Hosting an annual get-together is a great honor, and how you set the holiday table sets the tone for the entire occasion. Naturally, learning how to set a holiday table that kindles a spirit of comfort, warmth, and elegance is a must!

There are no hard rules to setting a table for holiday festivities — only general guidelines. Feel free to get creative with your spread and let your unique taste shine. With the right decorations and serveware, you should have no problem putting together a picturesque tablescape.

We’re not here to tell you exactly what to do with your table. Instead, we’re going to provide a variety of ideas to spark inspiration. You can borrow bits and pieces that strike your fancy and set a holiday table that matches both your décor and your personality.

Without further adieu, here are five expert tips and suggestions to help your tablescape pop and ensure that this year’s celebration is one to remember forever.

1. Remember: Sometimes Less Is More

While lavish, opulent presentations certainly have their place, it’s easy to go overboard if you’re not careful. Too much clutter can distract the eye (and the palate), and overly gaudy design can feel more overwhelming than welcoming.

All of that said, a tasteful table doesn’t need to be mundane! You can still create a grand, luxurious atmosphere without crowding the table or crossing the line into tackiness. 

As you set the holiday table, consider each individual piece, as well as the whole spread. Is every item necessary? Could the space be utilized in a better way? Is the overall aesthetic cohesive, or are certain pieces clashing? Does anything feel out of place? Is anything missing?

While experimenting with how to set a holiday table, don’t focus only on visual appeal. You want your guests to feel at ease, so make sure your table is also practical and functional. You don’t want an excessive presentation to stand in the way of good food and conversation.

2. Choose a Few Focal Highlights

Mary Jurek Design Oceana Oval Serving Tray

As you set the holiday table, remember that not every component needs to be a conversation piece. Give your most important items some breathing room so guests can appreciate them fully.

Say you have a magnificent centerpiece with flowers, candles, and other visually breathtaking ornamentation. You may want to let it be the star of the show and opt for tableware that leans more on the subtle side. Minimalism can allow your decadent décor to shine even brighter.

3. Do a Trial Run

Here’s how to make sure you’re 100% confident in your tablescape on the big day: Do a trial run or two before the festivities, adding and removing pieces until you feel good about the final display. 

After you set the holiday table for the first time, take a picture. Rearrange things, and then take another. Repeat this process until you have some unique ideas to work with. Over the next few days, look at the photos and ask for opinions — see if one stands out as the winner.

4. Use High-End Basics

Mary Jurek Design Blossom Oval Tray

Knowing how to set a holiday table is only half of the equation. You need to have high-quality tableware and serveware, not only for aesthetic reasons but for the overall experience. 

When it’s time for drinks, upscale barware goes a long way in elevating the mood (and the drinks themselves). When you’re serving the main course, high-end bowlstrays, and platters make transporting heavy dishes easy and convenient while boosting presentation.

Little details matter when you set a holiday table. Would you have your guests use plastic utensils and paper plates? Of course not! But where do you draw the line? If ever there was a time to dust off your finest flatware and dishware, this is it.

Guests can tell when they’re using high-quality serveware. A nice heft and ergonomic handfeel make dining much more pleasurable. That’s why we craft all products by hand. We want to make sure every piece feels as amazing as it looks.

5. Cater Your Décor to the Guests and Holiday

Mary Jurek Design Symphony Scarlet Red Heart Tray

Are you inviting your co-workers over for a classy holiday soirée? Or, are you having a casual get-together with friends and family? Base how you set the holiday table on your guest list.

For example, an overly formal tablescape could stand in the way of a fun experience if your friends and family feel like they need to put on airs to fit the mood. Alternatively, the same exact formal setting could make guests feel like they’re part of something special.

Similarly, part of understanding how to set a holiday table is being mindful of the holiday you’re celebrating. A Christmas or Thanksgiving table will usually look quite different from a Halloween or Valentine’s Day table!

Consider the general tone of the occasion. Are you going to be popping Champagne and singing karaoke? Or, will your guests be mingling and chatting with hors d’oeuvres and martinis in hand? Set the holiday table and decorate the space accordingly.

Browse Our Blog and Collections for More Inspiration

We hope this guide is helpful as you plan your once-in-a-lifetime holiday meal! Browse our collections, where you’ll find everything you need to create a breathtaking presentation. Our tableware blog is also a fantastic resource for hosts.

Knowing how to set a holiday table is an important part of the festivities, but don’t let it cause unnecessary stress! Enjoying special moments with loved ones is what holidays are all about. A beautiful tablescape will enhance the experience, but how you spend the occasion is secondary to who you spend it with.

Set your holiday table with exquisite, luxurious décor that never goes out of style. Shop table-setting essentials by Mary Jurek Design, and give this year’s spread the five-star treatment!

Author Mary Jurek

Mary Jurek is the founder of Mary Jurek Design, a luxury serveware brand. She started her career in the jewelry industry, designing for notable brands such as Piaget Watch, Tiffany & Co., and Cartier. After receiving four international awards for her work, she was inspired to step out on her own. Her experience working with luxury jewelry firms led her to establish Mary Jurek Design Inc in 1997. She lives in Los Angeles and loves the arts, entertaining friends and family, gardening, and all things that make a home comfortable and inviting.