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One of my favorite holiday traditions is the annual dinner party that Adam and I host for a few friends the weekend before Christmas. It’s become a tradition we all look forward to, and I cook up a feast—usually some version of my sweet and spicy glazed short ribs, pesto parmesan potatoes, and my holiday jewels kale salad. We drink champagne by the fire, and soak up one more great night of conversation before the year comes to a close.
It always reminds me how much I love hosting intimate dinner parties at home. Cozy nights with our closest friends around the table is my happy place, and sharing food and great conversation during this season forges deep connections.
It’s no secret that I always love the chance to set a simple Christmas dinner table with place cards, greenery, and candlelight, so I thought it would be fun to share with you guys exactly how I’m setting the table this year. Handmade ceramic dishes and recycled glassware from Casa Zuma are most definitely making an appearance, as is a stunning evergreen garland that takes center stage.
First, watch the video below to see how I decked the halls this year—then scroll on for my tips on keeping it simple but special—so you can enjoy the party as much as your guests.
The Scandi inspiration
As I shared in our Holiday Decor tour earlier this week, I’ve got evergreen branches, twinkling fairy lights, birch bark candles, kraft paper gifts, and bowls of pine cones on my mind. It all came together for a Scandinavian woodland vibe, especially against a minimalist backdrop of neutrals. Lush textiles and twinkling candlelight made the table feel like it was its own little cozy world, and my goal was to capture that warm sense of hygge throughout the space.
The perfect linen tablecloth
Throughout most of the year, I embrace the natural look of our unfinished teak dining table. But for a dinner party, I always dress it up with our casual linen table throw that doesn’t fully cover the table—I love to let the beauty of the natural wood show a bit. Don’t stress about getting every last wrinkle out—the beauty of linen is that it’s casually rumpled. This simple white palette adds to the Scandinavian feel, especially when topped with our natural evergreen runner that’s low enough to not get in the way of dinnertime conversation.
A lush, evergreen runner
My friend Elle Worsham owns Gracious Garlands, and her team creates the most beautiful evergreen garlands to hang on the mantel or lay simply down the center of the table. This one is super lush and textured, acting as a sort of “runner,” that doesn’t block conversation the way that a taller floral centerpiece would. Plus, it lasts for weeks, which means that I get to enjoy it throughout the entire holiday season (not just on party night!)
It also coordinates so beautifully with our Casa Zuma Holiday Wreaths hung above the mantel and on the window near the table. Handcrafted from a California-inspired mix of Fraser Fir, Leyland Cypress, Gold Tipped Cedar, and Seeded Eucalyptus, it brings so much warmth and natural beauty to the space.
Cast a warm glow
Once I’d laid the foundation with my white linen tablecloth and evergreen runner, I was ready to pop in the twinkling candlelight that makes every dinner party setup feel special. Out of all my holiday table setting tips, candlelight is the quickest, most affordable way to give any gathering a magical glow.
When adding tall, sculptural elements like candlesticks to the table, I like to keep things a bit asymmetrical—and for added twinkle, feel free to tuck a few votives in among the greenery.
Raise a glass
I set this Christmas table with our Playa Dinnerware from Casa Zuma. I love that these feel elevated for a dinner party, but they’re also rustic and durable enough to use every night for our casual weeknight dinners. I paired them with our new Recycled Glass Goblets, which add a beautifully wabi-sabi touch that elevates whatever you’re drinking. Made by artisans in Guatemala of locally-sourced recycled glass, these glasses are incredibly durable, and lend a relaxed, organic vibe to the table. Sized just right for water, wine, or cocktails, I use them for literally every dinner party I host.
A place for everyone
Taking a few minutes to handwrite simple place cards is one of those simple touches that really elevates a table and makes it feel special occasion-worthy. I used simple rectangles of recycled paper, handwrote each guest’s name, and then tucked in a sprig of cedar and a dried orange slice. Don’t worry about perfect penmanship—the imperfect nature of these cards is what makes them feel personal and special.