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by: Amanda Gray

Whether you’re a seasoned Floridian or lucky enough to spend time near the coast through the season, there’s no better time to level up your coastal decorating skills than during the holidays. Traditional coastal decor invites the calming senses of the beach to your home, while the holidays allow for dashes of festive whimsy. Here are six ways to combine the two for the ultimate coastal holiday table and leave your guests swooning with holiday spirit..

1 – Pick a theme and make it your North Star. Deciding on an overall vibe for the look you want will help you stay on course and encourage you to get creative. This is your table and your design, so whether your theme is aspirational or simple, go for it!

Pro tip: Use your favorite holiday songs, movies, and stories to help
you brainstorm and choose a theme. From there, you can layer in coastal touches.

2 – Use what you have. If you’re home sweet home, staying with friends or family, or in a seasonal rental, take stock of what you already have on hand. Glassware is a great place to start, and using a variety of different shapes and sizes will
add dimension and depth that will dazzle your guests wherever they look. Fill wine glasses halfway with beach sand, sprinkle some glitter atop, and use as candle sconces. Use vases to hold colorful Christmas bulbs. Dress up everyday items, like serving platters or trays, with beach-themed ornaments for a vignette of a beachy village.

Pro tip: As you browse the house, treat it as a shopping trip. By viewing items as if for the first time, you’ll be better able to reimagine them as part of your design. And, you can’t beat a shopping trip where everything is free.

3 – Bring the outdoors in! Winter in Florida means plenty of items to scavenge from the beach, or even the yard. The best, and perhaps easiest, way to create a coastal table is to use the coast itself. So, grab a basket and get outside and gather. From your citrus tree to clippings from plants to shells, the natural elements that you bring inside can go a long way. Incorporating simple, natural items can quickly transform your space into an extension of the beautiful coastal environment outside.

Pro tip: Use sprigs of Spanish moss or some seashells as accent pieces. Stagger
throughout your tablescape and mix and match outdoor items with indoor ones for a subtle, textured look that will make your tablescape pop. A seashell placed on a napkin or a palm placed in the center piece make for a festive, inviting flair.

4 – Add a twist to your traditions. Don’t be afraid to try something new. ’Tis the season to let your inner designer shine. If clean and minimal is your go-to, dare to add a vintage touch. If you always use place settings and name tags when hosting, use ‘old Florida’ postcards for place settings for a unique and low-cost option that will bring a smile to your guests as they are seated. You can also consider tapping into trends that complement your traditions, creating a connection to holidays
past and present. Monochromatic color schemes are popular and can be used to elevate your go-to style this year.

Pro tip: Give your plates a makeover using cloth dinner napkins topped with a palm or fern frond. Have kids at home? Have them create stamp art using seashells or dried sand dollars and ink on paper name tags.

5 – Shop local. Adding new adornments to your holiday collection never goes out of style. There is always a vendor, artist, or small business to support in Bradenton. So, make a special trip to the Village of the Arts or the Saturday Bradenton Public Market to procure local items that will make for a one-of-a-kind experience at your table.

Pro tip: Citrus, flowers, small tokens, and artwork incorporated into your design can add a beachy and local feel that will make your guests feel that they’ve been invited to the most exclusive event in town. Perhaps you can even have your guests take
them home as a parting gift.

6 – Light it up. No design element can bring instant ambiance to a space more than light. Mix and match traditional candles with LED for a treat for the senses. Formal tapered candles flanked by smaller, blinking LED candles make for an exciting light display that will spotlight all the work you’ve done, curating the perfect coastal table. And, don’t forget the role that candles play when it comes to aromatherapy. Local or online shops will have every Florida scent imaginable; some might even combine Florida scents with holiday scents for coastal-inspired scents.

Pro tip: Purchase battery-powered LED candles that include a remote. Once seated, you can dim the lights or adjust them at various points of your party for a truly interactive design that will delight your guests. If the lights are dimmed enough, you might just forget that you’re not actually sitting at the beach.

The most important part of designing a tablescape is to honor your own creativity and taste. Remember, your table is a blank canvas. As long as you thoughtfully curate items for your tablescape and make deliberate choices, you can’t go wrong.

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