Christmas Table Setting for a Unique Holiday Dinner
In this post: Are you tired of the same old Christmas tabelscapes? This holiday table uses unique elements to create a beautiful Christmas table setting.⇒
It wasn’t that long ago that we had a full house.
But when we became empty nesters, we moved into our townhouse and I spent the better part of the first year setting up, decorating and beginning some more structural renovations.
The move gave me the opportunity to correct some of the design issues I’d wanted to address in our last home and as a result, I’ve since begun to enjoy the fruits of my efforts.
When it comes to the holidays I typically opt for a soft touch, decorating with a lighter hand and selecting things that complement my new decor.
The one place, however, where I often make an exception is in the dining room for my Christmas dinner table setting.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a dinner table that I didn’t want to set for a beautiful occasion.
I think it’s the temporary nature of a tablescape that allows me the freedom to create a fantasy, even if it diverges from my everyday style.
Of course I always bring my signature preference for casual elegance, but with tabletop design, I allow myself to use colors and themes that I couldn’t necessarily live with on a daily basis.
I also approach tables the way I used to design fashion collections, beginning with a concept that, more often than not, is driven by color story and, more importantly, pattern mix.
In this case I knew I wanted to use tartan, but I enjoy challenging myself to use patterns I’ve used before in new ways.
I’ve done tartan with floral, punctuated with gold, so I knew I was looking for something quite different here.
I had purchased the black and cream salad plates for an upscale Halloween table and thought it would be fun to re-use them here.
Once those two patterns were selected, I needed to ground my color story.
Steering clear of the red and gold I had done before, I decided to concentrate on mossy green and silver, all with an underpinning of snowy white.
To ensure an air of festivity, I added holiday ornaments, both tucked into the greenery and even popped into a martini glass.
The restrained use of red makes it stand out even more and the glimmer of the ornaments communicates holiday cheer.
The clustered napkin set has become a bit of a signature look for my tables. It adds both an opportunity to use color as well as a richness through layered fabrics.
Here the lime organza napkin is just translucent enough to see the claret one beneath, and the jewel-like crystal napkin rings are emphasized by the dark colors they gather within.
(The very same rings were used on my delicate French blue and white table for a completely different look, underscoring how easy it is to re-use your tableware in very varied ways.)
For the centerpiece, I wanted to highlight my cherub garden statue and around it I placed holiday greens. The greens are, in fact, two large door swags that I simply placed upon the table runner.
Snow dusted pine cones add to the Christmas ambiance.
On the sideboard I continued the woodsy pinecone theme, both gilded and natural, gathered in a bowl and flanked by candles and bottlebrush trees.
For whimsy and interest I tucked in these lovely birds and they look right at home amongst the winter greenery.
As a sculptural touch and for another bit of green, I placed faux pears at the center of each place setting. They work perfectly with the napkins and add a bit of height to the plate stack
I’m absolutely certain there’s more glitter on my floor than is left on any of these pieces!
To continue the theme of layered complexity, I chose not to use a tablecloth, and instead used white linen placemats and a stone linen runner.
I like a table to look lush and full and the expanse of all white tablecloth can sometimes hinder that look.
I’ve written before about the provenance of my candlesticks, but for those of you who are new here, I’ll repeat their origin.
I love to buy candlesticks on all of my travels, and these are probably my absolute favorite. They’re from an antique market in Islington in London, but I was told when I purchased them they originated in Prague.
The gunmetal bobeches I found in a sweet little shop in Mougins, France.
I love the chippy look the statue adds to the table, keeping all the bling from getting too serious.
These brass and crystal candlesticks were found on a not-so-exotic trip, visiting my daughter at school in Indiana.
And always, on my tables, Ralph Lauren’s glen plaid goblets…
The goal was to meld varied elements to come up with a cohesive looking table that’s maybe just a little bit out of the ordinary. If some things don’t match perfectly that’s part of the beauty.
After all, what I really want to focus on at holiday time is filling that empty nest up once again!
