A holiday of hospitality

Published 9:00 am Saturday, December 22, 2018

Sisters offer tips for table settings this season


Holidays come with family traditions. For sisters Lea Nowak and Ann Goodmanson, one of those traditions was seasonal place settings on their family table.

Nowak said they grew up watching her mom put a lot of effort into elaborate and festive table settings. She taught her daughters they could put their own touches on their table settings, and the rest is history.

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Nowak, a Wells resident, gets into the more traditional side of the holiday season with her table settings. Two of her favorites are an Advent setting and an Epiphany setting.

Advent observes the four weeks leading up to Christmas and the arrival of Jesus Christ. With four candles, one being lit as each week passes, Nowak decorates the table with a dark blue cloth adorned in stars to represent the dark December sky. Green cuttings from Nowak’s evergreen trees represent hope, and the round shapes to different elements in the setting represent God’s unending love, Nowak said.

Nowak’s Epiphany table setting celebrates the days following Christmas, or after the moment God showed who Jesus was, Nowak said. The setting involves the element of light, with each seat in the table setting getting its own candle.

Nowak said setting nice tables doesn’t have to break the bank. She has never bought any Christmas decorations specifically for her tables. The items adorning her tables come from around her house, like jewelry, different cloth items or simply turning glasses upside down, among other possibilities. She’ll frequently pick gourds, pine cones and evergreen branches from her yard to incorporate into her settings.

“People can find things in their own home,” she said.

Nowak said the table settings and colors she has come up with over the years have grown into a tradition with her children. They’ll often ask her “How’d I do for color?” when setting a table for company.

“I think hospitality is very important, especially around the holidays,” she said.

For Goodmanson, Christmas is the one holiday she brings out a plethora of dishes and settings for, and she uses them all month long. She started collecting Waechtersbach Christmas dishes about 30 years ago, and even with the pattern being discontinued, has managed to amass quite the collection. She said as soon as December roles around, she puts away her usual dishes and uses her Christmas set.

“It’s so festive, and you hope it builds some memories for your family,” she said.

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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