Make Your Holiday Table Setting Work for You: A Guide to Setting Your Holiday Table

Christmas is around the corner. Soon you will be welcoming people into your home to celebrate. Hosting for the holidays can be so exciting, but it can also be stressful. After all, you are trying to create a fabulous memorable event full of merriment. There are countless decisions to make. Creating a beautiful table scape can be daunting final task. So, whether you’re entertaining in person, or want a festive backdrop for your Zoom party, we can help you make your celebration feel special and look spectacular. Here is a guide, with a hacks and tips, to help you through all the decision making of setting your table.

Start With The Basics

Begin with setting your intention and deciding on a theme. What do I mean? Well, what is the feeling you want your guest to take away with them? Do you want your gathering to feel magical and full of whimsy or are you going for a more traditional theme? Don’t be afraid to be more abstract about your theme. You can make a theme around your favorite Christmas song or movie or even the uniqueness of a snowflake. Once you have your theme decided, you can now choose your colors you want to use. My rule of thumb when choosing colors is to have no more than three primary colors with two accent colors.

Placemats, Runners, and Tablecloths. Oh My!

Time to start dressing your table. Placemats, runners, and tablecloths add color, texture and can elevate your table. Try to shake things up a little. For instance, table runners are the full length of a dining table. So try to place many across the width of the table at each setting. You can also use layering to add some drama. Layer a couple of tablecloths on top of one another or try layering placemats or a runner on top of a tablecloth.

Table hack: Don’t have a placemats, runners or a tablecloth? No problem. Grab a curtain or even some scarfs to dress up your table.

Image Credit: Annie Schlechter

Time to Set Your Table

Your table setting sets the tone for your meal. Are you having a casual dinner with friends or are you busting out the fine china and silverware? How your place setting is set will let your guest know what to expect from your meal. A formal place setting is lavish. Casual place setting are much more laid-back, but still feel special for the occasion.

A casual setting includes a single wineglass and a water goblet, and only three utensils. Pro tip: Glasses are set up on the right and knives should face in toward the plate.

Image Credit: Real Simple

A formal setting is more comprehensive. This has both red and white wine glasses, a water goblet, flatware for each course, various plates, and a charger at each setting. Pro tip: Forks should be set in order of use, working from the outside in, and bread plate should be set up on the left.

Image Credit: Real Simple

Table hack: If you don’t have a charger for a formal setting, you can make one! Use a cake board and wrap in fabric or glue on some pizzazz using feathers, candy, leaves, or beads.


Whether you are using paper napkins or cloth ones, napkins can enhance the overlook of your table. You can add a bit of flair, a pop of color, and a design element with a unique fold.

Start by choosing your napkins. If your table is all solid colors, try a pattern. You can also use a solid color to add contrast to your table.

Image Credit: CozyLinen

Napkin ring add charm and create some dimension to your setting. You can also wrap your cutlery in napkin using a ribbon. Table hack: Don’t have napkin rings? Make your own! Check out our Pinterest for more ideas.

Image Credit: Celebrate Creativity

Get fancy with a unique napkin fold. Table hack: There are so many videos online to get ideas and to watch tutorials.

Image Credit: Anjelika Gretskaia 

Personalize It!

Personalizing your place setting will be sure to make your guest feel extra special. You can keep in simple and write their name on a small piece of card stock or use an extra holiday gift tag. Add a little boost by repurposing a small tile piece or a chalkboard. You can even use something more festive like a bell or ornament. If you are looking to knock their socks off, make a special holiday crackers, or write a personalized note. Table hack: Make your own place card holders with items in your house like cinnamon sticks or candy canes.

Centerpiece and Decor

Let’s be honest. The centerpiece is the real show stopper of your holiday table. There are so options. How do you know what to choose? Well, think back to the intention you set at the start. Do you want your guest to stay gathered around the table? Then comprise your centerpiece of different edible items. Are you looking to create an intimate setting? Use lots of candles and greenery. Do you want something to break the ice? Try a unique sculptor that is a conversation starter. I like to combine many items at different heights to add allure and dimension. (Pro tip: Don’t make your centerpiece too tall. You want your guest to be able to talk to the person across from them.) There are also so many great and easy DIY centerpieces you can make yourself. Check out our Pinterest to get inspired!

Most importantly, have fun! Happy Hosting!

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