How to Set the Perfect Holiday Table

It is officially the holiday season, and that means spending time with family and friends. I love hosting dinner, and a meal together with the people you love is extra special during this time of year. Every time I have people over for a dinner party, I like to set the table a little more elegant than I normally would and channel some creativity with a fun tablescape. It’s a good excuse to use nice plates, greenery, and fancy candles, and you’ll be able to not only impress your guests but set the mood for a great night. In today’s post I’m sharing my tips and decorating ideas on how to set the perfect holiday table.

A special thanks to MacKenzie-Childs for sponsoring this post. (You can shop my MacKenzie-Childs table décor below, and they provided a special discount for CBC readers! Receive 20% off site wide now through 12/15 with code CAMILLE20.)

How To Set The Perfect Holiday Table

How to Set the Perfect Holiday Table
How to Set the Perfect Holiday Table
MacKenzie-Childs plates

Choose a theme or color palette

Before you even begin setting the perfect holiday table, you should choose a theme or color palette. Having with a clear aesthetic in mind will help provide a filter of what will or won’t make it onto your table, and what you may need to purchase to complete your desired holiday or Christmas table setting. Knowing what won’t go on your table will also help you avoid overspending on things you won’t use.

Our home has a lot of white, gray, and brown tones. I wanted to keep these general colors while also amplifying my dining room table to feel special. For my table, I decided to go with gray, black and white, with a pop of greenery thanks to the garland. I always gravitate toward these colors for the holidays; it’s definitely not as traditional as red and green, but reminds me of a snowy day and works with my existing decor.

Choosing a color palette for your holiday table doesn’t need to be complicated. When I decorate a table for the holidays, I either choose one single color or three main colors, then sprinkle in some metallic accents to make things feel festive.

Inventory items you already own

You don’t have to run out and buy all new items for a perfect holiday table. Take inventory of the items you already own so that you can establish what you may need to purchase and what you can incorporate.

My wine glasses, tumblers, and gray checkered chargers and checkered appetizer plates are new, but I layered in them in with items I already owned: the tablecloth, cloth napkins, silverware, and basic white dinner plates

Save 20% at MacKenzie-Childs with code CAMILLE20

If you wanted, you could also inventory your items first, then let that guide your color palette. For example, if you really dislike mixing silver and gold and you already own gold flatware, then you probably don’t want to have a silver themed holiday dinner table. Instead, utilize your gold flatware, and create a holiday dinner table with gold. (I personally love mixing the two metallics and so this is a non-issue for me.)

Upgrade your napkins

I used a tablecloth for my holiday dinner setup because we have a glass table that shows every fingerprint, and when hosting the glass gets dirty quickly. While using a tablecloth isn’t necessarily a must-do when setting the perfect holiday table, using cloth napkins is.

Cloth napkins are an easy and affordable way to elevate your dinner table. You don’t even have to fold your cloth napkins fancy; simply fold them like a kitchen towel and place them. on or under a plate like I did. 

Steam your linens

For any linens that go on your table, make sure you give them a quick steam to get rid of the wrinkles. If you’re going through the trouble of decorating a beautiful table for Christmas dinner or a fabulous holiday party, take the extra 10 minutes to steam your linens.

If possible, steam the tablecloth right before you place it on the table. Otherwise, you can drape it over a pants hanger and get rid of any last-minute wrinkles before you need it. I have this clothing steamer in our laundry room and it works quickly, even on thicker fabric.

MacKenzie-Childs dinnerware

MacKenzie-Childs checked deer

Set Up Your centerpiece

The center of the table is the focal point of any holiday table setting. 

Make sure to keep any decorations or flowers low so that your guests can pass plates easily and see each other as they chat. 

I chose these beautiful, checkered deer to anchor the center of my table, then worked around them by adding in cypress garland and little accents.

I usually default to white flowers or greenery, like eucalyptus, for my centerpieces. Both are affordable, easy to find in grocery stores, and always look elegant. During the holidays, Trader’s Joe’s sells fresh garland than you can drape, fold, or cut into a simple centerpiece for your perfect holiday table.

I took some checkered ribbon and wrapped it around my garland to provide a little more dimension, then popped in some glittery ornaments for added sparkle.

If you’re looking to create a floral arrangement with grocery flowers like a pro, read this post.

Incorporate fun dinnerware

As much of a minimalist as I am when it comes to home décor, I always give a big yes when it comes to fun dinnerware for special occasions. 

Plain, everyday white dishes are SO easy to jazz up with a few accents.

MacKenzie-Childs is known for their signature black and white check print, but these hand-painted Sterling Check chargers and Sterling Check appetizer plates spoke to me the most to keep my holiday table light and airy. 

Save 20% at MacKenzie-Childs with code CAMILLE20

I was tired of my plain glasses, so I upgraded them with these Tango water tumblers and Sterling Check wine glasses. These glasses are also hand-painted and I really feel like they elevated my table settings. Even my husband Matt commented how nice (and cute) they were to drink from!

Think in layers

The art to setting a perfect holiday table is to think in layers. This gives the visual effect of an abundant table, even if you haven’t added the food yet.

For each individual place setting, really think about your layers. For my table, each place setting consists of six layers:

Even my centerpiece is layered when you dissect it. I started with the MacKenzie-Childs checkered deer, then added fresh garland, ribbon, and ornaments into the mix, all which provided color, dimension, and texture. 

How to Set the Perfect Holiday Table

Don’t forget candles

Finally, don’t forget candles! Candles have a unique way of always setting the mood and making things feel special.

How gorgeous are these glitter Christmas tree candles? They really add something special to my holiday table and the glitter looks like freshly fallen snow.

In my opinion, the limit does not exist on candles, and the more the merrier. If I really wanted, I could even add some votive candles and candle holders to really make my table feel cozy.

Holiday Table Decorations

Want to shop my holiday table? Here’s everything I could link! Save 20% at MacKenzie-Childs with code CAMILLE20.

Black and white beaded placemats
Sterling Check charger accent plates
Sterling Check appetizer plates
Sterling Check wine glass
Tango striped glass tumblers
Standing checkered deer
Sitting checkered deer
Christmas tree candles
Tall gold ball candle holder
Short gold ball candle holder
Glass glitter ornaments
Black and white checkered ribbon
White everyday dinner plates
Tan linen napkins (similar here)
Silver flatware

Setting the perfect holiday table doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here’s a quick recap if you’re in a hurry: pick a simple color palette, focus on what you already own and want to use, then invest in a few fun accents like festive plates and glasses. Don’t forget your centerpiece and candles! If all else fails, use white flowers or greenery. When setting your perfect holiday table, think and work in layers, especially with your place settings.

I’m all about investing in timeless pieces for both my closet and my home. These checkered items from MacKenzie-Childs inject a special touch to my table, and because they’re a classic print, I know I won’t get sick of them next year.


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Hi, I'm Camille! I'm a bi-coastal blogger splitting my time between LA and NYC and sharing elevated, yet relatable ideas so that you can achieve your most stylish life.

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