In a year like no other, gathering around the holiday table is more important than ever … in fact, we’d argue that it’s a downright necessity.Yes, we know — the pandemic has straight up cancelled holiday hugs and majorly downsized holiday guest lists, but for us, the spirit of the season still rings true (even if you’re celebrating solo)! We’d like to think that a smaller table is just an excuse to set the ambiance with a festive tablescape perfectly outfitted for a new generation of hosts — one that showcases a mix of contemporary style and nostalgic panache — a perfect pairing for making new memories around the dinner table. To set this year’s table, we teamed up with our friends at Rigby — a modern line of dishware, glassware, and flatware that upgrades everyday dining while touting an affordable price tag (that means you can use this tableware way after the holidays … because who has time for single-use products?!?!) Prepared to tackle an unconventional holiday season, our strategy was simple — blend our vintage and thrifted inventory with fresh selects from Rigby to create a no-fuss, holiday setting. Here are our six tips for making table-top magic:

1. Set Your Foundation.

Start laying out your tablescape by setting the tone. For example, are you looking to go casual or ornate? Do you want your color scheme to be bold or muted? Making these choices will help you feel confident in your design from the get-go. For this particular tablescape, we knew we wanted to buck tradition — nothing too conventional for an unconventional holiday season.

Styling our dinner table with black flatware has been a yearlong desire for the Abby&Edna team, so we called on Rigby’s Satin Black Flatware Set to begin building our holiday theme. Don’t be afraid to anchor your design to a piece of inspirational tableware. Photo credit: Keirra Butts

2. Pair Something Borrowed With Something New

Achieve a unique look by heading to your local vintage store to find glassware and plates that tell a unique story. You can even get a head start with dinnerware you already have in your cabinets, then pair it with modern picks for a whimsical layout that won't break the bank.⁣ We injected sleek selects like Rigby’s Short Drinking Glass Set + Charcoal Navy Serving Bowl.

3. Build It Up.

Photo credit: Keirra Butts

Add some height to your tablescape to create dimension. A few tricks we like to implement:

  • Stack up your plates to add depth. We are fans of layering our dinner, salad, and dessert plates for increased height. For this year’s holiday-scape, we used Rigby’s Navy Dinner Plate to lay the groundwork, then built it up with vintage salad and dessert plates sourced from our local thrift store.

  • Go in with candles — candle sticks, tea lights, votives, and candle chimneys — oh my! We LOVE candles here at A&E. They provide that foolproof sexiness every table needs. We found chic, yet inexpensive candle holders and candle sticks at none other than our local Dollar Tree. | A&E Tip: The dollar store is our go-to place for inexpensive trinkets and knick knacks for any table upgrade. It’s a decorators’ playground if you know where to look!

  • Mini bowls for the win. Rigby’s mint rendition added the perfect pop of color and height to the table, while serving as a handy vessel for snacks and sauces.

4. Get Floral Fresh.

Fresh flowers or greenery effortlessly adds a pop of color and a hint of freshness to any table. We decided to go with a less intrusive style of florals for this setting, skipping the bud vases and large arrangements we traditionally opt for. The garland style arrangement utilized fresh berries, and roses, while showcasing different types of greenery — making for subtle, yet elegant holiday flair. We recommend getting creative and making your own arrangements if possible! But, if you’re like us and don't have a green thumb, make an effort to shop local, and support a small floral business! We opted for designs by @reflorishnyc for the above dinner party.

5. Cue the Cloth.

Don’t be afraid to break out the cloth for an easy table upgrade. (... And don’t panic, those after-dinner stains can be blotted right out!) Use this as an opportunity to mix and match textures — go bold with a velvet tablecloth or stick with a sleek silk runner to let the overall tablescape shine. We chose to go with a classic evergreen silk runner, then paired it with Rigby’s Navy Stripe Cotton Napkin Set. A&E Tip: Head to your local fabric store for an accessible cloth solution. Don’t tell anyone, but for this year’s runner, we utilized a simple textile.

6. Add Some Personality.

Photo credit: Keirra Butts

Tell your own unique story through your tablescape. Sprinkle in trinkets, photos, handwritten notes … whatever you want! Just remember — tables aren’t precious. They’re meant to weather everything from spills to candle wax drippings and everything in between. So have fun with it!

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