A compelling tablescape hits the right balance of nostalgia and wit, says COLETTE VAN DEN THILLART. Imagine a clever Dickensian arrangemen­t, she suggests, using conversati­on-worthy books as plinths (think Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, Lesley Blanch’s The Wilder Shores of Love) for inquisitiv­e silver birds and Thomas Messel’s faux-leather-book ice bucket repurposed for greenery. Gold rechargeab­le lamps trimmed in a ruby silk brush fringe (Samuel & Sons) replace candles, and a botanical fabric (like Greenbrier, which she created with Nicky Haslam for Fabricut) in nuanced shades of holiday green. That’s a table that speaks volumes.

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