Christmas Linens

If you don't come from one of those fanatical "7 china sets" families (like mine) but you still want to have a pretty holiday table sans holly painted plates, linens are the way to go. A few choice cloths require little storage space, and can be mixed and matched during other seasons of the year.

Linens are also a wonderful heirloom to hand down to daughters and granddaughters. I still have some of my grandmother's pieces, and everytime I unfold them, I think of her. A few months ago I threw a large baby shower with a friend who had so many family linens that we were able to do the entire event with antique pieces from her linen closet: tables, runners, and napkins, all finely crafted. They made the event rich in decor and memories.
Here, a few ideas to get you started - some are selected with the grandkids in mind (Sferra, Yves Delorme), while others are just pretty choices (Macys, Anthropolgie). Enjoy!

The Table Runner: Red and gold Margarite runner, by Fino Limo. Available at One King's Lane. Small, $99. Perfect for use on tables too lovely to hide. An arrangement of candles, greenery, and gold holiday balls in the center would be beautiful.

The Neutral Cloth: Acanthus pattern, from Sferra. Available in garnet, light green, gold, and white. Small, $239.

The Colonial Christmas: Anthropologie Flora and Fauna tablecloth. Small, $58. Not your traditional Christmas style, but it reminds me very much of the Noah's Ark designs popular in colonial days, and the frequent pairing of bright fruits and blue grays in their decor. Match it with burgundy and gold accents and some evergreen.

Non-Traditional Colors: I'm dreaming of an aqua Christmas. Lenox Chirp double placemats at Macys, $6.99.

Red Plus One: Mix other shades in with red for a festive spirit. From Yves Delorme, bright Recevior table linens.

Classic Christmas: This nutcracker plate pattern and plaid linens from Williams Sonoma are wonderfully festive - and a step away from the typical holly. Tartan tablecloth 70 x 90 $69.95.

I can't say enough about collecting antique linens as well. A few visits to your local antique shops and outdoor markets will quickly make you realize that quality linens are incredibly affordable. I had the chance to shop with Eddie Ross last summer, and he loves to collect linen pieces like that. He said that they don't have to be matched sets - the napkins can all be different, or just different from the table cloth. Already monogrammed? Eddie suggested finding single monograms that fit your own first or last name.

Antique linens at Scott's Antique Market in Atlanta.

Caring for linens shouldn't be daunting - just pay a little attention and follow the rules. I haven't ruined one yet! One of my favorite home care writers is Cheryl Mendelson, author of the home care bible EVERYONE should own, Home Comforts. But she's also come out with a special edition just for that ever tricky subject: Laundry. Buy both books for yourself (and your home) for Christmas - available at Amazon.
All tablecloth images, brands as listed. Antique linens, my own.
Linen cabinet, Wreath, Sketch from the book Occasions, by Kate Spade, at Amazon. Aqua room, Traditional Home. All other room images, Country Home.


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