notes on design....

How To Set a Modern Holiday Table

The holidays are upon us! Month after month of the best and craziest entertaining.
So let's make it modern. Let's make it shiny. Let's make it beautiful and earthy and extremely user friendly.

As we write this, we are mentally ticking off things we still need to do for our annual Halloween open house tonight (change porch light to a spooky bulb, wash that midcentury dip and chip tray we scored at the flea market, shine up the new cheese knives and fire up the spicy candles). And know that there is already a list of who is bringing what that has been started for Thanksgiving. Then we take a quick breath after that before the wintery celebrations bustle in.

But no matter which holiday we are focused mainly on the food, right? The eating and drinking are the focal points of the parties, and making sure our table looks lovely and the ice bucket stays full is our primary concern.

Burke Decor has such a wide range of aesthetics in its holiday collection for 2017, there's something to appeal to a vast assortment of personal styles. These table settings, serving pieces and barware sets take us from the elegant and formal to the millennial casual, from playful and hip to glamorous and vintage.
Let's start with a drink
The Gstaad 4 Piece Handle Bar Set by Twos Company is a terrific and fashionable workhorse with a stand to hold your Bottle Opener, Scoop, Cork Screw, Jigger. Made out of Horn and Nickel Plated Brass, its timelessness will warm things up during cocktail hour.
The Polished Brass Cocktail Shakers by Roost are a high style addition to your bar or credenza, and also make a great host/hostess gift.

Paired here with the Abstract Geometry Glassware in which an arresting, abstract geometric pattern is cut by hand into the clear glass and punctuated with triangles painted with 24k gold.

You could also use these shakers to great effect with the Alexandria Glasses, made in the classic shape of tea glasses, and adapted to champagne and larger wine glass sizes. They are hand-painted in two patterns of black and turquoise or saffron and embellished with gold stripes; case pack includes six each of the two patterns.


The Roost is still to come! Below are three more bar must-haves by one of our favorite vendors.
Keep it classy 
Verglas Barware by Roost was inspired by hard, clear ice. Each piece is blown from a clear glass and hand carved into pattern a finish emulating the look of ice. Heavy bases anchor the stems. A slight luster finish on the carving reduces fingerprinting and adds allure.
Punch Bowls 4 Eva
The Morandi Frost Glass Punch Bowl is made of mouth-blown glass with pleasing modern angles is partially sand-blasted for a contrasting, fine-textured look. We love this modern punch bowl and coordinating glassware for a completely updated take on a party staple.
Bond, James Bond
The Curvo Cocktail Pitcher is the smoothest. Inspired by Italian serveware from the 1960s, the tall brass- plated stainless steel pitcher with rosewood handle is sized for mixing cocktails.  Salut!
Some bottles don't pop
For the times when you aren't opening the bubbly stuff, you need the most stylish bottle opener around.
The Antler Bottle Opener in metal is a great conversation piece for the bar or your holiday cocktail party. 
Perfect for a stylish cocktail party, it features a natural horn handle with a steel opener and is the ideal addition to any bar.

One more from Roost because they are so so good. 
Brass bottle openers have your choice of rosewood or teak handles carved and polished in angular shapes.

We are adoring these cocktail napkins with Signal Flag designs by Thomas Paul. Great, bold colors, but still modern and a great pairing with metallic or white finishes on your barware. Made of 100% cotton.

And these solid linen cocktail napkins by Sir/Madam are available in either the Vintage or Classic hues, depending on what the rest of your color palette lends itself to.
Back to the drink pouring though...
This Etched Glass Decanter by BD Edition is so glamorous and Hollywood, we need our smelling salts just looking at it.

And keep things appropriately frosty with Sagaform's Ice Shot Glass Mold or Teroforma's Whiskey Rocks made of soapstone. These are undeniably delightful hostess gifts.
These curved mouth-blown glasses have a stunning ombre of platinum and gold that fades as it climbs the side of each glass.
Pair with a chic carafe and your guests won't want to leave the bar table.

We love these creative Animal Head Shooters from Twos Company. They look equally fierce on display, just waiting to be used as they do full of your party beverage of choice.
Includes 3 Designs: Wolf, Wild Boar and Elk. In glass and aluminum.
The Whiskey Lover Black Whiskey Set by Teroform is a most perfect gift for the sipper in your life. 
 Made of natural Soapstone & mouthblown non-lead Crystal, it includes 2 non-lead crystal Avva Tumblers in Charcoal and 6 Whisky Stones polished beverage cubes.
These Holly Berry Glasses, sold as a set of 6 in either wine glass or champagne glass height, are the perfect modern holiday addition to your table, but are abstract enough that they could be used all year round.
The delicate botanical pattern is etched and then hand painted with platinum for added sparkle.
Eventually, though, we are going to need to eat something.
Designing from the bottom up is usually a fundamental piece of wisdom, but we are going to skip around a little and start off with our favorite modern holiday serving pieces, before we get to table linens.

These 1948 Canape Plates by Jonathan Adler are exquisite. Named for the temperature at which gold melts, the porcelain dinnerware is splattered with real gold. Chic and classique. Gilded and giftable in luxe packaging, our 1948° Canapé Plate Set is perfect for parties, desserts, or diminutive snacks.

Serving it up!

Gold & Silver Edged Marble Coasters and Serving Boards are an elegant setting for cheese, charcuterie, and a carefully curated snack selection.
Subtly mottled white marble serving boards + coasters with a hand-chiseled pattern on the edges, and leafed with gold or silver foil, are luxurious without being overly ornate.


