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.
But of course, holiday decor can easily feel ho-ho-ho-hum and predictable, particularly when sticking to a traditional aesthetic. Don’t get us wrong — we love a straight-up festive spread replete with evergreen flourishes and red candles — but we personally felt that it was due time for a holiday styling refresh.
With that, we asked a few of our lead designers to take on three unexpected holiday table looks: cozy cottage, boho harvest, and campfire cheer. Ahead, find their creative and fun interpretations, and consider embracing these twists on tradition this holiday season.
2021 was the year of cottagecore, and our VP Design, Shelby Girard, is taking the trend to tabletop 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, topped with jute flower-shaped placemats, a collection of vintage floral china, and antique wine glasses (bonus points if you inherited them from your grandmother, like these). Shelby kept the centerpiece simple and minimal, opting for a vintage-inspired vase filled with assorted greenery and dark hydrangeas, foraged directly from her own backyard. 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, Shelby suggests sticking to a warm neutral palette of rich honeyed tones, wood textures, and soft 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 designed by Heather Goerzen, Havenly Design Editor, is a playful twist on holiday decor. Instead of classic reds and greens, Heather embraced a more vivid autumnal palette with berries, blues, pinks, and golds. That goes for the plates and stemware as well — colored glassware is very on-trend! She recommends 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 holiday tablescape brought to you by Melissa Wagner, Havenly Lead Designer, 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.
To start, Melissa put a spin on the original holiday color scheme with crisp primary tones, including classic red and green alongside yellows, browns, and blacks. Instead of a formal tablecloth, she draped a wool blanket over the patio table and topped it off with matte black plates, rustic enamel mugs, and tree trunk slices instead of proper chargers. Finished with faux furs, cabin-inspired textiles, and evergreen flourishes, this outdoor holiday tablescape is fresh, fun, and pandemic-friendly (though you can just as easily bring the look indoors).
To pull off this rustic holiday soiree at your place, Melissa urges you to forgo 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.