The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and more importantly, the table has been set, so let the festivities begin!

We always have our celebratory family meal on Christmas Eve. With such a large and complicated family, our philosophy has been to leave the inlaw/outlaw/ex-law disputes over Christmas Day to others. With a set plan for Christmas Eve everyone is welcome, come if you can and we understand if you can’t. It saves a lot of tears!

The styling of the table has changed with the advent of grandchildren. Banished for now are delicate, formal place settings and in their place are pieces chosen with an eye to childish delights.

Pier 1 had a series of battery-lighted paper houses this year. There were four in total, including a church, a barn and two houses. Perfect for a centrepiece as there were no wires to fuss with.

I put the extra leaf in the table, added the protective pads and draped the tablecloth a couple of days ago. On went the Pottery Barn red Caterer’s chargers, the flatware, the water goblets and wine glasses so I could see how much table real estate I was left with, Quite a lot, it turned out.

So I set the houses in place and realized there was room for a skating rink. I dug out our boxes of Dickens’ Village which have been languishing for some time. A few misadventures with cats batting the figurines to the ground and playing hockey with the severed limbs was enough to dampen that enthusiasm. But the survivors make a lovely tableau in a controlled environment, which happily is the case with our dining room as it can be shut off. I do love these carolers.

The dinner plates are two sets of six that I snagged on Overstock earlier this year. They’re by Certified International and feature six different tartans, three red and three green.

On top, we have Christmas Valley by David Carter Brown, a well-loved classic produced in 2002 but still going strong. It’s available at Replacements and on eBay if you’re patient.

That combination should be fairly childproof, don’t you think?

The old-fashioned scenes of a snowy Christmas landscape never fail to enchant.

They sent me searching for figures to complement the scenes on the plates. You can’t see the missing arm on the poor lamplighter, but he was the victim of an earlier feline assault.

My aunt gave me the trotting horse and carriage over 30 years ago. She has passed now, so it’s doubly special to be able to include her in this family meal. The little post box was a present from one of the kids many Christmases ago.

I had forgotten all the little figures we had! Eliza Doolittle’s flower cart was a fun surprise.

And another patient horse awaiting his driver.

Skaters whirl around the rink in the centre of the table.

I found I had all kinds of trees, like this holly that matches the gate into the rink.

We have a number of big, shaggy spruce trees, some stiff bottle brush style and more delicate birch trees, where I set up a herd of deer near the barn.

I don’t know who is going to have more fun with this – the kids or me! Ooops- I’m missing a plate. Better get on that before everyone arrives.

This is the church. It has a bit more glitz than the other houses but fit in nicely.  

Oh – and while I remember – the water goblets are Juliska’s Arabella (thank you, Elizabeth Speicher for alerting me to that sale; they’re now discontinued).  

The wine glass is antique wheel cut and from Elise Abrams Antiques.

Well, what do you think? Child-friendly enough and festive enough? 

A few more sources notes. The napkins are from HomeGoods last year.

The napkin rings are from Pier 1 last year. They have something similar this year, but they have bells. I don’t know who thought that one up, but they’d drive me mad; the kids would never stop fiddling with them.

Here is the red barn from Pier 1. I noticed it was the only one they still seemed to have in stock last week.

My only quibble with the houses is the backs don’t have much visual interest, so I staggered the fronts on alternate sides of the table.

And I put things at the back of the houses to offset that, like the trees behind the red barn, below.

And behind the white house – you can really see the back well in this one.

A few last peeks at the table.

We are all ready to go. Glenn has returned from the last run to the grocery store for a freshly baked baguette for the cheeses, and the port is lined up on the console ready to accompany them. I think it’s Adam’s favourite part of the meal. Turkey is all very well, but cheese!

And much as I have loved visiting with you, dear readers, I need to get on my horse and get going!

Happy Christmas to all!

I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.