Christmas is my favourite time of year. It brings freshly fallen snow, boxwood and magnolia, and garland for the front door. And inside, the smell of gingerbread, baking to share with friends, classic movies, beautiful music, and the perfect tree. Along with the excitement come thoughts of entertaining, and for most it can be overwhelming and intimidating – myself included.

But it doesn’t have to be. Remember, entertaining is about getting together with people you love, and true friends don’t care so much about the details. They care that you invited them. And don’t worry if it doesn’t all go according to plan, just go with it.

One year I hosted a neighbourhood brunch and had everyone bring a dish. The day of the party I realized my table and service could only accommodate four; I didn’t have enough space for the food or the dishes to serve it on. I had an idea. I ran out to a local thrift shop and bought gorgeous platters, china, wine glasses, silverware and a white tablecloth. 

As for the table itself, I just worked with what I had, mixing old with new and pulling little tables out of storage–cleaning them up and fitting them together. Something simple and inexpensive turned out to be classic and special.

Add a simple spring of berries, fresh greenery or herbs, for a perfect festive touch on a white napkin.

Add a simple spring of berries, fresh greenery or herbs, for a perfect festive touch on a white napkin.

Mismatch dinnerware for a vintage feel.

Mismatch dinnerware for a vintage feel.

Buy beautiful platters and dinnerware at a local vintage shop, and pull small tables as end pieces to extend your table.

Buy beautiful platters and dinnerware at a local vintage shop, and pull small tables as end pieces to extend your table.

A simple flower in a glass is the perfect centrepiece. Or several make a beautiful runner.

A simple flower in a glass is the perfect centrepiece. Or several make a beautiful runner.