Holiday decorating tips from Jillian Harris

November 2, 2010

From "Man Glam" to modern or traditional, Jillian has some ideas for sophisticated tabletop designs that will carry you through the holiday entertaining season.

  • Shades of gray are a huge color trend right now, Jillian says. When going gray, be sure to add a pop of color or sparkle. Go with some Hollywood glitz with sequin, bead, jewel or metallic accents on charger plates and wine or martini glass detailing. (Z Gallerie, $15.80 - $31.80, for a set of four charger plates)
  • Get creative with napkin holders, she says. For example, enhance the "Man Glam" look by winding metallic men's wristwatches (Target, $20 each) around light gray or black linen napkins (World Market, $12 for a set of six).
  • Incorporate various textures by layering your foundation- your tablecloth or runner- with different-style placemats and linen napkins.
  • Candles and/or flowers are to be expected within your centerpiece, but make a statement with a white, ceramic sculpture, Jillian says. Find a stallion, lion or other regal-looking, inexpensive decorative accessory - sold at discount places like Home Goods, Tuesday Morning or Hobby Lobby (prices vary).
  • Why stop at a white centerpiece? Jillian adds. Modernists can go all white with dishes, linens and clear crystal glassware. This creates a clean, bright design that puts the food and wine at center stage. Use materials with minimal black patterns to create dimension.
  • For traditionalists, go for rustic, organic decor -- use warm shades of orange or gold and hints of shimmer. Use plenty of candles for soft, ambient lighting. Pin name cards to seasonal fruit or mini-pumpkins to top off each place setting, Jillian says.


    You can pick up some tablet-top tips from Jillian Harris and other top designers at Dining By Design this weekend. The benefit is sponsored by DIFFA (Design Industry Fighting AIDS) which brings together talented individuals in the world of interior design, art and architecture to design over 30 tabletop and dining environments. Jillian will appear on Saturday, November 6 from noon to 1:30 p.m. and showcase her own table design sponsored by architecture firm The Dobbins Group. Her appearance is part of "Table Hop and Taste" event featuring savory culinary treats from local restaurants including RL, Riva, Prosecco, Markethouse, City Provisions, ZED 451 and Province. The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $30..

    The three-day Dining By Design event kicks off with Cocktails by Design on Thursday, November 4. At this fund-raising party, celebrated mixologist Adam Seger will be creating a signature cocktail, DIFFA Rouge. A contestant on this season of The Apprentice, Stephanie Castagnier will attend in support of DIFFA. Stephanie founded the AIDS organization Child Cause after having lost both parents to AIDS at a young age. Cocktails by Design runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $100.

    The table-tops and dining areas will be on display on Friday, November 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets for the open house are $10 and are available at the door.

    Guests at the 'Believe Tables Gal'a on Saturday, November 6 will actually dine on the table settings created for the benefit. The gala starts at 8 p.m. Individual tickets are $500.

    DIFFA's Dining by Design will be held on the 8th floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. For more information or tickets, visit or call 312.644-6412.

    DIFFA, Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS is one of the largest funders of HIV/AIDS service and education organizations in the U.S. Since its founding in 1984, DIFFA has mobilized the immense resources of the design communities to provide more that $38 million to hundreds of AIDS organizations nationwide. DIFFA/Chicago is one of 15 chapters and community partners nationwide.

    Thursday through Saturday
    8th Floor
    Merchandise Mart

    About Jillian Harris

    Jillian Harris first charmed an audience with her irrepressible humor and emotional honesty on ABC's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." Now Jillian brings 10 years experience in the design industry to "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"

    Growing up in the picturesque Peace River valley in Alberta was a catalyst for Jillian's creativity and vivacious character. A self-proclaimed "polished redneck," she's not afraid to get her hands dirty or climb a ladder with heels on. Whether applied to design or daily life, she carefully combines elements of the metropolis and country, low brow and high class, and the classic versus the absurd. From ATV'ing and campfire roasts to perusing the shops of the Merchandise Mart for design trends- or searching endlessly for the perfect pair of heels- Jillian's motto about 'doing it all' never rests.

    While this lifestyle makes Jill the quintessential "busy bee," those close to her would say her passion to make others happy might be the highlight to her multi-faceted personality. So when Extreme Makeover Home Edition asked her to join the team as a permanent designer, it was a perfect complement to her love for design and her love of helping others. This venture was a cherry on top of her truly blessed life.

    Outside of her work in television, Jillian jets between the U.S. and Canada to run her firm Jillian Harris Design, where she creates custom-made 18th century dining and lounge pieces, and collaborates on restaurant interiors with architecture firm The Dobbins Group. In her free time, Jillian thrives while traveling, taking in fine fashion and, of course, cuisine. She is dedicated to charities including supporting no-kill animal shelters and recycling initiatives, and she sits on the board of Big Brother Big Sisters.

    For more information, visit or follow her at Twitter: @designerjillian

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