Setting a Stylish Holiday Table

By Kate Riley October 27, 2011

G’day all!  I’m so excited about the Tablescape Link Party I announced yesterday, so I couldn’t wait to share some inspiring ideas with you!  Setting a table is so much fun, because the table is that place where people gather to do two of the very best things in life: eat and talk.  Eating and talking, talking and eating, really does it get much better than that?   I don’t think so.

I rounded up a bunch of inspiration for you and some tips for setting a stylish table with ideas for all of the upcoming holidays, so here we go!

Choose the Classics.  You can’t go wrong when you opt for the traditional palettes we associate with each holiday, whether it’s the warm amber hues of Thanksgiving, the blues and whites of Hanukkah, or the classic red and white of Christmas.

williams sonoma thanksgiving table

Williams Sonoma


hanukkah table

Martha Stewart


house to home red and white christmas

House to Home


twinkle light tablescape



Add Menus and/or Place Cards.  Everyone loves a menu card announcing the meal that’s to come, and appreciates the personalization of a table set with seasonal place cards.

thanksgiving place setting

Country Living; Martha Stewart


christmas menu

Hostess with the Mostest


Dine in the Great Outdoors.   Who says when the temperature drops all dining must take place indoors?  Don’t hesitate to set up and serve a meal outside when the view makes it worthy to linger, weather permitting.

country home outdoor table

source unknown


flannel blanket outdoor christmas table

Sweet Something Design


Think Unexpected.   When styling a holiday table there really are no rules, so ignore traditional palettes and get creative with unpredictable color. Style your holiday table with bold pink, blue, or even vivid violet and everyone will do a double take. 

pink table digsdigs



blue and white holiday table

source unknown


ultra violet christmas decor demon

Decor Demon


bhg blue and green holiday



Add Some Sparkle.  The holidays are always an excuse to bring a little bling to the table and a little glitz and sparkle will set the mood. 

merry and mod table

hostess with the mostest


gilded fruit bhg



style at home christmas table bling

Style at Home


Play with Natural Elements.   If sparkle isn’t your thing, go natural instead. Consider all those things in nature that are not only beautiful but often free, like leaves, acorns, branches, pinecones, greenery and found botanicals. 

leaf and acorn napkin ties

BH&G; Martha Stewart


stylizmo blog table setting



pops of red on table hwtm

hostess with the mostest


evergreen centerpiece bhg



Chair Flair.   The backs of your chairs are just one more place to add a decorative detail.  Boxwood swags, mini wreaths, or even ornaments tied up with string add one more layer to set the scene.

satin and pinecone swags



tieback end of chair bhg



heart grapevine wreath christmas table

House to Home


Keep It Simple. At the end of the day, the simplest tablescapes are just as stylish as the elaborate ones.  All it takes to pull of a great holiday table is a few springs of greenery and some colorful bulbs to set the mood.

rustic table christmas


  style at home christmas

Style at Home

An ornament on a plate and a napkin wrapped in Tiffany blue ribbon coupled with a tight floral arrangement complete this simple yet sophisticated setting. 

flowers and ornaments

hostess with the mostest


Float evergreen springs in champagne flutes for a simple yet stunning display. 

champagne flute vases sunset



Spray paint a pinecone in silver and embellish with greenery and ribbon on white dishes for an elegant touch. 

silver pinecone matthew mead

Matthew Mead, via HGTV


If you’ve ever wondered where everything goes when you’re setting the table, here’s a helpful diagram for all settings casual to formal. 

casual and formal table setting


I hope you’re inspired to join in on the fun and set a holiday table in your home for the Tablescape Link Party on November 30th that I announced yesterday.  All of the fall and winter holidays are included (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years…). 

Oh, and I’ve added more inspiration to my Tablescapes & Mantels collection on Pinterest, plus there’s plenty of ideas to be found in my Autumn Ideas and Christmas Ideas collections too. 





  1. The tablescapes are beautiful. Thanks for the dinnerware placement diagrams – always wondered about the different settings.

  2. Makes me want to hurry up, get the tufted headboard I’m making (thanks to your directions) off of the dining table, and get set up for a holiday dinner. Beautiful inspiration here today. I like the diagram also – so helpful.

  3. Thanks for a great post featuring holiday tables with such a great variety of ideas. I lost a lot, but not all, of my christmas decorations last year in a fire and I was uncertain about how much I wanted to replace and do this year, but these table ideas are great because we do eat daily and if you have a festive table for daily enjoyment, perhaps there doesn’t need to be that much else “holiday” in an adult only household for it not to feel so disconnected from the seasonal spirit. I feel inspired … thanks!

  4. To bad the contest isn’t this week. You should see the Spooktacular table setting I created on Monday.

    I will be putting on my thinking cap thought and hope to join in on the fun.

  5. Ooooo! So many stunning ideas here – thanks so much for the inspiration!

    I’m especially digging the chair embellishments – I think I’ll add that one to my Christmas decor this year!

    Take care,

  6. These are beautiful tables! I love all the silver and white ones for Christmas! That diagram showing the ways to set the table is interesting and helpful. That formal one looks a little intimidating- I can’t imagine giving everyone at the table 4 different cups!!

  7. Oh the Eye Candy Kate!!! :D Thanks for sharing such awesome inspiration. I can’t wait to get started on my Christmas Tablescape in a few weeks. I can’t believe Christmas is less then 2 months away. But this is really inspiring me to think about what I want to do now, so I can finish before Nov. 30th. ;)

  8. Wow! Thank you for all the elegant and whimsical photographs! I appreciate all of your helpful advice! I think I am going to give it a whirl! What a cool post!

  9. Thank you for the table setting diagrams! I printed it out and will keep it in the box of silverware I just found in an antique store in Sebastapol. The rustic table with the modern white chairs is to die for!

  10. this post is full of wonderful ideas! thanks for the roundup. Makes you all warm and fuzzy inside for the holidays to come!

  11. Great tips! When I got married, my grandmother (an AF Colonel’s wife) gave me a little booklet with all kinds of diagrams on place settings, which I thought was awesome. There are so many neat ideas here to try out. :)

  12. Here’s a little trick I taught my kids: The word “left” has four letters, as does the word “fork.” The word “right” has five letters as does the word “knife” and the word “spoon.” After that, there were never any questions. Now where does the “spork” go?

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