A Bright and Festive Christmas Luncheon

Glean inspiration for your next holiday gathering from this festive luncheon hosted by interior designer Marjorie Johnston in Birmingham, Alabama
Skylands main terrace, summer home of Martha Stewart

A slipcovered linen banquette accented with a plush velvet pillow complements a set of four painted dining chairs upholstered in a geometric print.

When planning a Christmas luncheon at her shop, JoJo Home in Birmingham, Alabama, Marjorie Johnston didn’t need to search long for inspiration. “We set the table using fabrics and furnishings from our inventory,” she explained. “The tablecloth—a Muriel Brandolini design with a metallic-gold floral motif—was the inspiration for the mix of china, crystal, and serving pieces.”

The dining table featured a masterful grouping of more contemporary elements such as the wooden charger plates and marble cheese board joined by formal china and elegant white linens trimmed and monogrammed in gold from Table Matters, one of the designer’s go-to shops.

Christmas luncheon table setting

A closer look at the glittering setting

Petite vintage bottlebrush trees and little houses from Marjorie’s personal collection added a charming, more humble note to the table sprinkled among the glittering pieces. “A lot of people have fine china they never use because it feels so formal, but if you mix it with more rustic pieces, you can create a whole new look,” said Marjorie’s daughter, Wendy Barze. “We had metallic elements throughout that tied this table setting together.”

A favorite beaded tabletop tree was reimagined for the centerpiece. “We hung ornaments on this tree last year, but for this lunch we wired in roses, pinecones, sprigs of rosemary, and greenery for a feminine look,” says Wendy. “The pinecones will last all season, and you can change out the flowers or other natural elements as you desire.”

Skylands main terrace, summer home of Martha Stewart

White roses, pinecones, and fresh greenery festoon a beaded tabletop tree.

The team, which also includes Marjorie’s associate Katherine Bramlett, created engaging vignettes with florals, wreaths, and other holiday accents on the bar and sideboard with a continuation of the rustic and refined mix. The varied floral arrangements included greenery gathered primarily from Wendy’s own garden and placed in an elegant, tall fluted urn next to a small bark container full of ‘Circus’ roses, white Oriental lilies, silver brunia berries, and poppy pods.

“When it comes to flower arranging, I find it’s easiest to start with a pretty assortment of fresh floral material, a friendly container, and water. It’s no fail if you keep it simple,” says Marjorie.

Skylands main terrace, summer home of Martha Stewart

The metallic-gold Nina Campbell wallpaper in JoJo Home naturally sets the stage for a Christmas occasion. by Jean Allsopp

Christmas floral arrangement

An arrangement of ‘Circus’ roses, white Oriental lilies, silver brunia berries, and poppy pods

The shop’s sparkling atmosphere even extended to the signature Champagne cocktail named “Winter’s Kiss.” Its ingredients were cleverly packaged as a holiday gift along with a recipe card that read “All is Bright”—a fitting phrase for this festive affair.
Skylands main terrace, summer home of Martha Stewart


Makes 1


    • 1 raw sugar cube
    • Rosé Champagne
    • 4 – 6 drops artisanal citrus bitters
    • Sprig of rosemary


    1. Put a sugar cube in a glass or Champagne flute.
    2. Add Champagne and bitters.
    3. Garnish with rosemary sprig and enjoy!
hostess gift idea



    • Cocktail napkins, personalized with each guest’s monogram
    • 187ml cans rosé Champagne (such as Francis Coppola Sofia Mini Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine – 4-Pack)
    • Raw sugar cubes
    • Bottles of artisanal citrus bitters (1 for each guest)
    • Rosemary sprigs
    • Strawberry baskets
    • Cellophane
    • Festive ribbon
    • Recipe cards for Winter’s Kiss (see recipe above)


    1. Nestle napkins, 1 can rosé Champagne, raw sugar cubes, 1 bottle citrus bitters, and rosemary springs in each basket.
    2. Wrap with cellophane, and tie with ribbon, attaching recipe card.
    3. Tuck a sprig of rosemary into each knot.

By Alice Welsh Doyle | Photography by Jean Allsopp

This story originally appeared in Flower magazine’s November/December 2016 issue. Subscribe, find a store near you, or sign up for our free e-newsletter.