By Sybille C. Denninger

 The Countdown to Christmas is on!!!!

So today I want to give my awesome blog readers a few easy ideas for a festive dinner table. I usually like to fold napkins into elaborate creations (one useful thing I learned in hotel school) but that would be very hard to explain in writing. However, if anyone wants to come to my house for a quick, bring-your-own-napkins folding class, I'm game! Just message me on Facebook.

My suggestion today does not call for origami skills. I simply bought star shaped cookie cutters for 99 cents a piece at Crackerjacks in Rockport. Snowflake ones would be really cute too! Simply lay out your square cloth napkins (or paper if less formal), pick each one up in the center with a flourish, and pull the end you are holding through the cookie cutter up to where the napkin starts to open. They basically arrange themselves into an impressive display but you can also fan them out more if you like. I then added a candy cane to the cookie cutter and, for this particular dinner for my dance school friends, little Nutcracker Ballet cupcake decorations I found at Marshalls. They loved it :-) Sorry the close-up below appears sideways; it's actually not like that in the download, so I am not sure how to fix it <sigh>.

Candles are always a great addition to any holiday table. I personally prefer groups of tealights in pretty holders because open flame candles can be hard to safely pass dishes around them. Unscented ones work best because candles with a strong scent will interfere with the delicious aroma of your food. If you have gourmets over for dinner, they will notice that. Another pretty addition to a festive table is a display of candies and cookies as a centerpiece, or placed at the end of the table. I especially love a 2-tiered cookie stand for that purpose because it is just the right height. And it will remind guests to save room for dessert ;-)

Seasonal floral arrangements are of course always gorgeous as well. Just don't make them too high so guests can still see each other across the table without talking to the flowers. And please keep in mind that pointsettias as well as many types of berries are poisonous to pets. A simple bouquet of short-stem red or white roses, perhaps displayed in a silver-tone ice bucket, are a perfect alternative.

Have fun setting your holiday table!!!