Christmas Table Setting Resource List
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
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Stunning, Lory! Your style is so elegant and beautiful yet approachable. LOVE everything!
Happy Holidays sweet friend!
Thanks so much, Julie! I just came from visiting your lovely tour, as well. I’d call it Farmhouse Elegance. Just great!! Merry Christmas to you too, my friend… 🙂
I applaud you for downsizing once you became empty nesters, two very big life changes! Our nest also became empty last year and we attempted to downsize but it didn’t happen and we find at Christmastime to be so glad we aren’t dealing with figuring out a new house! ? enormous undertaking on your part. Your tables are stunning and thank you for explaining the intention behind each as I always find that very helpful. Hope your new home envelops you and yours with gratitude, love and peace this first Christmas.
Pamela, thank you so much for your lovely comment! The funny thing is, while we did move to a townhouse, we didn’t exactly downsize… 😉 In fact, my new home is actually bigger than the old one… (I have secret hopes of luring the kids back as often as possible, and eventually with their own families! Ok, it’s actually not so secret… ;-)). We wound up with a home that has an open flow, which seems to work well for entertaining and parties, so hopefully there will be plenty of that. Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I wish you the Merriest Christmas!!
Lory, Everything is done up so beautifully! Love how you mixed your patterns and colors on your table so pretty and elegant!
Thank you so much, Tammy! I enjoyed your tour as well… 🙂 I’m so grateful for the opportunity to join up with you gals!! Have a very Merry Christmas!
Lori, your table setting is gorgeous – tartan is one of my favorites and you have it displayed so perfectly for this season. I love your soft touch – so elegant. Cathy
Thanks so much, Cathy! I just came from enjoying your tour, as well… 🙂 Isn’t it fun how perfectly tartan works for the holidays? I see you’ve used plaids in your gift wrap decor and it just adds so much to the room. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!!
Where do I start since I love EVERYTHING??? Please come be my table setter…you come up with such gorgeous ideas. I am soooo crushing on those silver candlesticks. I save all your design ideas in my Lory folder and, sometimes, just to look at something lovely, pull them out and drool. You really are blessed with such a great decorating imagination.
Bobbi, that is such a wonderful comment!! I’m so delighted to hear about your Lory folder… 🙂 I do the same with visuals I enjoy and I am chuffed and honored to know that I am inspiring to someone else! Thanks for reading and always leaving delightful comments! I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!!
I so agree with you about the problems inherent to a white tablecloth; I’m all about a full table, too. Your Christmas table is lovely, and I think that you nailed all your goals for the look. The RL goblets are gorgeous. My daughter attended IU School of Music…quite the school…beautiful campus. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for inviting us for a peek. Cherry Kay
Enorme beleza, requinte e bom gosto… Parabéns e um feliz Natal!!!
Love this table setting! Can you tell me how tall your garden cherub is? I would love to recreate it in my home next Christmas.
Yes, sure. It’s 22” tall.
May I ask why ,you set the lovely table with the utensils incorrectly? A salad fork,a dinner fork go on The left side of the plate,on the right side of the plate ,the knife,with cutting blade placed toward the plate, with the spoon or spoons to the right of knife! I’m old school,this is how Emily Post teaches it! ,Martha Stewart too! Is it a European thing?
Sure, you may ask… 🙂 I do it that way because it’s prettier. It leaves room for a full napkin all fluffed up in a napkin ring on the other side of the plate. I’d hate to cover the lovely china plate with a napkin.
The purpose of my posts is to inspire you with ideas that I hope are beautiful, but of course you will take from them what works for you. If you prefer the traditional layout of flatware, you can still be inspired by the colors and patterns.
Btw, as a huge fan of etiquette books, I have found that even the traditionalists are updating their advice on all sorts of topics. I learned this when I was a calligrapher and found that the old school way of addressing envelopes has been updated to accommodate new social norms.
But then again, I also wear white after Labor Day… 😉