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Ho, Ho, Ho! How to Set the Perfect Christmas Table Setting

Ho, Ho, Ho! How to Set the Perfect Christmas Table Setting

'Tis the season to deck your halls and tables for the holidays! After all, there's a reason every great holiday movie features a gorgeous Christmas table setting that sparkles and shines as everyone sits down together to enjoy Christmas dinner!

The holiday season is all about holiday food, love, family, and appreciating all the wonderful things we have in our lives. Holidays are also a great reason to bring out your fanciest dishes and linens to create a scene worthy of your favorite Christmas movies. But, if you're hosting Christmas dinner for the first time, Christmas dinner table settings can seem overwhelming!

Even if you simply want to elevate your current spread or you want to surprise your family with a gorgeous table this winter, this article is a must-read! We’ll talk about the effect table decor can have during the holidays, share our top table decor tips, and go over tips on how to set a traditional, rustic and glamorous Christmas table setting.

Why are Christmas Table Settings Important?

For some families, the holidays may be the only time everyone is able to get together and enjoy a family meal. Because of this, it’s truly a special event that deserves to be celebrated uniquely! When you take the time to decorate your table, it helps enhance the rest of the home decor creating a magical Christmas atmosphere for everyone who is home for the holidays!

But decorating your table doesn’t need to be expensive or extravagant to be memorable. In fact, some of the most beautiful Christmas table decorations focus on heirlooms from beloved family members or decor you've made yourself, what matters is the memories you make along the way!

However, if you decide to decorate, the focus should be on family and the holiday spirit, with plenty of room to enjoy each other's company and make new memories.

An intimate gathering over a beautifully setup Christmas table.

#1 Tip for Perfect Holiday Table Settings: Layers

Just like layering our clothes during winter, effectively layering your table setting will help bundle up your table creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Each layer of different linen materials, dinnerware colors, and large or small accent decor will help add depth and texture to your display.

Christmas table with a ginger bread house centerpiece.
Christmas Table in rustic white and gold combination.
Christmas Table in modern black theme.

Best of all, you can use multipurpose items so you can enjoy these items year after year and holiday after holiday. With practice, you’ll soon create a gorgeous holiday table your family and friends will look forward to every year.

So, let's talk about how to layer tablescapes! 

The Base Layer: This is the fundamental layer that consists of a tablecloth, table runner, and placemats or charger plates. Set the tone of the theme by displaying a beautiful tabletop for a casual holiday dinner or dress it up with a seasonal print tablecloth. Table runners and charger plates or placemats will help create a focal point for centerpieces and distinguish where each place setting will be.

Tip: Create contrast by using a neutral tablecloth along with a print table runner or charger plate and vice versa.

Christmas table featuring red table napkin on a white plate.

The Essentials Layer: This layer focuses on elements that every meal needs such as dishware, flatware, drinkware, and napkins. Because these are essential items, knowing how to set the table correctly for basic, casual, and formal events will help avoid dish clutter, make the dinner run smoothly, and take your table setting to the next level effortlessly!

Tip: Add additional interest to each place setting by stacking plates in different colors and using different glassware for each type of drink that will be served.

Seasonal Accent Layer: Now it’s time to add the finishing touches! Napkin rings are an affordable and quick way to elevate the overall look of the tabletop. Personalize each setting with handwritten name cards on pine cones. Add a warm aspect with the flickering glow from LED candles and don't forget a seasonal floral centerpiece to really pull everything together!

Personalized Christmas table setup with red and green theme.
Fancy table napkin fold on a Christmas table setup.
Christmas Table with fancy table napkin folding.

Last but not least, don't forget to incorporate decor into your chairs. If you are not crazy about your current dining room chairs, elevate them with chair covers, sashes, caps, or DIY decor. Decorating your chairs will help your dining area feel more elegant and beautiful as everyone takes their seat. 

Tip: Adding a napkin in a fancy napkin fold like a Christmas tree, poinsettia, or an elegant Christmas bow is a great way to add a decorative yet functional accent!

