(Image credit: Danielle Tsi)

There's enough going on with the holidays — let's make setting the table the easy part, shall we? When my friend Tracy and I were planning our Cozy Holiday Potluck, we agreed that we wanted to keep the table simple, rustic, and festive. The easiest way to do this, we quickly realized, was obvious: bring in the evergreens! Here's what we did — it's so easy I have no doubt you can do it too.

(Image credit: Danielle Tsi)

1. Find Yourself Some Evergreens

First order of business: find yourself a source for some evergreen branches. Tracy has some trees in her backyard that she was able to scavenge. If you're not so lucky, check your local Christmas tree lot — you can often pick up trimmings cut from the trees they sell for pennies.

Either way, I definitely recommend getting your branches as close to your party as you can. This way, they'll be at their freshest and greenest for the party. Tracy picked the ones for our party in the morning and let them sit on her dining room table all day. They'll actually keep fairly well just like that for a day or two, but after that, they start shedding needles and making a mess.

(Image credit: Danielle Tsi)

2. Greens Two-Way: Branches and Mini-Trees

Lay your branches along the length of your table. No need to get too fancy here — they look best just as they are and we'll be filling in the spaces between the branches later. Think of the greens like a table runner.

Next, let's bring in some height with a few mini-trees. You can sometimes find these at Christmas tree lots, but also look for little rosemary trees at places like Trader Joe's and garden stores. The ones we used were actually artificial trees from IKEA! For a long table like Tracy's, we used two — one at either end. If your table is smaller, just one would look mighty fine.

The idea here is to keep with the greenery theme, but give our table runner of branches a little lift upwards. Mini-trees are not so high that you can't see over them to talk to the person across from you, but still add some visual interest to the table.

(Image credit: Danielle Tsi)

3. Accent with Silver and White

Here's where you take "rustic" and make it festive. Tracy cut some simple paper snow flakes and scattered them around the table, then dangled some mini disco balls from the mini-trees. The disco balls added a particularly festive touch! Look for simple, inexpensive silver ornaments like these at places like Target and World Market.

Candles are the finishing touch. Tracy had some beautiful silvery candle holders that were perfect for holding thick pillar candles, and she placed those between the mini-trees. She scattered some smaller votives around the rest of the table for added coziness.

The rest of the space on our table was filled in with piles of napkins and canisters of silverware. As you look at your own table, think about balancing each element along the whole length and on either side. Look for spaces and holes, but also don't be afraid to let that lovely evergreen shine through.

Simple enough? Think you can do it? I think so! Have you ever set a table with evergreens? What other tips do you have?

(Image credit: Danielle Tsi)
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