Christmas at Sea Tabletop Theme from Carey Karlan

Christmas Tabletop at Sea

Holiday tabletop inspiration comes in all forms. From traditional to modern, you can truly create a holiday vibe that you love using inspiration from culture, art, and more. For a sea-themed Christmas, we're sharing some inspiration from interior designer Carey Karlan. Read on to check out more:

What tips would you give someone who is looking to create their holiday table for the first time?

Don't do ditsy! Take a point of view, be bold and stick to it. A little of this and a little of that just gets lost. Do multiples of the same thing: TONS of greens rather than a few sprigs, 10 candles marching down the table rather than 6, two dozen supermarket roses rather than a dozen hot house varieties. Don't try to cover several moods all at once. Treat the chandelier, windows in the room, sconces, mirrors, buffet top etc as part of the table design to enlarge your look. I often rent chairs for continuity when I have a big group. That way you can use a coordinating color on the chair and the chair cushion. Consider draping something over the back of each chair (scarf, small wreath, ribbon with greenery, fur throw, ornament etc) that expands the impact of the table.

What's the best way to pick a theme?

A theme just has to come to you. I always have a theme and the ideas come from different sources: popular culture (Madmen Christmas), new china (Victorian Christmas), an inherited Chinese silk jacket (Christmas in Shangrila), from my travels (Christmas in Paris), interests (Literary Christmas),love of bling (All That Glitters) etc.

What are some of your go-to brands that you like to use for holiday tables?

I shop locally at Palmers, Nielsens, Kirby, Seasons Two, Good Food Good Things and so forth. It puts me in a festive mood to go to the stores and see what's on display rather than buy my decorations on line. I also love to haunt all of the local antique shops! They have such good value on tabletop items. A table can be so interesting when unexpected collectibles are included. I of course make use of some of my favorite designer fabric lines from time to time….I have repurposed curtains in a spectacular Nobilis fabric from a showhouse I did, turning them into a very special tablecloth! Last year's Christmas at Sea was inspired by a Canovas toile fabric that I fell in love with. I just had to have it in my life!

Christmas at Sea Tabletop Inspiration

Tell us more about your Christmas at Sea theme and what brands you featured?

I used a red and white nautically themed toile from Canovas as my starting point. Keeping with the Captains House, old world, tall ship theme I gathered suitable items from my collections: an antique wood tea caddy filled with flowers, small globes pulled from bookends, ships in a bottle….TheDock Shop in Darien was a huge resource. I rolled up old maps, tied them with red ribbons and stuffed them in wreaths, used seafaring soaps as favors, bought glass floats as "Christmas Balls" on the mantle decor etc. I decorated an existing bust as a Gilbert and Sullivan type admiral. All of these things were visible from the table so I considered them part of the scheme!

Anything else to add?

I think it's nice to have something for the guests to "play with" on the table. I always have favors and crackers to add to the festivities. If it fits the theme I have paper under each plate and we play a word game before dessert complete with prizes temptingly displayed on the sideboard in a big silver punchbowl!