By Claire Staszak

Published on November 30, 2016

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Domino featured artist Kristi Kohut enlisted the help of Chicago-based designer Claire Staszak to plan a holiday gathering as colorful as her modern artwork. With a few simple do-it-yourself projects, this modern table setting is a breeze to create in any color palette that suits your dining space—especially useful if red and green just aren’t your thing.

“There’s no rule that says you have to use typical holiday colors that often don’t match your interior décor,” says Claire. “Instead, it’s fun to try a non-traditional approach and create a table setting that is unique, yet still festive.” Kristi’s artwork served as the inspiration for this bright and cheery holiday table. And neutral green and white florals, white plates with pewter chargers, and hand torn cloth napkins served as a backdrop for an assortment of colorful vintage glassware, watercolor painted cookies, and menus that double as little pieces of art. It’s surprisingly simple to bring these DIY elements together to create a table that is truly a reflection of your home and personal aesthetic.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Set A Color Palette

Begin by taking color inspiration from your dining area or artwork. Kristi’s vibrant artwork set the palette for the mix of bright glassware and menus with subtle dishware and napkins—but the reverse could work just as well. It’s the combination of neutrals plus pops of color that make for a pleasing mix.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Add Glassware in Multiple Colors

If you don’t have a mix of colorful glasses on hand, consider renting from a vintage dealer. Claire advises renting two or three glasses that coordinate with your color palette. Use one glass for water, one for wine and a third for a special holiday cocktail.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Collect Vintage Glasses  

A second option is to start your own collection of vintage glassware. It’s lovely to have a special set or two for the holidays. Vintage rental expert Kelly Connolly of Nimblewell advises to search “vintage (color you want) goblets” online. To get more specific, add the name of a reputable glass manufacturer such as, Fenton, Fostoria, Indiana, Imperial or Tiffin. Lastly, always check that the glass height is six to eight inches tall—unless you want mini glasses.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Make Napkins to Match Your Table

Most fabric stores have inexpensive crinkle cotton in a full range of colors. Measure out a generous 18 to 20 inches with a ruler, start your cut with scissors, and rip. It’s fun and will give the napkins an unfussy edge. Loosely knot them as pictured or fold in thirds and drape over the side of the table underneath each plate.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Use Simple and Seasonal Florals

Chicago florist Molly Flavin created simple, seasonal, unfussy arrangements using ornamental kale, green hydrangea, seasonal greens, and white roses. Claire recommends using three medium size arrangements for a typical table of eight and adding in a pop of color with a few one- and two-stem arrangements for a less formal look. Keeping the flowers in low containers encourages conversation at the table.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Don’t Be Afraid to DIY the Flowers

Call your local flower shop to pre-order stems of harder to find flowers, and purchase the rest from the grocery store, or grab some additional foliage from the backyard. You’ll need some simple clear vases and floral shears—two utilitarian purchases that will pay for themselves over and over again.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Try a New Cookie

Recipe Baker Cate Gutter created these eye-catching painted watercolor cookies. “Any sugar cookie or shortbread recipe can be used for these cookies,” says Cate. “While fondant is the best surface for this design, this look can be achieved with royal icing or a smooth buttercream, as well. And if you add buttercream underneath your fondant, you’ll please even the toughest cookie critic.”

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

How to DIY Watercolor Cookies

To create the edible “watercolor” cookies pictured, use a toothpick to mix lemon extract with Wilton gel colors, and paint on top of the fondant with a brush. Cate recommends using a marshmallow fondant like this one.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Make Your Menu a Piece of Art

Tie your color palette and table together with a 5×7-sized post card, which can double as your menu. Create your own artwork by hand, digitally, or purchase pretty postcards from a local stationary shop. Guests can leave with a frame-worthy piece of art.

Pin It
Photography by ANNA SODZIAK

Setting the Stage

Kristi’s advice for hosting is to remember that setting the table is like setting the stage. “There’s magic to a really good meal,” she says. “By bringing many elements together—the people, the food, the table, and the ambience—you are creating a mood, which can lift your guests out of the everyday and reach all their senses.”

Seen here: Kristi Kohut (left) and Claire Staszak (right) at Krist’s home studio.

Creative Direction: Claire Staszak

Prop Styling: Jennie Cornell