Decor tips

Creating Inviting Holiday Tablescapes

Words by Lia Picard
Photography by Samuel Pasquier

Mixing and matching Gunia Project, Malaika and Ro-Smit ceramics with Xaquixe and LSA International glassware

Setting a beautiful table for your holiday gathering might sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It just requires a little planning and forethought. Setting an inviting table is worth the effort, though. It creates an inviting ambiance and serves as a visual treat for you and your guests. Your holiday tablescape also allows you to show off some of your favorite decor accents — bonus points if those products are made by brands that support causes like gender equality and community engagement. 

To help you get started, we’ve shared some tips on what you need to know for creating an inviting tablescape this holiday season.  

Small Fritz Hansen Ikebana Vase - photography courtesy of Fritz Hansen

Start with your table size and shape:

Do you have a round or rectangular table? You can create a tablescape for whatever size or shape (including an intimate two-seat bistro table), but, it’s important to keep these details in mind as you source items. Low centerpieces like this Ikebana vase by Fritz Hansen lend themselves nicely to round tables, while linear decor is great for rectangular tables. 

It’s also good to keep in mind what sort of occasion you’re hosting and what you want your overall aesthetic to be. If you’re going for a formal look, you’ll want to set the tone with a nice tablecloth and glass accents. If your meal is alfresco or held during the day, casual textiles and vibrant palettes work great. But, of course, this is your creation and there are no hard and fast rules — create a look that best represents you.

Siafu Home Napkin Rings, Set Of 6 in Ebony and Congolese Napkin, set of 6 in Day

Add layers and texture:

Layers and textures create a more interesting tablescape. One way to do this is with placemats for each setting. This Orchard pattern by Malaika on top of a contrasting tablecloth is bright and cheery and adds a pop of color as well as some dimension to the tablescape.

Plates, silverware, and napkins set an elegant tone (even if your occasion isn’t “fancy,” a little elegance is okay to let people know this is a special event). You could just fold your napkins and place them next to the charger (a decorative plate on the place setting), but show stopping napkins like these deserve to be put front and center by draping on the charger or accenting them with napkin rings. Using napkins with a bold pattern is another way to add a fun textural element.

Gunia Project ceramics

Don’t forget flowers and greenery:

Flowers are a must when it comes to the holiday table because they add life, color, and beauty. You don’t have to run out and buy an expensive bouquet at the florist, though. In fact, scouting your yard or public spaces for local blooms, greenery, and branches is a sustainable way to create a sense of place. Herbs that you might have on hand also make nice additions to little bouquets or tucked into napkin rings.

Creative centerpieces

The flowers that you foraged (or purchased) can be arranged into a bouquet that stars as your table’s centerpiece. A singular vase is great, especially if you want height, but small bouquets in mini vases that can be spread around the table are lovely, too.

Another centerpiece idea that’s simple to execute, is a shallow, clear bowl with seasonal filler. In the winter, oranges add warmth (and you can eat them later), but also consider what’s available near you such as seashells or pinecones (treat them first).

Malaika Pomegranate Candle Holder in Red - photography courtesy of Malaika

Be intentional about your items:

When you host people during the holidays, your tablescape is a chance for you to thoughtfully source items. Instead of mass-produced decor, intentionally shopping for items that are made with natural materials and help people in marginalized communities makes the holiday cheer go a little further. Doing this also lets you share your point of view with your guests. So when they ask you where you bought your pomegranate candle holder, for example, you can tell them it’s from Goodee and that it empowers women in Egypt.

About Author section

Lia Picard is a freelance journalist who writes about food, interior design, and interesting people. Her work appears in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Thrillist, and a variety of national and regional publications. She calls Atlanta home along with her daughter, husband, and pup.

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