By Megan Patrick, Staff Writer
Make your holiday dinner gathering even more special by creating one or more of these simple DIY place setting and centerpiece projects. Your table will look lovely and your guests will feel that much more appreciated.
Pick up a bag of pinecones from the craft store. Or, if your yard is full of cones, gather them up and bring them inside to transform them into a holiday decoration. Wash the pinecones to get rid of any debris, then bake them in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour. When they're completely dry, spray them with glue and sprinkle them with silver, gold or red glitter. You can use a single pine cone to hold name cards for individual place settings or you can display them in a bowl.
If you don't have the space for a full-size tree or you don't think the traditional holiday look complements your modern decor, go for this pared-down version. Find a fallen branch in your neighborhood and clean it of any debris with a damp cloth. You can create a base for the branch with a vase filled with stones or gravel. Spray paint the branch for a sleeker look, then decorate with a few simple ornaments.
These traditional holiday decorations are as fragrant as they are pretty. Simply poke holes in any pattern you like in an orange and push whole cloves into the skin. You can display several in a large bowl in the center of the table or use individual ones beside each place setting.
Instead of doing a more formal candle display, use Mason jars or bail jars to create festive holiday displays. Fill the jars with pinecones, ornaments, nuts or spices then tie a ribbon or twine around the top. Place a tea light on the closed lid and light just as dinner starts.
You can make these 3-D folded-paper Christmas trees with any color paper that suits your decor, or experiment with patterned papers meant for scrapbooking. Scatter a few of these mini trees around your holiday table or make one for each place. You can find complete instructions here.
These pretty pinecones do double duty. After you're finished displaying them together as a centerpiece or individually at each place, you can use them as fire starters for campfires and outdoor fire pits! To make them, melt paraffin wax in a double boiler and stir in a few pieces of broken crayon to add color. Then use tongs to dip each pinecone in the wax mixture. Let the excess wax drip off and allow the cones to dry on waxed paper for a few hours.
For a super-easy holiday surprise, set the table with a traditional "cracker" at each place. You can order pre-made crackers online. Or, if you're filling ambitious, you can make them yourself by following these instructions. Have your guests open their small gifts together to create a great noise of celebration.
Gather up your iciest ornaments to create this chilly centerpiece. Go for pale blues, white and silver. Use a crystal bowl or glass punch bowl for the most impact.
If there will be children at your holiday dinner, take a tip from restaurants and give them something to draw on while the adults socialize. Hit the craft store to find plain chalkboards and wooden snowflakes. You can spray paint the snowflakes white or silver and affix them with hot glue. Don't forget to pick up a box of chalk to go with it.
A bell jar on a cupcake stand makes the perfect way to display your favorite ornaments, a miniature tree or holiday-themed sculpture. For larger displays, you can use a glass-domed cake stand or even a domed cheese plate.
Delight your guests with a tiny gift as a place setting. You could wrap up a holiday treat to go or give each guest something small and special just for them. Complement the mini presents with a stack of larger wrapped boxes arranged as a centerpiece.
A gingerbread house is a lot of work to put together but a cookie tree (gingerbread or sugar cut-out) is as easy as pie. Just cut out cookies using graduated star-shaped cookie cutters. After the cookies are baked and cooled, stack them together from largest to smallest. Use royal icing to hold the layers together. Decorate with candy and icing just like you would a house!