House Beautiful’s Robert Rufino Talks Holiday Tablescaping

Holiday Tablescapping

Style director of House Beautiful, Robert Rufino, stopped by to answer some of your most burning questions regarding table setting for the holidays. His creative and innovative expertise will help you reimagine what a tablescape can look like and will give you the tools to make your holiday table look magazine worthy.

Where should you start?

When planning a tablescape, sometimes the hardest part is simply getting started. This is a time to experiment with visual interest, suggests Mr. Rufino. He recommends setting the scene with a runner, tablecloth or placemats as your foundation, then begin building outward with candlesticks of various sizes while mixing in festive decor.

To mix or match?

“Why not mix a floral with a tartan plaid, or a tartan plaid with a bird print?” Mr. Rufino says. Your table setting is an opportunity to add a bit of personal flare to your holiday decor. If you prefer uniformity, opt for a single-color palette and pattern. If multiple prints catch your eye, go bold and mix them together. The possibilities are endless.

Any centerpiece suggestions?

Thinking outside of the box when creating your centerpiece is encouraged – it’s about creating visual interest and having fun. One of Mr. Rufino’s favorite non-traditional centerpiece items is a plethora of red carnations. Taking an ordinary item and multiplying it establishes an elevated, eye-catching design your guests will be tempted to recreate.

What are the dos and don’ts of serving dinner?

Rather than setting food on the table, Mr. Rufino advises hosts to create some separation by establishing a designated serving station to ensure your tablescape stays intact. Additionally, increase the formality of the event by preparing your guests’ plates in the kitchen and serving them once all are seated at the table.

Any tips to take my event to the next level?

Attention to detail rarely goes unnoticed. If the meal being served is a little on the messy side, adding finger bowls for guests to quickly cleanse their hands can be a thoughtful touch. Mr. Rufino also recommends incorporating place cards into the tablesetting; they ensure smooth operation as they will eliminate the potential of guests playing musical chairs while deciding where to sit.

How can I make the end of the evening extra-memorable?

Looking for the cherry on top of a fabulous experience for your guests? Mr. Rufino is an advocate for leaving a small gift as a gesture of gratitude. Something edible, such as homemade marshmallows or make-your-own hot cocoa kits, are always a treat. Going the extra mile will leave your friends and family wowed and with a lasting memory to cherish.

I’ll be entertaining after the holidays; how can I transition my tablescape?

Hosting after the holidays are over? Consider that the perfect time to reimagine your centerpiece. Mr. Rufino encourages hosts to keep that cozy holiday feel by replacing poinsettias or other festive florals with metallics to avoid being overt while still honoring winter decor.

Pair your newfound tablescaping skills with Robert Rufino’s top tips for holiday hosting to make this season truly unforgettable.