Style at Home: Rad plaid holiday tables

Mary Carol Garrity
Tribune News Service

When guests come to my home for dinner during the holiday season, there are two things they are guaranteed to find: a meal made by someone — anyone — besides me and a table dressed in plaid. This time of year, I am firmly committed to never, ever cooking. And, to filling my life with as much plaid as I can get away with.

This wonderful table is rich and regal, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. (Mary Carol Garrity)


Plaid just calls out to be invited to a beautifully set holiday table. Here’s why. It’s a fabric steeped in tradition, yet also reinterpreted time and again so it doesn’t feel stale and stodgy. It gives you a million different colors to work with, so you can pull out the hues you like best. It can be formal or fun. And, it just looks like Christmas.

Interested in adding a little rad plaid to your holiday table? Here are some ideas to get you started.

First stop is a winter wonderland table created by Nell Hill’s tabletop designer Cheri. She started with a plaid throw blanket and plaid napkins. St. Nick presides at the table’s center, surrounded by a forest of snow-covered trees. To try this look on your table, find a plaid table topper that looks amazing with your dishes. We often use plaid blankets or squares of plaid fabric turned on the diagonal in place of tablecloths.

Mixing different dishes together is a foundation of our look. We just like how interesting tables are to look at when they sport a combination of colors and patterns. In addition to combining these delightful red and white dishes with everyday white dishes, Cheri tucked in some of our popular ticking chargers and trays. Sometimes, the only thing you need to do to change out the look of your table is to add new chargers or seasonal napkins.

I’ve become obsessed with poppers ever since my nephew brought them to our family’s Christmas Eve dinner. He hails from merry old England and wanted to share this fun tradition with us. We had a blast opening our poppers, donning the funny hats and sharing the jokes. If you don’t have poppers in your life, you need to get some. They add another fun element to your gatherings.

Sometimes, the only thing you need to do to change out the look of your table is to add new chargers or seasonal napkins. (Mary Carol Garrity)

I’ve always had a weakness for holiday tables that have a rustic feel. They have all the elements I love, like buffalo check tablecloths or napkins. Candlesticks made of tree branches or faux horns. Forest or wildlife accents.

Majolica-inspired cabbage plates are a mainstay on our tabletops, all year long. Like classic white dishes, they are chameleons that take on the feel of anything they are paired with. Here, we mixed them with a few different deep red and green plaid patterns. In a snap, they feel like winter.


This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at