10 Holiday Table Settings Perfect for Any Celebration
As many of us open our doors to share holiday meals or year-end glasses of bubbly, we yearn to dazzle guests with elegant décor—as long as it doesn't require a great deal of fuss. But even for the time-strapped, a refreshingly beautiful table can be achieved without relying on the usual evergreen boughs, wooden dreidels, and New Year's confetti. Instead, these settings borrow candy canes' iconic red stripes, put a metallic spin on nature, and pay homage to seasonal citrus.
One approach? Instead of thinking of the dinner table as the setting for the entire meal, decorate a few side tables with eye-catching floral arrangements or shiny-bright centerpieces; you could also pile your homemade sweets in a lush dessert buffet over a long sideboard. Guests will be able to admire your pie before they even begin the meal. If they've brought any desserts, you can set them up on the buffet so that their dishes can be shown off, too. That will look much more impressive and rewarding than just putting them on the kitchen counter until it's time to serve. You also create a better flow through the evening as you gently guide your guests from the table to the living area for party games and activities, and you'll be able to enjoy the pie better instead of focusing on clearing dinner plates and switching over to dessert plates.
Best of all, each tableau can be created in as little time as it takes to chill a bottle of Champagne. That's reason enough to say "Cheers."
Gold and Brass Table Setting
Eye-catching but decidedly elegant, the soft warmth of gold and brass paired with the coolness of silver creates a sophisticated holiday palette. A flower arrangement of gold and mauve roses, starflower-scabiosa seed heads, and silvery begonia leaves unifies a table set with a combination of gold-toned flatware and galvanized-metal accents. Yardage of netted cloth acts as an inexpensive, no-sew runner.
Metallic Silver Table Setting
As if out of thin air, candleholders appear where balloons used to be. The trick: Blow the balloons up, then brush on a glittery glue mixture. Once it dries, pop and discard the balloons—leaving behind shells you can paint on the inside. They make dazzling centerpieces, especially when clustered with glitter-dusted pillar candles (use a coat of transfer adhesive) and paired with silver dip-dyed linens.
Snow-Globe Table Setting
To create a soft glow—especially desirable around the dining table—we put LED votives inside these "snow globes," which are white pendant light fixtures, in three sizes, that we covered with clear shard glitter. (Each rests on a biscuit cutter.) White ball candles echo the motif, while flocked branches of juniper and pine add height, texture, and color to the wintry display. To make one, place a globe—6, 8, or 10 inches in size—shade on tray. Using a foam brush, cover half of globe with glitter glue, then sprinkle with glitter; repeat on second half. Let dry for an hour. Repeat this step; let dry for another hour. Using paintbrush, brush off excess glitter. In a well-ventilated area, spray a biscuit cutter (3 1/2 or 4 ½ inches) with spray paint, if desired. Let dry for 2 hours. Place LED candle in the center of biscuit cutter, with globe on top (10- and 8-inch globes on 4 1/2-inch cutters, 6-inch globes on 3 1/2-inch cutters).
Soft and Sparkling Table Setting
Glints of gold and silver play off soft pinks and yellows at this inviting table. Positioned on and around the mantel, arrangements of carnations, mums, scabiosa seed heads, and grasses bring natural beauty to the setting—without crowding the table.
Rich Jewel-Toned Table Setting
During the holidays, a basic table allows the focus to be on what’s really important: the food and the company. A pearl-gray plate and just one fork and knife (culled from flea markets) per seat keep place settings relaxed. Bring together humble, natural materials and textures at the table: burlap for place mats, a leather tie for the carafe, and blockprinted napkins. Candles are the go-to when it comes to centerpieces.
Merry Red Table Setting
Usher in the season with pops of scarlet. Even the smallest dollops of red (in this instance, a few ranunculus, miniature roses, and parrot tulips) will stand out when set against ivory walls, pale wood, white china, and silvery ornaments. Gray-green eucalyptus pods and pine needles create a muted backdrop for the centerpiece. Put beautiful red flowers front and center for the holidays, and you won't need much else to get your home in the spirit of the season.
Gilded Table Setting
The inspiration for this lavish, glinting table comes from Russia, with love. Paper lanterns are spray-painted gold to resemble the gilded onion domes of the Kremlin, and votive candleholders are wrapped in ornate papers, calling to mind walls of icons. Much of the glitz and glamour comes from nothing more than embossed wallpaper, spray paint, craft punches, and paper lanterns—so you can toast to the year's riches without spending a lot.
Glittering Snowflake Table Setting
Kevin Sharkey makes show-stopping centerpieces and other festive decorations that will last all season. Arranged runner-style on his dark dining room table set with glass dishes, the intricately patterned pieces lose all trace of dowdiness. Look for a variety of sizes and patterns, and glitter them in different metallic shades for the best results. To do this, spray the doilies with spray starch and press with an iron, stiffening the doilies. Set the doilies on kraft paper, and spray with adhesive, then spoon glitter all over it, making sure the entire surface is covered. Flip doilies over; repeat on the other side. Arrange doilies on the table, beginning in the middle with the largest doily and alternating sizes and colors out to either end.
Glittered Faux Fruit Table Setting
A brightly hued citrus centerpiece, piled high with velvet leaves and silver balls, brings sophisticated cheer to New Year's Eve. The faux lemons covered with glitter are for display only, but lemon-drop candies, are arranged in personalized baskets atop each plate as a sweet start to the new year.
Amaryllis Table Setting
Set a minimalist table with formal tableware and a simple color palette. Then, with the help of these candle and flower centerpieces, the whole table will shine. For each one, use candle wax to attach a small floral frog to the center of a shallow bowl. Push a taper into the floral frog to secure. Pour water into the bowl. Clip amaryllis blooms (or other large flowers) from their stems, and arrange them in the bowl around the candle.