Table Decor: The Perfect Table for the Holidays

As holiday season approaches, the dining table is getting an extra emphasis and a real opportunity to be a showstopper. Whether you’re gathering with just your household, adding a few family members, or hosting a big party, table decor is the perfect way to upgrade the evening!

a wood dining table is set with dark metal plates and silverware, linen napkins, and decorations of pine branches, ceramic houses, and wooden candlestick holders
Image via: Emily Henderson

There are thousands of directions you can take your table decor. Don’t feel worried about getting it “right” because generally there’s not a wrong way to do it! We’ll start with a couple things to keep in mind when creating your setup.

SPACING AND FLOW

  • Spacing – how many people comfortably fit at your table? Are you going to have to get a bit cozy for your gathering to all fit? Or will you have some extra space? Knowing this ahead of time will help you decide what kind of centerpiece to utilize. If you have extra room, you can add a few more layers with place settings and centerpieces. If you are squeezing a bit more, you know to go more minimal with the extras.
  • Flow – in terms of actual mealtime, are you going to have all the food available on the table throughout the meal? Or will you have it set up on a sideboard or in the kitchen for people to fill their plate and come back to the table? Again, this helps to understand spacing and how much decor you can use. You certainly want to avoid having to move all your decor off the table to eat, or tipping over things like candles during mealtime while reaching for the basket of bread!

COMMUNITY, COORDINATION, AND COLOR

  • Community – to put it simply, don’t make your decor so large that you wouldn’t be able to see the person sitting across from you. Blockage in the middle creates a closed off feeling and awkwardness, so keep it in mind when selecting taller decor. 
  • Coordinate – things don’t have to match, but you’ll want them to coordinate. Maybe you have two sets of dishes, but each is two plates short. Use them together to create enough settings for everyone that coordinates with each other. This adds some interest to the table.
  • Color – no matter what style you lean towards for your tablescapes, tie it all together with your color scheme. Setting this ahead of time will help guide all your tablescape decisions!

Once you know your spacing and how you want your meal to be facilitated logistically, we can get into the fun stuff about decor styles and dinnerware options. We’ll look at some tablescapes of different design styles to get some inspiration.

a light wood table is decorated with a white gauze table runner, candlesticks, and simple dark blue dinnerware with rose gold silverware
Image via: Greystone Table

MINIMAL TABLE DECOR

A minimal table for the holidays lets your table do the decor work for you. No need to bog down an already beautiful resin or gnarled wood tabletop with extra things like large placemats or foliage. Choose a set of coordinating dishes that accentuate the beauty of your table already, perhaps consider glass dinnerware! Then add a small centerpiece like thin candlesticks to up the elegance factor a bit without losing table space. 

NATURAL/RUSTIC

Bring the outdoors in with a table setting that includes natural elements like sprigs of evergreen for the centerpiece and wood slab chargers. Keep the color scheme to natural browns and greens and add pops of black to up the chic level. 

an aerial view of a white dining table set for Christmas dinner. Gold silverware and dinner plates are surrounded by red plaid napkins and runner, along with sprigs of greenery, red roses, and votive candles
Image via: To Have To Host

SEASONAL/HOLIDAY SPECIFIC

The great thing about a seasonal style table decor is you can keep it simple or go all in. Start with the colors that are matching the holiday you’re celebrating in the textiles and decor, and then decide if you want to go even more in with the dinnerware as well. If you plan on hosting a specific holiday dinner every year, consider investing in a set of themed dishes. 

TRADITIONAL TABLE DECOR

For a traditional holiday table, choose a streamlined table runner or use garlands and candles in the middle. Place full sets of dishes, extra forks and all on top of matching placemats or chargers, and be sure to include fabric dinner napkins. Simple color schemes reign supreme with this set up, and will usually match the holiday that’s being celebrated. 

a black dining table is set with black and gold dinnerware, gold silverware, and decorated in the middle with a large wooden bowl of flowers in various purples and pinks
Image via: Wedding Chicks

ALL OUT GLAM

For a more Gatsby-esque tablescape, opt for moody colors and metallic accents. Go full chrome, brass or mixed metals and layer layer layer. This style is great if you’re utilizing a sideboard or credenza in the dining room for storage of the food, so you have full tabletop room for all that glitz and decor!  

Table decor is really fun to put together and can be different every time and easily tweaked to fit any celebration. We hope you got some inspiration today and however you’re gathering for the holidays, stay safe and enjoy!

Love, HAVEN

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