Sea Urchin Chip N' Dip Plate & Bowl Design by Twos Company is elevating your chip and dip game to new modernist heights.
The white textured ceramic set works with almost anything you want to pair with it. Bring on the tapenade!
Blue Onyx Serving Slabs & Coasters from Roost are made of rare, natural blue onyx from Argentina that is cut into free-form serving slabs and coasters.  The top of each piece is lightly polished to a smooth satin sheen.  Shapes and patterns of inclusions in the pieces will vary. 
Textured Brass Trays, sold as a set of 2, add intrigue to any holiday table setting.
Gleaming brass trays in a large array of sizes make it easy to entertain with elegant aplomb. Hand-crafted from a heavy-gauge brass sheet, the trays feature an attractive hammered pattern, smooth sides, and a lustrous sheen.

Think about serving something all white and then adding a pop of color with some cranberry chutney, pickled radishes or globe grapes.
It was hard to pick a favorite design, but the Tempest Serving Platter by elise flashman is a transcendental platter that will have your guests transfixed and can mix it up with any other metallics you might have on your holiday table.

These heavy weight plates, bowls and platters are made from a revolutionary new food contact-grade thermoset plastic called ThermoSāf ® that is multi-oven capable (microwave, conventional and convection), FDA, NSF and EU approved for food contact. They may be safely washed in a home or commercial dishwasher and can be placed in 300 degree oven for up to 90 minutes directly from the freezer. These products contain no harmful chemicals - such as formaldehyde, BPAs or DEHPs and are 100% manufactured in the U.S.A.
Take a look at some of the other lovely patterns there are to choose from for plates and platters by elise flashman.
The forms of these earthenware pitchers were based on a trio from early twentieth century Belgian basin sets, found at a favorite market in Paris and re-sculpted by an artisan in Sri Lanka. 
Their simplified classicism, expressed in facets and grand curves, convey a modernist ethos, and their generous proportions give them presence while serving drinks, holding flowers, or standing proud on the mantel.
Constructed of hollowed white marble blocks and finished with either a copper or brass base + accessory details, the Mara Creamer + Salt / Sugar Dish are beautiful additions to any dining or kitchen surface. 
The Salt / Sugar Dish includes a brass or copper spoon (to match the base) for easy service, and is hollowed to a semi-spherical shape for easy pinching.
Where's that pink Himalayan sea salt? In the prettiest container around.
Stork-inspired salt & pepper cellar, the perfect conversation piece for entertaining.  In silver plated metal and glass.
Dessert will never be the same
These hybrid serving pieces by Seletti are irresistible. This playful and sophisticated dinnerware project designed by CtrlZak multidisciplinary collective reflects on the historical production of Chinese and European Bone China and its fertilization between Western and Eastern aesthetics. Produced in Tangshan, and refined by hand, the pieces decorations are sliced in half, creating new hybrids that juxtapose scenes and themes interpreted in the respective cultural imagination.

Below, the Carnaby Zebra Stacking Dishes and Harlequin Tray, both from Jonathan Adler, bring a pop glamor to your dessert spread.
Napkins need a little bling, too
These great napkin rings and holders will dress up some solid napkins that can be used all year round and make your holiday table bright.
Love Letter Napkins by Sir/Madam are great conversation pieces and oh so romantic.
With text culled from the archives of some of the world’s literary greats, and hand-screened onto sheets of the sheerest cotton voile, these Letter Napkins arrive folded and enclosed in a classic string tie envelope for a truly special delivery. Individual themes include love letters, Shakespearean sonnets, and letters of advice — each edition
includes four unique works. Order by theme, or consider blending all three to encourage considerate discourse at the dinner table.
When we discovered this fine Lithuanian linen, we simply couldn't resist.  Hand-woven and stone-washed for softness and depth of color. When we discovered this fine Lithuanian linen, we simply couldn’t resist. Now available in five new colors, these Lithuanian Fringe Napkins are hand-woven and stone-washed for a softness with a beautiful depth of color.
 Simple Linen napkins measuring 20 x 20" make a luxurious, yet casual, table setting. Made of quality Belgian linen, later finished, woven, and stonewashed in Portugal, these napkins are any easy classic. Now available in twelve colors, the collection works great mixed + matched. Set the table with some texture.
You can't get more modern than this. Susan Kare is a pioneer of early computer graphic interface design. She designed this set of textiles for the Jacquard loom, an early example of computer-controlled machinery invented by Joseph Jacquard in 1801. This line of fine textiles celebrates the parallels between weaving and pixels; both rely on the idea of a grid spread across the surface of a medium.
No one will be running away from your table with these textiles
These table runners will keep everyone mesmerized and pull together the whole landscape of your holiday table. Keep these in subtle patterns, metallics or neutrals so they don't compete with other pieces and linens, but a little texture will make for a dynamic layer and add depth. Or go for a bolder print that will illuminate your place settings from below.
The Flame Table Runner by Thomas Paul is so warm and cozy.

Feast your eyes on this refined and lovely Lovebirds Runner by Huddleson Linens.
The white Italian linen tablecloth features lovebirds and a leafy border. There is also a charming set of eight linen napkins each with a different corner motif. 
The European Wine List Runner by Sir/Madam is extremely appealing for a modern and continental table and evokes a quiet and rustic charm that is still sophisticated in nature.
We haven't even gotten to dinner yet!
Check back for How To Set a Modern Holiday Table, Part Deux, when we get into flatware, plates, some more serving pieces, and a few things to keep the little ones occupied while the adults enjoy a civilized meal. Not to mention the great holiday decorations that will keep your whole house twinkling.

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