A rustic Alpine scene features seasonal greens and red, and snowy sports and animals that personalize the holiday array.

A side table or buffet carries on the Alpine theme with artisan wood trees and a series of green art glass candlesticks.

A table set with fine crystal and glass, flowing greenery and tiny snow birds is a sight to behold.

It’s that time of year when permission is granted to pull out all the stops. Even the most minimalist among us are tempted to add some sparkle and light and seasonal trimmings. Whether you are planning for a large holiday feast day or prefer more intimate get-togethers, free up your imagination and make the most of this joyous time of year.

Plan your table setting ahead of time so that you can arrange what you have on hand and shop for any extras that will make your scene pop. And yes, think of the table decor as a scene such as a winter wonderland. Build up from the table top, compose a centerpiece, then individual place settings. Here are a few tips.

Traditional white tablecloths are easy and practical, but for rustic appeal why not switch it up with a cozy, colourful blanket – it will feel like an indoor picnic. Choosing a colour scheme of white, green and red offers lots of options. There is always an abundance of place mats and napkins that will fit your mood. If you are a crafty person, make your own by stenciling a design onto white napkins using fabric paint.

Design your centerpiece with a combination of greenery and lights. Choose glass receptacles that will show off seasonal offerings such as fruit or nuts mixed with flowers and sprigs of green. The Alpine table shown here has grapes and rosemary layered in footed hurricane lamps. Space non-scented candles along the table. Battery-operated mini-lights entwined around a central setting are a sparkly delight.

Bring your table to life with ornaments and figures. You don’t need a menagerie …place a few reindeer prancing or grazing, a skater or skier, mini-sleds, snowshoes or any other characters that personify your idea of winter fun. You know how special you feel when your place at the table has a treat or two meant just for you! Personalize each place setting with a name, a surprise rolled into the napkin, a homemade cracker (groaner jokes are expected), and a sweet treat.

A side table or buffet offers space to continue your theme and does not have to disappear after the meal. In fact, a fanciful scenario will brighten your home for the weeks that surround the holidays right into the new year. A trio of green art glass candlesticks surround graphic wooden Christmas trees in a vignette from William Yeoward’s book Blue & White and other stories, which I reviewed last month. A simple selection of colours, in this case green, white and red, reflect the rustic atmosphere of an Alpine holiday.

For those with a flair for glitter and glamour, Yeoward sets his table with beautiful crystal and glass, shimmry silver trees and rose tinted goblets. Gorgeous crystal comports are laden with grapes and greenery. Pure white birds complete the idyllic scene.

I find myself torn between the practicality of artificial boughs and seasonal florals and the desire to spread around fresh greenery and blooms that fill room/s with their glorious outdoor scents. All faux is not equal; artistic renderings of pine and cedar, holly and berries allow you many days of carefree decorations, and fresh boughs and plants can be added at party time. Same with candles; I send out this warning every year, especially after our Christmas fire. Battery operated candle displays set a romantic glow, and if you are lighting real candles, never leave them unattended. Have a safe and happy holiday season.