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‘Tis the season to be hosting. We have officially made it to the time of year where the holidays take over. Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, a Holiday Party, or Christmas there is always something. Don’t get me wrong it is exciting, but it can also be stressful. 

We all want to be the hostess with the mostess! The Party Plan is here to help you lay out the ground work and we have called in an expert to help you put your plans into action.

We are collaborating with Kayla Sweigart, a local business owner and the queen of hosting, to share her insider tips on how to set the tablescape of your dreams! Without further ado, meet Kayla!

Hi everyone, my name is Kayla Sweigart! I am from Spartanburg, South Carolina and now live in the Columbia area with my husband and kids. I am a mom of two sweet kiddos, Porter (6 years) and Tinley (7 Months).

Art and design have always played a huge role in my life- I majored in Studio Art at Columbia College and have always had an interest in Art, Antiques, and Design. I get it naturally from my grandmother who always has played a huge inspiration in my career and aesthetic! Once upon a time I was an art teacher!

After I had my son, I stopped teaching and really missed having a creative outlet. Adjusting to motherhood made me feel a bit stir-crazy at times, so I started visiting local thrift and antique shops to fuel my creative side and fell in love with the hunt!

I started my personal Instagram page in 2016, @ksweigartcollection, where I shared vintage finds/inspiration and it took off. After a while, we ran out of room in our home to house all my treasures and knew it was time to expand to a brick-and-mortar. The @thelittlegreendoor opened in 2019 where you can shop our vintage and vintage-inspired home decor items in person and through Instagram. I still share lots of inspiration on my personal account as well and drop curated collections on that page weekly!

How far in advance do you typically begin planning and laying out your tablescape?For my curated-collection drops, I like to have my tablescape concepts planned out weeks- and sometimes months- in advance. However, as a mom of two and a small business owner, sometimes I’ve got to roll with the unexpected and let inspiration strike in the moment! 

What are the key elements of a tablescape? A strong color pallet, varied dishware, staggered shapes/textures/textiles, and- you guessed it- lots and lots of LAYERS!

Where do you begin when creating a tablescape?

Step 1 - Find inspiration & Select a color palette: I pull inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. I usually pick a color pallet first which influences the dishware, linens, florals, candlesticks, etc.

Step 2 - Build a foundation: Start with a tablecloth and build out from there. 

Step 3 - Create a focal point:Build a centerpiece. I like my designs to cascade outward and cover a lot of space on a table. Look for ways to add height and interest through staggering shapes, textures, and textiles along the table rather than having one centrally-focused centerpiece. You can go back an add to this once you have all your table settings placed!

Step 4 - Layer, layer, layer: Decide to use chargers or wicker placemats and then layer, layer, layer! I love stacking plates of varied shapes, colors, and patterns in my tablescape designs. (Don’t be afraid to mix and match- that’s where the magic happens!) 

Step 5 - Make it special: Add the finishing touches- like patterned napkins and fun napkin rings- to each setting until the layout feels really full and “fluffed.”  I’m also always sure to put more than one cup at each place setting (for water AND a cocktail)- because no meal is complete without both! ;)

What are important factors you consider as you go through this process?  A strong color pallet and sense of theme are key to creating cohesive designs. When I’m curating different spaces, I’m also always sure to ask myself: What am I serving? and Who am I serving it to? This helps me make practical decisions when picking out dishware and decorative pieces depending on what vibe I'm going for. I also like to use vintage pieces and give them a new twist. Champagne buckets are a great versatile piece you can use for not only chilling champagne but also for flowers!

At the Plan we love being a littleextraand adding special touches (magic) to everything, what are some ways to do this? I LOVE this question because I AM extra I Layer, layer, layer!!! I can’t emphasize that tip enough.Take risks! Mix patterns, incorporate florals, add bits of sparkle- be EXTRA and remember to have fun! Think outside the box and remember that there are no real “rules” in design. Get those creative juices flowing and strive to be bold and different!  

I only have 1 set of simple dishes, is it possible to still have a fancy, fun tablescape?Absolutely!! In fact, simple dishes make the perfect “blank” canvas for you to design around! I always advocate for investing in a few unique and timeless pieces that you’ll keep for years to come and getting creative with the rest.

What are your recommendations for those on a budget? Frequent your local thrift shops and see what fun pieces you can mix into your space. Mix old with new. Spruce up your design with fresh flowers and greenery- you could even pick foliage from your backyard! Get the family involved and get crafty. Beautiful design doesn’t have to be expensive- the possibilities are endless! 

Hometown: Spartanburg, South Carolina

Family: I met my husband Shawn, in college and we married in 2014. We had our son Porter in 2016 💙 and then our Tinley girl in 2022💖. It’s a wild ride with these three and they keep my on my toes constantly but I wouldn’t change it for anything. They are my biggest supporters. 

Hobbies:If it isn’t obvious by now, one of my favorite hobbies is hunting for beautiful antique pieces, but I also love finding new recipes, rearranging furniture, curating vignettes and tablescapes, and painting!

Favorite Restaurant: I LOVE Tazza Kitchen! They have the perfect, casual dining vibe and fabulous cocktails!

Favorite Cocktail: A margarita! A classic that never, ever fails. Or a Dirty Martini 🍸 because sometimes you just need a stiff cocktail after a long day. 

Favorite Small Business:Clothes: Anthropologie is an absolute favorite! Some of my local favorites are:Slate on DevineMonkees of Columbia, andScout and Molly’s Columbia

👗Home decor: I might be a little biased here, but I’d have to sayThe Little Green Door I take home vintage pieces from the shop all the time because I can’t seem to part with them!🕯

Sources of Inspiration:Magazines, coffee table books, scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest, nature, textiles, art- everything is inspiration if you look hard enough! 

Favorite Quote: “Layer, layer, layer, and when in doubt, add another layer.” – Me, myself and I💕

Girls Night Outor Girls Night In:Do I have to choose?! I’m always down for a girl’s night! 

Best Party Theme:Oh, this is a tough one, because I’m always looking for an excuse to decorate and celebrate! I’ve made a habit of keeping up with national holidays for that very reason. Recently, I threw acards and caviar party with some of my girlfriends and that is one of my favorite party themes to date!♣️❤️

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would it be? Why?Oh man! I’d love to sit down with Iris Apfel and soak in all the fashion and décor tips, or even Ina Garten to learn some new recipes! They are both huge inspirations to me! I’m sure I’m forgetting like 30 people I would want to do dinner with but these two always come to mind. 

What is your favorite holiday to celebrate? I’d have to say Christmas for a number of reasons! I love that the festivities last an entire month and the magic feeling it brings!🎄

What is your favorite family tradition? Oh gosh, we have so many. Probably when our family hosts our favorite annual parties each year. 

From our annual Pizza party🍕, to our birthday week🧁-since Shawn and I have birthdays a few days apart ,to Oktoberfest🍻, and NYE at our house🍾. We always have a great gathering and they are spread out through the year to where we look forward to them. The guest lists keep growing and I love celebrating it all with friends and family. 

Also, each year for Christmas 🎄 we all add one ornament to the tree that has been “on brand” for each of us. For instance, this year Porter has been very into chicken nuggets and ranch dressing so that’s his ornament for the year. I love seeing our collection grow and can’t wait to see them 10 years from now.