Yes, the table is set in beautiful linens and stunning china, and that's because I didn't set it. We all have our talents in this world, and while I can quote the entirety of the movie-within-a-movie "Angels with Filthy Souls" from "Home Alone," designing a dazzling tablescape is not one of those talents.

Lucky for you, JoBeth McElhanon of Lilias & Olive does possess that talent, and it's on full display in the pages of this issue. Here McElhanon gives her insight on avoiding holiday stress and bringing traditions to life.

On Hiring an Event Planner

"Most of us lead very busy lives and the hustle kicks into overdrive during the holiday season. As the end of the year arrives, we have good intentions of gathering with dear friends to celebrate, but this rarely happens once office and school parties fill our dance card. Hiring an event planner for private holiday dinners with friends or family is a gift to give yourself, allowing quality connection with the ones you love and peace of mind that all the details will be covered."


In Defense of Fine China

"Most people correlate a china registry with a wedding, but china makes a great gift at any stage of life, which is why I’m thrilled to see Tipton and Hurst open a registry. When I was in college, my grandmother began gifting me a beautiful holiday pattern. She passed away before I got married, but every Christmas as I set the table, I feel that she is with us.

"I love the tie to history that inherited china, or what I call 'legacy' china, can bring to the table and the memories it evokes for my guests and me. I inherited several patterns that I love to mix and match with my service. If you have inherited china, you may want to start a new seasonal collection, match a new color scheme in your dining room or add a new salad dish to freshen the look."


On Giving the Perfect Gift

"Since our St Lucia's Day brunch is a celebration of light, a candle seemed a natural choice as a gift. This Anna La Cire candle from Bear Hill is poured in a beautiful alabaster vessel that can be used long after the candle — which smells heavenly — is gone.

"For the Feast of the Seven Fishes, Herend monogrammed coasters from Tipton and Hurst are a beautiful alternative to place cards for the layered table setting and make for special keepsakes for your guests."

See more of these elegant settings here: Yuletide Spirit: Gathering Around the Table.