Holiday Table Setting Ideas + Decoration Guide

Blog Post

If you’re hosting a festive holiday dinner for family or close friends, you’ll want your table settings to showcase the time and effort that you’ve put into making the meal so special. From magical centerpieces to elegant place settings, we’ll help you find the perfect holiday inspiration with the examples and guide below.

How to Set a Holiday Table

  1. Choose a Theme. Pick a holiday theme to center your table decorations around. This can include things like “winter wonderland,” “The Nutcracker,” or “a white Christmas.”
  2. Plan Around the Meal. Make sure you consider your meal while planning the decorations, as you don’t want to overcrowd your dinner. If your meal will take up a large portion of the tablespace, consider a more simple and elegant decoration scheme to keep the focus on the incredible meal you’ve created.
  3. Stick to a Color Scheme. Too many colors or thematic elements can crowd your table. Keep things simple by determining your color scheme and sticking to it throughout your meal.
  4. Pick a Strategic Centerpiece. An effective table centerpiece doesn’t just tie together your theme: it also acts as a conversation starter. It’s also important that this centerpiece doesn’t block guests from talking to each other or give off too powerful of a scent (flower arrangements and candles).
  5. Understand Place Setting Etiquette. Follow the steps below to make sure you follow proper table setting etiquette.
    • Lay out your placemats, making sure they’re evenly spaced, straight, and not wrinkled.
    • Set the dinner plate in the center of the table setting.
    • Place the fork to the left of the plate.
    • Place the knife to the right of the dinner plate and then set the spoon to the right of the knife.
    • Set the water glass in the top right corner, above the knife.
    • The napkin can be placed on top of the dinner plate or beneath the fork. If your napkins need it, make sure to iron them prior to the meal.

Holiday Table Centerpiece Ideas

Picking the right table centerpiece for your holiday dinner depends on your theme and table size. Best practices for table centerpieces say that you should keep your centerpiece small enough that it doesn’t disrupt the conversation (you can’t see the person directly across the table from you) and that it doubles as a conversation starter. Here are a couple examples of holiday table centerpieces:

Holiday Place Setting Ideas

Your holiday place settings are arguably the most important elements of your table decorations. While choosing place-setting pieces that match your theme make sure you check everything off the list so that no guests are left without a napkin or dining utensil. Make sure your place settings include:

  • Table linen (optional, depending on theme)
  • Dinner plate
  • Salad plate (optional)
  • Fork(s)
  • Knife
  • Spoon (optional)
  • A wine glass or other drink glass
  • Water glass
  • Napkin
  • Name card (optional)

Once put together, your holiday place setting should look something like this:

Thanksgiving Table Decor Ideas

Looking to find the perfect Thanksgiving decoration inspiration? First, consider your color palette. The Traditional Thanksgiving Color Scheme palette has 6 colors which are Coconut (light brown), Orange-Yellow, Vivid Tangelo (dark orange), Vivid Auburn (red), Palm Leaf (green), and Bistre (black-brown). We’ve collected a few ideas following this color scheme that are perfect for any dinner spent with loved ones.

How to Choose Christmas Table Decorations

Looking for some Christmas specific elements to add to your Holiday table? Keep in mind you can carry out your theme in multiple ways:

  • Stunning centerpieces
  • Christmas place settings
  • Floral arrangements
  • Table runners
  • Christmas china
  • Christmas crackers
  • Name cards
  • Napkins
  • Candleholders
  • Silverware

Consider your theme and stick to simplified, Christmas-inspired elements that won’t crowd your table. For example, look to the ideas below:

How to Display Table Wine

If you’re planning to enjoy wine at your holiday dinner, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. First, if you’re serving a “closed” or “shy” wine, open and decant this wine prior to serving. Make sure to read our post on how to double decant wine if you’re planning to serve an especially “closed” or special wine at the dinner. Additionally, avoid broken corks and serving errors by understanding the different types of wine openers and how to use them.

Elegant Holiday Table Setting Ideas

Looking for a little more holiday table inspiration? Look to our samples below or follow our Holiday Table Pinterest board for more.


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