Tips on dressing up your table for the holidays

By Deborah Gleiberman
debgliebermanWhat is creative luxury? It means using creativity to enrich our lives. Whether you find an inventive way to store toiletries, fold clothes while humming a song, or add an unexpected spice to a chicken dish, you are accessing your creative side. Luxury is refinement of living rather than a necessity. Well, if you ask me, refinement is a necessity! When I set a table, I want it to look beautiful and refined. It just doesn’t need to cost a lot, at the holidays or anytime. Anyone with the right pocketbook can walk into Saks Fifth Avenue and buy the latest Baccarat votives, call a florist, and call it a day. But for the average mom whose go-to blush stick just might be a pack of ketchup and whose little ones are begging for a Wii or (worse!) an iPad, creativity in the luxury department is a necessity.

Refinement does not need to mean expensive.

ChanukahSpeaking of electronics, I love to get my children away from video games and involved in creative projects. On a recent afternoon, I sat down with my girls Mia, eleven, and Rose, eight; we made decorations and place cards out of cardboard, wrapping paper, and glitter. My son Jack, fourteen, was probably playing a video game. Mia might just be more creative than me. She started making flowers out of colored tissue paper, and they are so beautiful! I placed them in a glass urn with little bits of mirrored glass. Add in a little blue glass and china, and voila! You have Chanukah.

ThanksgivingFor the Thanksgiving table, we hollowed pumpkins, scooping out the flesh and seeds with our hands (Rose’s favorite part), and used them as vases. I bought the produce and flowers at my nearby Trader Joe’s for next to nothing, and then we ate the fruit all week (except the apples dripped in candle wax). We hung cards from a little driftwood tree with things we are grateful for and called it a giving tree. A new tradition for us, a giving tree is a stunning way to get people involved at the table. You can use a topiary tree if you have one.

ChristmasFor Christmas, glitz is always good. A simple iron mouse is cute; a peppermint stick pushed through him is over the moon. Try taking natural objects, like leaves or coral, and spray-paint them gold or silver. Arrange them on a cake plate with flowers from your garden, along with a little fruit, and you have a beautiful conversation starter.

That’s the thing about creative luxury: it creates conversations and memories too. All the time I could spend running from store to store, trying to find the perfect object, I spend at home with my kids. After the flowers have wilted and the centerpiece is long gone, the memories of time used to create together live on.

Artist and designer Deborah Rhein has been a fixture on the Los Angeles design scene since 1991. Deborah oversees two DL Rhein retail locations in Los Angeles.