Three ways to decorate your holiday table

You've trimmed the tree, festooned the windows and bushes with lights, hung up your stockings with care, and strategically positioned the mistletoe up high. But there's still one item waiting to be crossed off your Christmas prep checklist: Your holiday table.

Whether you plan to provide a festive feast on it or have it simply serve as a decorative focal point noticed by visitors, a handsomely appointed holiday table can make all the difference in December, the experts contend.

“Typically, the layout of a home has the table or dining room as a center of attention. Much like the centerpiece on a table, the table itself is the centerpiece of the house where everyone gathers when not in the kitchen, so it pays to make it visually awesome,” says Brian Worley, owner and creative director of B. Worley Productions, an Atlanta-headquartered event planning company.

Karen Crouse, a Napa, California-based vintner who often hosts elaborate gatherings for clients, says the large and flat dimensions of a family table provide an excellent platform for making a Yuletide statement.

“The dining table in particular is where stories are shared and memories are made,” says Crouse.

But simply plopping down a pot of Poinsettias, a couple of decorative candles, and ceramic snowman salt and pepper shakers atop your table isn't necessarily a good seasonal strategy. To create a more tasteful and impactful impression, the pros recommend adopting a carefully considered decorative scheme.

“It's important to plan properly because you want your table to reflect any guests you invite as well as the tone of the occasion. Plus, you want to think about the type of function you may be preparing for — is it a formal dinner or a more relaxed and casual occasion?” asks Brian Gluckstein, interior designer with Gluckstein Design Planning in Toronto.

Three popular adornment approaches for your holiday table are:

Earthy and casual

This aesthetic, also known as “casually rustic,” incorporates natural elements from the outdoors, including branches, fur, plaids and pine cones, in order to set a relaxed tone without too many synthetic frills. To accomplish this look, Crouse suggests using a farmhouse-style table, if possible, along with burlap or linen place mats, stone or pottery dishes, hobnail glassware, wood-handled flatware, and twine to tie a small ornament onto each place-setting napkin.

Worley advises using a table runner rather than a tablecloth if you plan to have an extensive centerpiece “so that you don't have to constantly take everything off the table to wash it.”

Sophisticated glam

Yearn for a more chic and stylish approach that spotlights shiny objects and brightens up your table? Sophisticated glam is just the ticket.

“To get a sophisticated and glamorous look for your table, use pieces like silver candlesticks, silver or glass chargers and embroidered napkins. Add sparkle with crystal place card holders, and decorate the table with glittering ornaments,” says Gluckstein. “A classic center floral arrangement would also work well here.”

Worley's version of this table would minimize color variety and instead emphasize white, ivory and champagne hues complemented by gold and silver metallic sheens.

“I would use lots of candles, both tapered and pillared in different heights within glass cylinders to reflect the light. Mix in inexpensive ornaments, and then pepper in some very nice, expensive ornaments that have detail and embellishments. Aim to keep it simple, yet styled and tailored,” notes Worley.

Mercury glass chargers with white dishes and silver, gold and white marbled napkins with red napkin rings deserve a place on this table, too, insists Crouse.


Christmas merrymaking isn't all about indulging adult preferences. If your home is host to young'uns, make them feel more welcome by creating a kid-themed seasonal table.

“Incorporate some of your children's favorite toys into the design of the table,” Worley suggests. “Use whimsical colors, and play up some decorations that evoke a youthful feel. Wrap some boxes with fun printed wrapping paper, and stack a few on your table with a stuffed animal resting against the box. Then, accent with a few ornaments that harmonize with the color scheme you're working with.”

Get the kids involved in the fun, as well.

“Have them make the place cards for everyone,” recommends Gluckstein. “Also, add oversized nutcrackers, use table linens in Christmas-themed colors and patterns, and finish the table with little twinkling low-voltage holiday lights mixed into garland that you can run down the table for a whimsical touch.”

Are you looking for a more chic and stylish approach for your holiday table that spotlights shiny objects and brightens up your dining room?
Are you preparing for a formal dinner or a more relaxed and casual affair?
There's no reason to stick with the traditional Christmas reds and greens. Use any color you'd like, or even get the kids involved.
Christmas table set for a holiday dinner party.
This Christmas table setting has a more glamorous look.
Are you preparing for a formal dinner or a more relaxed and casual affair?
Are you preparing for a formal dinner or a more relaxed and casual affair?
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