Tablescape Ideas for the Holidays

Now that you know the key layers for a beautiful Christmas table setting, how do you decide on the right theme for your table? Everyone will have a particular aesthetic or Christmas theme that appeals to them, but these three Christmas table setting ideas can help you get started!

Traditional Christmas Tablescape

You can't think of Christmas without thinking of red and green decor! From the fresh Christmas tree with red ornaments and tinsel, to mistletoe and poinsettias, these two complementary colors are found all around during Christmas time. 

One of the most popular ways to achieve a traditional Christmas tablescape is by using red and green plaid linens. The woven pattern brings about a homey feeling that can be dressed up or down to match any style. Use a plaid runner to draw focus to the Christmas centerpieces on the table or add plaid napkins to accentuate the dinnerware.

Traditional Christmas table setup.
Table runners on a Christmas table setup should complement other Christmas table elements.
Classic Christmas table setup in red and green theme.

Another great option for a green and red table setting is to use separate hints of greens and red through the tablescape. Place red napkins over white plates alongside gold cutlery and define the table with a green table runner over a red tablecloth. To add dimension to the table with a mixture of true red, apple red, and burgundy shades paired with emerald green, sage, and willow greens. 

Complete the look with sparkling gold accents, and seasonal decors like Christmas ornaments, pinecones, and pine garlands as centerpieces.  Fold the napkins into bows or decorate them with a stick of cinnamon, rosemary sprig, or make a name card holder made from candy canes!

Rustic Christmas Tablescape

A rustic holiday tablescape is perfect to use unexpected color combinations as well as create a minimalist yet chic display that lets you bring the outdoors in!

You can go for a farmhouse style with white and black gingham linens or use red and black buffalo check for a more traditional Christmas look, better yet mix both prints for a truly chic design. Of course, it can't be rustic without the help of burlap or wood accessories.

Gingham linen placemat for a rustic Christmas table setup.
Christmas table in burlap table runner.
Wood elements are popular in rustic-themed Christmas themes.

Layer the center of the table with a burlap runner and centerpieces made from burlap wrapped mason jars. Wood slabs are a great multipurpose item to use as charger plates or centerpieces stands. To take your place settings to new heights, add an antique brush charger plate over a wood slice, this unexpected style will add height and texture to the table. 

But simply because you’re going for rustic, it does mean all the decor has to be. Bundle up your finest silverware using twine, ribbon, or braided burlap napkin rings. Keep things natural and budget-friendly by using pine cones, tree twigs alongside a pine garland table runner. With so many natural elements it may feel like you are out in the woods, so be sure to add warmth to the table with soothing candles!

Glam Christmas Dinner

Creating a glamorous Christmas tablescape that shines as much as the star on top of your Christmas tree is easier than you think! Since glam tablescapes are meant to shine on their own, what better way than to do so by choosing sequins, metallic golds, reflective silver, and crystal elements!

Glamorous Christmas table setup.
Glam Christmas table setup in blue and gold theme.
Gold, silver, and glass elements are perfect for glam Christmas tables.

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Add mini Christmas trees over a white faux fur runner to mimic wintery scenery. Choose bright white linens, silver utensil, and sparkling napkins to hint at Jack Frost nipping at your nose. For a truly glamorous setting choose glass charger plates in silver or gold alongside crystal drinkware to get the most significant impact.  

For a modern take on glam Christmas table setting, use a mixture of black, white, and gold with other bold alternatives to show your style and keep items in use year-round. Better yet, this color scheme can easily be carried through the end of December  for a New Year celebration!

Where to Start

Are you ready to start planning for your holiday tablescape? The holidays are a special time, and everyone always looks forward to decorating and getting together each year. The best way to have a wonderful holiday feast to plan ahead!

Deciding on a theme early in the season will allow you plenty of time to ease into your Christmas table settings so you can enjoy the process rather than worry and rush about getting it all done in time! After all, your dining table will play a significant role in the overall atmosphere of your holiday events, and the leading player will be your table settings and decor. The memories made at your table will carry with your guests year after year and become a point of nostalgia!

This festive season is all about getting together with your loved ones and making the best of every moment you have together. Christmas only comes once a year, so make the most of it each winter!

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