Dressed for the holidays

Bright greens and ivory set an elegant mood
Ann Bertelsen and Mary Jo Bowling

For a fresh alternative to the traditional Christmas palette, we decorated this tabletop with materials in soft shades of green and white set against a backdrop of crisp white linens.

Napkins are embellished with simple embroidery: Each has a small Christmas tree stitched near one corner.

Dried split peas add color to centerpieces brimming with sweet-smelling freesias and tulips. (If you can't find these flowers at this time of year, white roses are a good alternative.)

To complete the tablescape, we filled clear glass Christmas ornaments with green or white flower petals or leaves and attached placecards to them. Guests can take the ornaments home to hang on their own trees.

Floral centerpiece

The key to this arrangement is the vase: The bright green color and pebblelike texture come from dried green split peas, readily available at grocery stores.

Place a small, low glass cylinder inside a larger, low glass cylinder (ours measure 3 in. and 5 in. in diameter and cost about $5 each), then fill the larger container with enough peas to hide the smaller one, which holds the flowers.

Embroidered napkins

Simple stitching transforms plain linen napkins. A few inches from one corner of a napkin, use a pencil to outline a small, triangular Christmas tree (our tree is 1 in. on each side); fill in with green cotton embroidery thread. Add three small stitches at base of the triangle to form the trunk.

Glass-ornament placeholders

Carefully pull the metal cap out of a ball-shaped glass ornament and use tweezers to insert flower petals or leaves one at a time. Replace cap and attach ribbon and placecard to the metal loop. We used green and white fresh hydrangeas, but you can substitute silk ones.