Setting an on-point holiday table could be considered an art form. From the color palette and centerpieces down to the name tags and place settings, curating a beautiful tablescape fit for a celebratory feast is arguably more time-consuming than preparing the actual meal (especially if you’re an aesthetics-obsessed designer).
But of course, holiday table decor can easily feel predictable and trite, particularly when sticking to a strictly traditional aesthetic. While we’ll always love a straight-up festive spread replete with evergreen flourishes and red candles, we’re all about embracing the unexpected, too.
With that, we asked a few of our designers to share their take on fresh, foraged, and unexpected holiday table looks. From warm and cozy cottagecore to Parisian brunch and everything in between, there’s a little something for everyone. Ahead, find their creative and fun interpretations, and consider embracing these twists on tradition this holiday season.
This simple yet elegant holiday tablescape is a natural extension of the warm minimalist design aesthetic. Comprised of understated earth tones, natural textures, and hints of unlacquered brass, the versatile look is fit for a casual friendsgiving, a proper Thanksgiving feast, a slow-moving Christmas morning brunch, or a festive holiday dinner.
To get the look in your home, stick to a rich, earthy color palette comprised of olive, natural linen, ivory, and faded ochre. Here, we went with slipcovered dining chairs in olive linen from The Inside paired with a marble-topped pedestal table with a woven wicker base. The place setting is comprised of hand-painted china, gold charging plates, vintage glassware, and twine-wrapped linen napkins. Finished with a simple hydrangea arrangement and mustard-toned tapers, the look is classic, cozy, and elegant.
We only see cottagecore gaining popularity into 2023, and we couldn’t resist interpreting the look for the holiday season. Cozy, natural, and filled with warmth, this aesthetic is like a Holiday escape to Iris’ fairytale English cottage (IYKYK).
Here, a gingham tablecloth sets the stage for countryside coziness, while jute placemats, a collection of vintage floral china, and antique wine glasses finish the look (bonus points if you inherited them from your grandmother). The centerpiece is simple and minimal: a vintage-inspired vase filled with assorted greenery and dark hydrangeas. Wooden candle holders and a platter of cinnamon donuts complete the look — because baked goods (including sourdough bread) can absolutely double as edible decor for your cottagecore holiday scene.
To pull off the look in your home, stick to a warm neutral palette of rich honeyed tones, wood textures, and earth-hued accents like rust and forest green. And remember: the more organic textures the better. Think: linen napkins, jute placemats, seagrass glasses, and wooden accents.
Colorful, artful, and original, this boho-inspired tablescape offers a playful twist on holiday decor. Instead of classic reds and greens, embrace a more vivid autumnal palette with shades of berry, blue, pink, and gold. That goes for the plates and stemware as well — colored glassware is very on-trend! We recommend ditching pumpkins or pine cones in favor of another seasonal flourish: burgundy pears. Woven into the centerpiece and the place settings, this fruit adds an organic and sculptural accent that’s more interesting and unexpected.
To get the look in your dining room, consider swapping out traditional tapers for sculptural pillar candles in various hues, sizes, and shapes. Bring the outside indoors with fallen leaves and colorful florals to complement the palette, and add a warm neutral in the form of oatmeal linen napkins.
This Parisian modern tablescape offers a slightly edgy take on classic holiday table decor. Equal parts elevated, luxe, and festive, the look screams “Christmas morning brunch” (complete with flowing champagne, of course).
To bring the look home, start with a high-contrast black, white, and gold color palette. Vintage-inspired dinnerware with black and white check is a plus, but you can bring in the hues elsewhere, from the charging plates to the napkins and ribbon rings. Traditional touches come in the form of a red and berry bouquet, evergreen garland, and twinkle lights. Vintage brass candle holders add to the vintage-inspired aesthetic, while fresh fruit, croissants, and macarons double as edible decor.
We dub this holiday tablescape look “classic with a twist.” Sub the blue for red, and you have a perfectly traditional holiday look, but the former hue adds a fresh, unexpected touch that we absolutely love. Overall, the aesthetic masterfully mixes modern with traditional: clean, modern dining chairs, dining table, charger plates, and overall color palette, plus more traditional candle holders, china, and table linens.
The chinoiserie china is really the star of the show here, as it sets the palette for the entire look. The blue is carried through the table linens, taper candles, ribbon napkins and rings, while the evergreen accents check the “classic” box. Finished with white hydrangeas, brass accents, and vintage glassware, the look is trendy, yet timeless.
This bright and cheerful tablescape offers another welcome tweak on the classic holiday aesthetic. Instead of the traditional red and green, we embrace warm, autumnal shades of pomegranate, persimmon, dusty rose, deep mauve, and soft pink. We love this versatile look for Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Christmas, holiday dinner parties, January birthdays — all of the above.
To channel this festive look in your space, let the natural elements do the talking: fresh pomegranate functions as decor and hors d’oeuvres, while colorful bouquets brimming with seasonal hues like purple, orange, and pink steal the show. The monochromic look is broken up by fresh greenery, wooden charger plates, brass accents, and statement ombre glassware.
Calling all minimalists: this tablescape look is for you. Dubbed “coastal farmhouse,” this aesthetic is all about shades of white and ivory with natural textures and hints of seasonal evergreen. The pattern is a classic stripe, the cutlery is timeless brass, the tapers are white, and the furniture is natural wood. Of course, what this holiday table decor lacks in color it makes up for in texture — wooden charger plates and serveware, linen napkins, and fresh florals bring the look to life.
The best part? You can use your everyday dinnerware and table linens for this look — the “holiday” box is checked via extra candles, evergreen accents, twinkle lights, and a stray nut cracker figurine or two. Use leafy sprigs as place setting flourishes, keep the wine flowing, and voila! You have a classic holiday tablescape you can turn to year after year.
This holiday tablescape is inspired by the great outdoors and chilly evenings gathered around the campfire. If Pendleton and a Scandi Santa were to set a holiday table, it’d look a little something like this.
Start with a spin on the original holiday color scheme with crisp primary tones, including classic red and green, alongside yellow, brown, and black. Instead of a formal tablecloth, drape a wool blanket over the patio table and top it off with matte black plates, rustic enamel mugs, and tree trunk slices instead of proper chargers. Finished with faux fur, cabin-inspired textiles, and evergreen flourishes, this outdoor holiday tablescape is fresh, fun, and perfect for those in a warmer climate (though you can just as easily bring the look indoors).
To pull off this rustic holiday soiree at your place, forego the usual centerpiece and invite your guests to an interactive fondue dinner. Baskets filled with dipping bread, fruit, and veggies double as decor, while apples and felt acorns strewn down the table lend a subtle autumnal touch. Don’t forget the string lights above to carry your holiday feasting into the moonlight hours.
Is your dining room ready for the holidays? Take our style quiz and get matched up with your design soul made to bring your vision to life.