Festive Holiday Tables | Midwest Living

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Festive Holiday Tables

Add holiday cheer to Christmas meals with these quick and easy ideas for festive table place settings.
  • Natural chic

    Natural chic

    Silver and sparkles lend glam appeal to natural elements. Here, seasonal greenery tucked into a mercury glass votive holds a handmade place card—and doubles as a take-home gift for guests. Ferns, succulents and moss on the table look elegant on silver platters and glass cake stands.

  • Winter scene

    Winter scene

    Faux berry sprigs, spray-painted white branches and pinecones, and tiny cardinals create a red-and-white winter scene on your tabletop. 

  • Vintage glam

    Vintage glam

    A collection of vintage dishes, ornaments and bottle-brush trees makes a sweet holiday tabletop. Tucked between pink Depression glass plates, a vintage-style greeting, photocopied from a Christmas card, centers the table setting. A vintage brooch doubles as a napkin ring.

  • Golden glow

    Golden glow

    When you want to dazzle your guests, bring on the gold and silver. Here, gift wrap serves as an inexpensive table runner. A pretty silver bow ties up a table setting of a gold charger, striking salad plate and white dinner plate.

  • Pinecone beauty

    White-tipped pinecones atop napkins hold place cards. The soft colors repeat in white candles wrapped with fat green velvet ribbon attached with pearl-headed pins.

    More ideas for natural holiday decor

  • Artful arrangement

    Our casual place setting shows simple can be beautiful. Its personality started with a cleverly folded "pocket" napkin. Then we added artfully arranged silverware, a $2 place mat, layered dishes and a frame of grapevine twigs -- all on a table runner cut from bargain burlap.

  • Action figure

    Create woodland animals inspired by old-fashioned mechanical toys—they're perfect for embellishing napkin rings, wine bottles and packages. To make, print images onto a stiff paper, cut out the shapes and attach moveable limbs with brads. 

  • Arctic inspiration

    A frozen environment inspired this serene tabletop in organic colors of gray and winter white. To set the scene, fill a simple centerpiece bowl with rocks and faux snow, and then add some bare branches. Free-form plates paired with frosty glasses and flatware continue the icy theme. Reinforce the idea of a winter landscape with a place mat and accent plates in bark and tree branch motifs. A notched birch branch holds a place card. The prowling polar bear (found in the toy section of a crafts store) feels right at home in this habitat.

    Accent plates Textured Botanical. West Elm. (888) 922-4119; westelm.com Dinnerware Lastra, colors: gray and white. Vietri. (919) 245-4180; vietri.com Flatware Pendulum satin. Robert Welsh. robertwelsh.com Place mat Chilewich Faux Bois Driftwood. Crate and Barrel. (800) 967-6696; crateandbarrel.com

  • Velvet votives

    Add sparkle to your tabletop with these easy-to-make candles. Just wrap velvet ribbon around silver votives, and glue on mini pinecones to add a festive touch!

  • Stocking stuffer

    Tuck silverware into small stockings to create festive place settings. Any small purchased or handmade stockings will work. If you want to make your own, draw a 7-inch-tall stocking shape and cut stockings out of scrap fabric. Glue or sew the sides together and, if you have extra time, cross-stitch a design on the front.

  • Make it clearly Christmas

    Layer silver and paper snowflakes or Christmas-theme confetti between clear plastic plates for frosty fun at the dinner table.

  • Santa baby

    This setting looks like the jolly old fellow created it himself. A classic red-and-green color scheme highlights white accent dishware molded in St. Nick’s likeness (similar pieces are easy to find around the holidays).

    Make place cards by gluing black-and-white copies of family members’ baby photos onto red craft paper and decorating with paper Santa hats and pom-poms. Prop them on candy cane tripods made by hot-gluing three canes together. White napkins fold up to act as cuffs on Santa’s red gloves, which hold crinkled ribbonlike silverware and crisp red napkins. Candies and bottle brush trees complete the playful look.

    Dinnerware Cherry Color Burst. Oneida. (888) 263-7195; oneida.com Flatware Ori. Oneida. (888) 263-7195; oneida.com Salad Plate Santa white canape. Vietri. (919) 245-4180; vietri.com (Please note that mat has been discontinued.)

  • Bell-issimo!

