Want to up your tablescape game this holiday season? Here are my top tips for putting together the perfect tablescape with modern touches of matte black paired with timeless ivory and gold. Written in partnership with Wayfair.
Half of the fun of hosting friends and families during the holidays is putting together the dinner table decor. You can set the tone for the entire dinner party just by the way you set the table. Whether you’re planning a fancy event or a casual meal with extended family, here are my top tips for dressing the table, setting the dishware, and choosing cohesive decor.
Prep The Table And Chairs
First things first, give your table and chairs a good cleaning. Even if you plan on adding a table cloth, you’ll want the table to be clean underneath. A clean table helps avoid scratches, keeps linens from snagging, and feels sanitary to guests.
If you need to add extra leaves to the table or bring in additional chairs from other rooms, now is the time to go ahead and do that, too. Make sure there’s enough room for guests to move around the table, as well as move their elbows comfortably. If the space is feeling too tight, consider moving your dining table to a larger room like the living room. A quick push on furniture pads will swap your living and dining space.
I always suggest adding a tablecloth when you’re hosting a large crowd. It looks like you took an extra step to make the space feel decorated, but it also protects your table. It’s a barrier to help with water rings, stains, scratches, and other damage. Plus it saves you from having to wipe down the table after dinner while your guests are still visiting. You can just pull the tablecloth off and throw it in the washing machine.
Create Your Centerpiece First
Before any dishes hit the table, go ahead and build out your centerpiece. You can go really elaborate, or you can keep it simple and minimal. A six foot strand of garland can be laid across the middle of the table and shaped into a wiggly line. It makes a big impact, but it’s really just one piece of decor.
To fill in the gaps around the garland, add unscented candles of varying sizes. Start by placing tapered candle holders to give the centerpiece some height. Then you can fill in bare spots with chunky pillar candles. For this tablescape, I kept the candle color scheme black and ivory only. They’re a nice contrast and they have a gorgeous glow when lit.
Still seeing some bare spots but don’t want to add more candles? You can place tree ornaments in gaps around candles and garland to add more texture. These matte black ornaments next to the woodsy garland and the waxy candles really pull it all together.
Adjust Place Settings As Needed
That standard place setting you learned in Home Ec class years ago isn’t always necessary. For a typical dinner party, you aren’t using that many utensils, glasses, and plates. Don’t put anything on the table that isn’t intended to be used, or guests will be confused. If you’re not serving salad, don’t put out a salad plate. And if you aren’t serving wine, one glass at the table will do.
To create a place setting, start with the plates in the middle, put the napkin and forks to the left of the plate, and the knives and spoons to the right of the plate. Drinking glasses go in the top right corner over the knife and spoon, and a bread plate goes in the top left corner over the forks (if you need a bread plate).
My biggest suggestion for a place setting is to use black cloth napkins instead of white. Everyone always gets a little nervous about white cloth napkins. Guests are so worried they’re going to stain your linens, so by putting out black napkins that takes the stress away.
I also love to use stemless wine glasses as water glasses. They look and feel fancy, plus they give your table setting some dimension next to a tall wine glass. Even if I’m not serving wine, I still put out wine glasses to hold iced tea. That small switch elevates the meal instantly.
Have A Pre-Dinner Plan
You know that moment when all the food you’ve been cooking gets done all at the same time, guests are asking where the bathroom is, the dog is trying to steal the snacks off the coffee table, and zero of twelve candles have been lit? Yeah, that’s the beginning of a full-on hosting freakout.
You can combat this by planning ahead to appoint a helper. This person is in charge of lighting candles, gathering the snacks, filling drink glasses, and corralling guests to the table. Just having an extra person to handle these things helps you stay focused and not forget the bread in the oven.
Another thing that helps tame the dinnertime chaos is adding place cards. I know, I know, place cards are for weddings and corporate meals. But picking a seat can get stressful for guests, especially if they don’t know anyone else at the party. Take the guesswork out of it by assigning seats. Trust me, your guests really do appreciate it. You can DIY your own place cards ahead of time on a rainy afternoon, and kids love to help with this.
Holiday Tablescape Step By Step
1. Clean table
4. Candles and ornaments
9. Place Cards
Copy My Dining Room Holiday Tablescape
I got everything for this tablescape from Wayfair. When it comes to shopping for holiday decor, I like to use my online cart as a makeshift moodboard. I can fill it up with all the things I love and see how they look together by scrolling down the list.
That’s why Wayfair is the perfect place to get holiday dining room decorations. They have everything from table linens to dishes to decor, and even dining room tables and chairs. You can outfit your entire space all in one online shopping trip and most items ship fast and free.
Here’s a full breakdown of all the items I used in my holiday dining tablescape so you can get this look in your own home.
How do you serve the food? This always baffles me with these gorgeous table settings. Do you do a buffet somewhere else? (your buffet is also covered in pretty decoration so I am just really curious about how this works practically speaking.)
Brad Gandy says
Hi, Wendy! That’s an excellent question. With this kind of table setting, we serve the food buffet-style in the kitchen.