Even though your holiday gatherings will likely be smaller and more intimate this season, putting effort into the decor and ambiance is still important. In fact, some might argue that creating a festive space is more important than ever for both you and your guests, as it will help make the holidays feel more like, well, the holidays. One simple way to do so is with a beautiful table setting, something everyone can take delight in while enjoying dinner.
Intimate dinners with much smaller headcounts of immediate family members and close friends are the norm this year, says Eddie Zaratsian, an event designer and founder of Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle & Design. “So I find it's especially important that your holiday tablescapes bring a certain warmth and coziness to your guests. Those that are carefully planning small gatherings will want to make their loved ones feel safe and comfortable.”
Whether you’re putting on a “party for two,” having a close family gathering, or hosting a scaled-down dinner party, follow these expert tips for elevating your holiday table setting.
Make It Glow
Few things are cozier come winter than a rolling fire and/or candlelight glow. It puts everyone in an easy, laid-back mood and provides the perfect amount of ambient light. “My favorite setup with a tablescape is to layer varying colors, scents, and heights of candles that all complement one another,” says Zaratsian. “In leaning towards a more vintage feel, consider opting for a candelabra as a centerpiece, or mixing metallics with a selection of candlestick holders or tealight glasses.” If you do have the option, make use of an indoor or outdoor fireplace.
Add Personal Touches
It doesn’t matter how small the headcount, everyone feels extra special when their seat has a place card. Think about the general décor scheme of your table setting and then lean into it. For example, wood rounds with handwritten names lend themselves to an earthy, rustic vibe (we like these from Etsy seller EugenieDesigns), while painted ornaments add festive flare and make for a fun DIY project. Another fuss-free option is to order laser-cut names, like these from Etsy seller EngraveCelebration.
Incorporate Different Textures
A quick way to add beautiful dimension to your holiday table setting is to layer in different textures. You can do so through fabrics, metals, and finishes. “When thinking of textures, it's always best to start with table runners or linens and work your way up. For example, the holidays are the perfect time to opt for flannel, knit or even velvet fabrics as the base for your décor,” suggests Zaratsian. “From there, you can incorporate vases of varying heights and sizes, as well as some natural details like pinecones, miniature frosted trees or a subtle dusting of faux snow.”
Use Festive Florals
You’ve got candles for glow and texture for a bit of depth—now you just need a floral arrangement to add color. Whether you’re aiming for bright and bold or something more subtle, a little greenery can really wow. “I personally love the look of gradient colorways, particularly ranging from blush to crimson red to berry," Zaratsian says. "Not only do these shades look timeless and versatile with your table setup, they also weave in effortlessly with your flower choices.”
Think roses, anemones, and ranunculus, which are breathtaking options that look stunning when coupled with hues such as silver and gold or lean more rustic when combined with wood or charcoal. Even a few strands of eucalyptus woven down the center of the table can add the perfect finishing touch for a seasonal table setting.
Channel Your Favorite Restaurant
If you are still unsure where to start when creating a holiday table setting, garner a bit of inspiration from your favorite local eatery. “Select a few key elements that stand out about the restaurant’s design. Add a white tablecloth and twinkling tea lights or use linen napkins and a small bud vase with in-season florals,” suggests Kelli Lamb, editorial director at Rue Magazine. “Be sure to transfer the food to serving platters or take the extra effort to ‘plate’ it the same way the restaurant would.”
Bonus points for curating a special playlist for the evening!
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