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Gather ‘Round the Table for the Holidays

Make your home for the holidays a well-rounded experience. Photos: Better Homes & Gardens, Hooker Furniture.

As the holidays near, it’s time to decide how your home will look and function once family and friends step through the door. Seasonal decor  displayed in eye-catching ways always wows. However, the real secret to entertaining success lies beyond tinsel and twinkle lights. It’s about creating interiors that take the edge off in subliminal style.

Psychologists say that round shapes affect the subconscious in positives ways, especially in social settings by lowering anxiety and creating an atmosphere of relaxed informality. That’s why party planners prefer round dining tables. Guests seated at them naturally interact more because they’re facing one another and have closer eye contact.

Want to kick the holiday season off in style and inspire guests to relax, converse and linger with intent?  It’s time to gather ‘round…

At this table, you’ll dine decidedly fine. Photo: Hooker Furniture

With an opulent Epoque shimmer finish embellished with mirrored accents, the Sanctuary round table  taps into the holiday bling trend.  This is a luxe look that pumps the volume up.

Sometimes a little curve is just what a room needs. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.

With its slightly rounded silhouette, the Crawford sofa spins the trend in a subtle, sophisticated, way.

For couch potato entertaining, this table is practically perfect. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Crafted of exquisite white onyx and metal, the Melange Blythe cocktail table is a chic, yet sensible, pick with 40” round shelves that hold beverages, snacks and more in a space-saving, double-decker footprint.

Dressmaker details make this chair into a design delight. Photo: Hooker Furniture

The Hilton swivel club chair   has a rounded shape that wraps guests in a big hug of soft, supple leather. And because this chair swivels, it turns ‘round to wherever the conversation goes.

Invite a distinctly American point of view to the table this holiday. Photo: Hooker Furniture

With its dramatic pedestal base, dark charcoal finish, silver accenting and decorative nail trim, the Vintage West round dining table  captures the frontier spirit of the Old West in a rustic refined way. And this table makes it easy to expand your circle of guests because it extends to 74 inches when its leaf is in place.

The Gather Affinity Chair adds instant style in a subtle, sophisticated way. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Aptly named, the Affinity sling back dining chair  has a soft, rounded form that’s naturally at home in any room of the house—wherever extra seating is needed.

This table is easy to clean if guests spill drinks or food on it. Hooker Furniture

An industrial chic look with a riveted aluminum sheet top, the Boheme Lambik round end table is Belgian-inspired from its artistic shape and clever mix of textures to its sophisticated antique gray-white finish.

After one taste of this side dish, guests will ask for more. Photography credit: Erin Kunkel 2016 for ‘Against All Grain Celebrations,’ Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

When it’s time to turn your attention to menu planning, round yours out in a tasty new way.  “Smokey candied bacon sweet potatoes” by chef and New York times best-selling cookbook author Danielle Walker puts a new spin on a classic holiday side dish that’s both gluten-free and absolutely delish.

Smoky Candied Bacon Sweet Potatoes


Against All Grain Celebrations” by Danielle Walker

“The flavors of Fall come together in this dish of spiced roasted sweet potatoes with candied pecans and bacon.  I was never a fan of sweet potatoes, or yams, growing up, so I skipped the classic candied yams with marshmallow and sugar topping.  When I started eating Paleo and introduced them into my diet, I came up with ways to make them savory instead of sweet and enjoy them now. I often hear from anti-sweet potato folks that they love this dish!”

Serves 10 to 12

3 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled

6 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2  teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the sweet potatoes into even 1-inch cubes. Toss them with the bacon, pecans, maple syrup, chili powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne in a bowl. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Roast for 20 minutes. Stir and continue roasting for 15 minutes, or until tender. Turn the oven to broil and brown the potatoes for an additional 5 minutes. Watch the nuts closely and pull the baking sheets out early  if they begin to burn. Serve hot.

Make it ahead:

Combine all of the ingredients and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before cooking. Bring to room temperature, then bake as directed.


There’s always a lot of confusion surrounding yams and sweet potatoes. Either will work here, but I go for the orange-fleshed yam for this recipe to add some color to the dinner buffet.

Reprinted with permission from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion by Danielle Walker, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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