Changing tableaux

Quick-change table trimmings set the scene for Christmas and New Year's
Ann Bertelsen

Can't decide on silver or gold this season? You can have it both ways by pulling a few simple switches. China and crystal at these festive tables remain basically the same, but the tablecloth, napkins, and seasonal fruits change to produce two different looks. The richness of a tablecloth, ribbons, and napkins touched with gold, teamed with ruby red pears and pomegranates, strikes a Yuletide note. Replace the red fruit with green, add a few silver balls, substitute silvery linens, and your holiday table is set for a New Year's party.

Our tablescapes, created at the home of Palo Alto interior designer Suzanne Mann-Moore, are made on glass cake stands set on a silver tray, one stand slightly smaller than the other to create a tiered effect like a wedding cake. The New Year's setting has an additional tier ― a small silver dish topped with a decorative green pear and frosted grapes.

CHRISTMAS. Bright red pears trimmed in braid, sugar-frosted grapes, and glazed crabapples accent this Yuletide setting with its touches of gold. To make the glittery mesh leaves, click here.

NEW YEAR'S. Silver balls with metallic-accented linens and green fruit embellished with silver cording set the tone for New Year's Eve.

COST: Approximately $35 for each table

Follow the instructions to decorate the fruit. Arrange it on the cake stands, alternating frosted, glazed, decorated, and plain fruit with sparkling ornamental balls. Weave ribbon (about 3 yards) loosely into the arrangement. Use pomegranates or small green apples to hold the place cards.

GOLD-TRIMMED APPLES OR PEARS

TIME: 20 minutes

MATERIALS

* 3 1/2 yards 1/8-inch gold braid or ribbon

* Five large red apples or pears

* One pack antique gold upholstery pins, available from craft and fabric stores

Cut a 22-inch piece of gold braid. Pin one end about 1/4 inch to the left of the fruit's stem. Run braid diagonally across the fruit, under the base, and up the other side to the top. Pin braid about 1/4 inch to the right of the stem. Run braid diagonally back down front of fruit (crossing first section), under base, and up to top. Push a pin into each intersection of braid. If desired, tie wire-edged gold ribbon around the stem. Repeat with remaining fruit.

 

PEARS WITH SILVER STEMS

TIME: 20 minutes

MATERIALS

* 8 yards metallic silver cording

* Six large green pears

* Pins

Cut a 48-inch piece of cording. Pin one end of cording to the base of the stem. Wind the cording twice around the stem, then down the length of the pear, looping it under the base, and up the other side. Wind once around the stem and pin at the base and top. Repeat the process to divide the pear into eighths, securing cording with pins where necessary. Twist cording to cover most of the stem before completing the final loop, then run it down the side of the pear, tucking the end out of sight in the base with a pin. Repeat with remaining fruit.

APPLE SPIRAL

TIME: 15 minutes

MATERIALS

* 8 yards metallic silver cording

* Eight small green apples

* Pins

Cut a 33-inch piece of silver cording. Push one end deep into the apple at the base of the stem. Secure with a pin. Carefully wind cording around the apple in a spiral, working from top to bottom, pinning in place at regular intervals. Tuck end out of sight in the base with a pin. Repeat with remaining fruit.

 

GLAZED FRUIT

TIME: 30 minutes

MATERIALS

* 4 1/2 cups sugar

* 2 cups light corn syrup

* Dash of salt

* 16 crabapples, small Lady apples, or small red pears

In a 3-quart pan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1 cup water. Without additional stirring, bring the mixture to a boil and cook until temperature measures 290° (293° if weather is humid) on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and wait a few seconds for bubbles to subside.

NOTE: To retain richness of color, drop 2 tablespoons red food coloring in the mixture and stir.

Grease a baking pan or a cake rack; set rack over foil. Working quickly and carefully (wear protective gloves to prevent burning), pierce each small apple or pear behind its stem with a long wood skewer and dip into syrup, using a long-handled wood spoon to coat entire fruit with syrup. Drain off excess syrup; set fruit on prepared baking sheet or cake rack. Remove skewers before glaze hardens.

NOTE: When syrup thickens, replace over low heat until hot and thin. Remove from heat and dip remaining fruit.

Once the glaze has hardened (after about 15 minutes), fruit can be stored, tightly covered, in a cool, dry place up to two days. Do not refrigerate.

FROSTED FRUIT

TIME: 15 minutes

MATERIALS

* One box (16 oz.) superfine sugar

* 3 pounds red or green grapes, or small fruit

* Two egg whites (from extra-large eggs), slightly beaten

Sprinkle a liberal amount of sugar onto waxed paper (use 2 or 3 sheets). Dip a small cluster of grapes, or a single piece of fruit, into egg whites. Roll fruit in sugar until lightly coated, replenishing sugar as needed. If needed, use a spoon to distribute sugar evenly. Set fruit on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fruit and store in a cool area.