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.
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 
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!
Layer silver and paper snowflakes or Christmas-theme confetti between clear plastic plates for frosty fun at the dinner table.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
White-tipped pinecones atop napkins hold place cards. The soft colors are repeated in white candles wrapped with fat green velvet ribbon attached with pearl-headed pins.
Eye-catching fruit like these Anjou pears makes a perfect platform for place cards.
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.
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.
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!
Create cute letter shapes for your place settings with red-and-white pipe cleaners. Add a sprig of fresh greenery for color.