some of their china and dinnerware to use as examples in showing creative ways to set a holiday table. She covered use of different shapes to “layer” tableware for a striking visual impression, creative displays of menus and ways to make and use place cards and favors.
Greeley gave tips on finding colorful and seasonal accent pieces in the WNC area to create a unique tablescape.
“You want to have it match, but let go of the compulsion to make it match exactly,” Greeley said. “For example, if you inherited a full set of china, and you’re not exactly crazy about it, mix it with colorful tableware like Fiestaware, to create a colorful tablescape. The brand doesn’t matter if it speaks to you.”
A highlight was her demonstration of floral arrangements that even the novice can conquer — complete with tips on flowers, including what people can find in their yards, such as acorns to fill the base of a vase or colorful red ilex berry sprigs.
“Just go out to your yard — you’d be amazed at what you find to use in floral arrangements,” Greeley said.
The “campers” were treated to a cooking demonstration on holiday entertaining recipes and creative and easy event and menu ideas.
The seminar challenged attendees to think of events important in their own lives, and then entertain with those themes.
“It’s like creating memories,” said Rowena Smith, a home décor shop owner from Morristown, Tennessee.
To get more of Greeley’s tips, The Swag plans to continue the “camps” in three sessions in 2014. Visit www.theswag.com in early 2014 for further information.
Greeley’s book, “The Collected Tabletop,” contains chapters on several holiday tablescape themes with high-quality photos. It is available at Barnes & Noble and The Gardener’s Cottage in Asheville, Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville, on Amazon.com and by visiting www.kathryngreeleydesigns.com. Call her Waynesville office at 452-2093.
“Creative entertaining is your gift to your family and friends,” Greeley said. “It’s your style — just try.”