Creating the Perfect Holiday Table Setting

Holiday Place Setting
Photos By Julia Lynn Photography

The holiday season is here, which means plenty of opportunities to dress up your dining room table (especially if you are shopping at our high-end furniture store in Charleston!). Even if you aren’t having the same size gatherings that you normally would, creating a beautiful tablescape is worth the effort to lift the spirits. We believe that there’s no such thing as an overlaid table, just as there is no such thing as being overdressed. 

From minimalist to ornate, a table setting can make or break the atmosphere of a dinner party. Our Charleston interior designers have a few tips to get you started!

Holiday Dining Table Centerpiece

Pick a Theme

Before laying your table, consider the occasion and take stock of what you have. You should be able to use most of what you already have with the addition of a few novelties to give your table a wow-factor that will impress your guests.

Even if you are keeping things simple with only a few family members, you can still have a theme that really comes together with the centerpiece. For the sake of this tutorial, our Charleston interior designers are going to use a holiday-inspired theme.

Christmas Table Setting

Select Your Linen and Fabric Pieces 

Depending on what your theme is, you may or may not want to use a linen or fabric tablecloth, table runner, placemats, or a combination of these. A wooden table, like the GDC Home Mod Dining Table, looks beautiful as the base of a tablescape and doesn’t need to be covered by a tablecloth. 

If you do choose a tablecloth, simple white linen or fabric allows you to do more with your tablescape ideas. Think of it as the snowy base to your wintry scene and add gold placemats or chargers for a luxe aesthetic. Of course, if you’re embracing maximalism, by all means, go with a holiday print tablecloth.

Christmas Dining Plates

Choose Your Tableware + Utensils

If you are already integrating color with your linen and fabric napkins and placements, keep your tableware simple. White plates and bowls honestly look the best with a lot of tablescapes. Our delicate Incanto Stone Lace Set of 4 Salad Plates are reminiscent of snowflakes without being distracting. If you have holiday-themed plates, take advantage of using those while you can!

You can also keep your utensils simple and use what you have, or you can add a few decorative pieces like gold or wooden serving spoons. Remember, utensils should be set according to when you will use them. The smallest fork goes on the outside left, with the dinner fork on the inside. The knife should be to the right of the plate with the blade facing inwards and your spoon should be the furthest to the right. 

Christmas Table Decor

Create the Centerpiece

Now, for the really fun part! Your centerpiece can be as elaborate or as understated as you like. Before you begin, gather all the elements that you would like to see on your table: candles, flowers, garland, ornaments, reindeer figures, pinecones, etc. The world is your oyster. If you don’t think you have enough materials, head outside and grab some foliage from your garden. Clementines, apples, pinecones, and chestnuts look beautiful nestled within fresh pine branches or magnolia leaves.

Once you have all that you need, start by placing the tallest items first, which are often candlesticks. They should be placed so as to be roughly symmetrical down the length of the center of the table. Next, add the second-largest items, and so on. For smaller objects, be sure to stagger them so that they don’t seem too perfect. Finally, our Charleston interior designers suggest weaving your garland or foraged pine branches, fruit, ornaments, etc. through the table decor.

Festive Centerpiece

Decide on Your Glassware

Depending on how colorful your centerpiece is, you can either use simple crystal glasses or add fun colored glassware. Hand-painted with 14 karat gold, our Regalia glassware collection makes a royal statement in a formal table setting. With inherent sparkle, all glassware adds a bit of magic to a proper table setting and gives it a finished look!

Holiday Dining Room Decor

Don’t Forget Your Place Cards

This is a very important step if you are gathering a group for dinner so that everyone isn’t shuffling around in confusion deciding where to sit. Place cards can be as simple as a piece of cardstock folded in half or more exciting like a cookie or ornament. Whatever you choose, make sure you have someone with great handwriting write the names so they look elegant and are still legible.

As for placement, it’s generally accepted to have the head of the household at the head of the table and their spouse at the other end, like two anchors for your guests. The guests of honor will usually be seated next to them. The rest of the table is up to your preference. In the U.S., couples generally sit next to another, but you could also mix it up by separating couples and doing girl boy girl boy around the table.

Holiday Place Setting

Use Small Details to Tie Everything Together

Last but not least, tie everything together with small details. If you don’t have napkin rings, grab some holiday ribbon and tie it around your napkins. Or, you can gently tuck the napkin underneath a plate so that just the end can be seen. Leave a little sprig of your centerpiece on each plate as an organic last touch, like our Charleston interior designers!

So, there you have a starter formula for creating your holiday tablescape! Remember, it’s more of an art than a science, so let your creativity lead the way rather than following hard and fast rules. The most important thing is building an inviting space that will make you and your guests feel relaxed and happy.

Need more festive inspiration to achieve the perfect holiday home? Visit GDC Home’s high-end furniture store in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, or Kiawah Island to consult with our Charleston interior designers! Don’t forget to add these festive staples from our high-end furniture store in Charleston to your shopping cart!


Explore more of our latest styles and keep up-to-date with design trends by following GDC Home on our social platforms below. View our gallery and use the hashtag to find your next design inspiration!

View All