Fun fact: I'm an ex-military kid and I've moved just short of one million times. All of that moving quickly trains you to absolutely DESPISE clutter and unnecessary stuff. One skill I feel like I've really worked on is building a functional collection of tableware that I can simply customize for the season with small details and meaningful pieces. I get immediately overwhelmed when I think about seasonal decor because all I can picture are bins upon bins of dusty crinkled ribbon and wreaths I hated the year I bought them but felt too guilty to get rid of because I spent money on them! Since obviously this is a bit of a hot topic for me (especially since my husband is a VERY sentimental borderline hoarder) I thought I'd share some tips on how we've found a really happy medium while still fully embracing the holidays.
Focus on the foundational pieces: When I got my first apartment I took a trip to Crate + Barrel and bought a set for four of good, solid white dishes. When I moved in with Chris I went and bought another set of four. When we moved to Stamford I collected a few pieces of Juliska bamboo, and when I got the itch for more festive tableware I picked up a set for six of stunning white Bavarian china with a gold rim at Goodwill. When I noticed that a bread plate was missing I didn't care because I knew I could seamlessly layer the china in with my Crate + Barrel basic to both include a bread plate OR add additional table settings. The table above for example is set for six even without the full set of china.
Buy only what you love: This seems obvious but ALL of us know the effect of the Target Christmas aisle. You're there for a string of white lights and next thing you know your cart is an EXPLOSION of glittered birds! Gold foil banners spelling out HOLIDAY CHEER!! Blush-toned mega-packs of ornaments that inspire you to re-do your entire TREE! You know how it goes. I've learned to resist the holiday impulse and stop to ask myself if these trendy elements are things that will a) add to my current collection of family heirlooms and favorite pieces and/or b) will these things MEAN anything to me a year from now. In my opinion it's ok to think this seriously about STUFF - you'll find that most of the time the answer to at least one of those questions will be 'no' and you'll save yourself a lot of clutter.
On a similar note, we moved to a 600-sq ft right after we were married so I didn't have the space to store all of our wedding decor such as the mussel shells my dear friend Sarah hand gold leafed for us and the striped linen table runner that our grandmother sewed for our head table out of fabric my friend in the visual department at my last job gave me after I admired the spring window displays. Instead I just started USING it - and I realized I'd really rather enjoy it all the time. Now I focus on layering holiday decor into these foundation instead of creating trendy tablescapes year after year.
Stick to a simple color palette: If asking yourself the two questions above doesn't work, this filter typically will. Our home is mostly neutrals, blues, whites, warm natural whites, brass, and polished nickel. When I look at our home holistically it's pretty easy to see that rose gold glittered napkin rings will look sort of ridiculous with all of the items I already love. Tartan red napkins, however, are the perfect pop of color to transition my navy and white table for the holiday season. Orange mini pumpkins and navy and white gingham napkins translate that exact same table from summer to Thanksgiving.
Use fresh "living decor" as your base for seasonal updates: This has been the most recent "a-HA" for me - use fresh greens as much as possible! This has allowed me to feel creative and inventive year after year without overinvesting. This year I purchase boxwood wreaths and juniper roping from Trader Joe's. I added inexpensive velvet ribbon and white taper candles and it feels fresh and classic alongside our white tree lights and traditional red, gold, and green ornaments. I'll toss the greens at the end of the season and "start over" next year, still utilizing my classic foundational pieces. Fresh greens also look rich and indulgent but are exponentially cheaper than re-creating your holiday table each year!
Re-evaluate when you pack things up for the year: There is no better time to re-evaluate your decor than when you organize it all to pack it away for the next year. Every year I find things that have lost their luster or honestly never even made it out of storage! Toss it. You inevitably will add some elements to your collection each year - no need to hold on to things you don't love.
I am sure that I'll have more to add to this later, but I hope a few of these tips resonate with you! I'd love to hear in the comments how you organize and maintain your tableware collection for the seasons!