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Tablescapes are arrangements of items gathered in a grouping on top of a table. They're sometimes called tabletop arrangements. Typically, you can use anything as a prop for a great mini-arrangement — for example:
  • Accent pillows, throw blankets

  • Baskets, books, candles

  • Fabrics and other linens, ribbons

  • Flowers and foliage

  • Fresh fruit or quality faux fruit

  • Mirrors, photo frames

  • Trays, vases, or bowls

A tablescape can include a centerpiece, or it can simply contain an arrangement of your favorite items. Tablescapes refer to the way things are laid out, like in a landscape painting. And they're not just for dinner anymore. They're wonderful to arrange on coffee tables, end tables, or any other occasional piece that lends itself to holiday decorating — even mantels or shelves.

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Normally, you might have a simple tablescape already arranged on an occasional table. You may have arranged a tall candle set aside a small floral arrangement and a stack of thick coffee-table books. To adapt your everyday décor for the holidays, you can
  • Add a small holiday-themed collection on top of the stacked books.

  • Replace the stack of books with a stack of holiday-specific ones. Be sure that you don't place anything on top of them, so guests are encouraged to leaf through them leisurely.

  • Replace your normal floral arrangement with a seasonal one.

  • Change out the color of your candles.

  • Add a holiday-themed item at the base of your candles, such as an ornament, some greenery, or another token representing the holiday.

  • Remove your regular tablescape items and replace them entirely with snow villages or other holiday collections you may have.

Don't forget to take the opportunity at the holidays to dress up other tabletops that you don't normally spruce up. Simple holiday items grouped together are an easy way to add holiday sparkle to any surface.

If you want to make your own tablescape, here's a quick formula: Simply gather and arrange the following items, or a combination of them, on no more than one-third of your table surface space to make an instant tablescape:
  • Light source (lamp or candles — sometimes both)

  • Hard line accent (photo frame, book, a collectible item)

  • Botanical element (flower, bowl of fruit, plant or other item)

  • Fabric item (a table topper, runner, ribbon, a tapestry remnant, a napkin)

  • For the holidays: Add only one holiday item to a premade tablescape

Making your own tablescapes is easy if you keep these few pointers in mind:
  • Gather interesting items of different textures together. Good items to have are books, decorative plates displayed on stands, bowls filled with fruit or other decorative items, vases, flowers, candles, decorative orbs, and other home décor accessories.

  • Arrange items in staggering heights. Stack a few books and use them underneath items to raise them if needed. If you have a lamp on a table, use that as your tallest height, and work with other smaller items to fill in your tablescape.

  • Take up no more than one-third of your table with a tablescape unless you don't intend to use the table for anything else but display. You want your tablescape to stay intact, so leave room for people to set down drinks or the TV remote without bumping into your lovely arrangement.

  • Use your surfaces wisely. If you set up a gorgeous tablescape on your coffee table but no one has a place to put their dishes, cups, or other items for which that coffee table was intended, you've defeated the purpose of decorating. Decorating is meant to enhance — not to hassle.

If you want to place a tablescape on a surface you may need to use unexpectedly, such as an ottoman, try arranging it on a decorative tray so that you can move or shift the display without having to take it down or rearrange it.

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