How to Set Your Holiday Tablescape

Create a festive tablescape from on-hand items for your family's Christmas and New Year's gatherings.

How to Set Your Holiday Table

How to Set Your Holiday Table

Try topping a stand with shiny fruit, or fill a bowl with glowing ornaments.

How to Set Your Holiday Table

How to Set Your Holiday Table

Wrapped gifts and candies add festive touches.

How to Set Your Holiday TableHow to Set Your Holiday Table


It’s fun to decorate for the holidays, especially when you’re creating a gorgeous tablescape for a party. “Tablescape” is a relatively new term in interior decorating, and it’s just what it sounds like—a landscape for your table.

Happily, the most memorable ones aren’t formal, pricey ones like those in designer layouts. I suggest taking advantage of wonderful items you have on hand, and then get creative and experiment with them.

So get ready to build a tabletop masterpiece. Anything that glimmers or shines—now’s the time to pull it out. That goes for anything that’s precious to you, too.

Then have fun and be adventurous! Use my ideas at right to help you think out of the box.

1. Choose Your Linens.

Pretty linens are a good starting place—their colors give you a framework. Mix, match and think opulent. My table’s dressed for a fun, modern family dinner (above), and it plays on traditional Christmas red and green. I’ve pulled in lime and other “spring-ish” colors to enliven it.

You could get the same effect with hot pink or burgundy. Or add gold, silver, copper—any kind of metallic works for the holidays—to red and green.

2. Look to Tableware.

Again, mix and match, keeping in mind your reds and greens. Try metallic charger plates with your fine china, and a dessert plate in a funky color. Look at antique pieces, good china and everyday dishes to see what works.

3. Vary Heights of Serving Pieces.

Nothing’s more important! Different levels add visual interest, but you don’t need to buy special stands.

Normally, I add height by putting boxes and pots under the tablecloth, but not this time of year! You can wrap boxes in holiday paper—small patterns work best—and put them front and center. (You can even put party favors or other gifts inside, if you like.)

4. Add Visual Punch.

There are fun possibilities here. Consider:

Fresh flowers. They don’t have to be expensive, especially if you skip the reds, whites and greens. (I find pink works well with seasonal decor.)

Beautiful amaryllis and paper white narcissus blooms. Plan ahead—start them from bulbs 4 to 6 weeks earlier. Buy bulbs at your home improvement store.

Dried hydrangeas. Spray-paint rich, metallic gold for an unusual look.

Gilded gourds. Metallic gold spray-paint extends the life of leftover fall pumpkins and gourds.

Branches. Placed in a vase, they can hold favorite ornaments for a real “wow” effect. Keep them natural, or spray-paint a metallic color.

Fragrant boughs. Clip fresh evergreen, boxwood or cedar.

Candles. Use various heights and thicknesses, within your colors.

Gleaming pears, apples or pomegranates. They add lush, edible appeal, as do mixed nuts.

Once you start, you’ll look at everyday objects with new eyes. And your tablescape will be a personal reflection of the season’s color and excitement.


About our Expert: Tracey E. Schabel has more than 15 years experience as an interior decorator and floral designer. She specializes in room refinements, seasonal decor, custom floral arrangements and, with her experience as a licensed Realtor, real estate staging.

Ramah Meeks 1 November 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Enjoying all the festive idea’s for our Christmas this year..esp. the Decorating! And, My Grandchildren and I are having a great time make most of our gifts this year!


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