    Inexpensive gold bells on a snow-white tablecloth start this modern scene. Sprinkle glittery “snow” onto foam trees wearing a light coat of spray-on glue; add bells as treetoppers. An upside-down wineglass filled with shredded tinsel is another sparkly tree shape. Pine boughs in glass vases filled with the same sparkly “snow” make an easy centerpiece. Fold white napkins like trees and add garlands of gold ribbon. For a take-home gift (and place card) fill a glass ornament with tiny bells and tag with your guest’s initial. 

    Dinnerware Urban Nature. Villeroy and Boch. villeroy-boch.com Flatware Alessandro Gold. Oneida. (888) 263-7195; oneida.com


  • Easy set up

    Enjoy a casual table for holiday meals all month long. Deer-motif dish towels make nifty place mats. Buy two sets so you can leave the table set while the dirty towels get washed.

  • Let it snow

    A blizzard of snowflakes enhances this tableau. Use assorted-size paper, plastic or felt snowflakes as coasters or place mats. Or toss them across the table. Add “snowballs” to the mix with different-size pom-poms. Frosted white ornaments and pom-poms fill a bowl for a super simple centerpiece. Hot-glue a name card to a pom-pom attached to a snowflake base as a place card. The polka-dot plate and flatware inspired the falling snow motif (made with self-adhesive dots) on the water glass. The red-and-white-only color scheme keeps things fresh.

    Dinnerware Rosso Vecchio Dot. Vietri. (919) 245-4180; vietri.com Flatware Larabee Dot. Kate Spade. (866) 999-5283; katespade.com

  • Wrapping paper accents

    Turn colorful, graphic designs into bargain Christmas decor for your table.

    Easy napkin rings: Fashion wrapping paper scraps into simple, seasonal napkin rings. Mount paper to card stock. Cut 1x10-inch strips. Starting 1-3/4 inches from one end of a strip, create a 1-1/4 inch slit. Wrap strip around a napkin, pulling the opposite end through the opening. A felt snowflake adds finishing frill.

    Colorful name card holders: Wrapping paper scraps can make merry place card holders. Glue paper to both sides of a 3x5-inch piece of card stock. Fold in half, leaving a 1/2 inch lip to fold up as the card holder. For extra cheer, write names in holiday colors, or "give" guests names from classic Christmas tales and let them pick their seats.

  • Tiny tree table

    Out-of-the-ordinary vessels will make tiny evergreens stand out.

    Here, foot-high yews, with root balls nestled in moss, look fresh lined up in a galvanized tray. Anchor with white and purple eggplants for an all-natural look. Use eggcups with tiny juniper sprigs to create "trees" at place settings; fill the cup bases with spice berries and pinecones. Linen napkins wrapped with green ribbon complete the organic look.

    More ideas for decorating with tiny trees

  • Instant decoration

    Thread bells on ribbon and scatter a few tree ornaments for an instant table decoration. A sprig of aromatic rosemary adds a touch of green to folded napkin pockets. Shown on plate: Turkey Breast a la Porketta, a pork roast invented by Italian and Portuguese immigrants in Iron Country.

    Turkey Breast a la Porketta

  • Golden touch

    Create an elegant look with gold-rimmed plates and flatware. Small gifts wrapped in bright red paper are a fun way to start your gathering. Display a special message to each guest with a decorated card on a stand.

    More ideas for a decadent holiday gathering

  • Dress up chairs

    Add to the appeal of your holiday table by dressing up chair backs. Here, we draped the chair with a yard of soft white fabric tied in a square knot, added a purchased twig wreath, and held it all together with a fat red ribbon and glued nametag.

  • Edible place cards

    Eye-catching fruit like these Anjou pears makes a perfect platform for place cards.

  • Keep it super-simple

    White plates provide a pretty contrast against a red charger and red tablecloth. A simple striped ribbon adds just the right touch of color to the white napkin.

  • Lovely layers

    For a quick and easy casual presentation, fold napkins into a square and top with an evergreen sprig and a pretty ornament, such as this crocheted star.

  • Fragrant decor

    For a fragrant chair-back decoration, bundle bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and marjoram with twine. Bouquets can be made several days in advance, then refrigerated. Once dry, use them for cooking!

  • Christmas centerpiece ideas: carnations

    Red-and-white all over

    Centerpieces of red-and-white carnations set the tone for this table. Complete the setting with clear glass jars filled with mints, peppermints scattered on the table, red-and-white ornaments and more. 


  • Initial it

    Create cute letter shapes for your place settings with red-and-white pipe cleaners. Add a sprig of fresh greenery for color.

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