How to Design a Holiday Tablescape

Ensure your holiday table stands out with a carefully designed centerpiece or tablescape. A curated look that adds festive touches will set the tone for your gathering and create a warm ambiance. Learn how to easily assemble a charming holiday centerpiece.

Fit the Scale

Start with an empty table and designate space for your centerpiece. Leave room for place settings and decide if you want to serve food buffet-style or pass dishes around the table. Passing dishes allows for a more intimate dining experience, but you must leave space for those dishes on the dining table. The size of your table and the number of guests may make this decision for you. If you have a small table or a large guest list, a buffet may be the most effective use of space. A small table doesn’t mean you must settle for an underwhelming holiday tablescape; you can still craft a lovely holiday centerpiece by using the available space wisely.

Match the Dishware

If the meal will be served on patterned dishes, create a centerpiece that matches or aligns with the design. Feature coordinating florals when using dinnerware with a floral pattern; if the plates have a geometric look, feature candle holders or globes with a similar shape. Go monochrome if the dishes have a dominant colorway. Pick an element from the dishware and use that to create a coordinated tablescape for a cohesive look.

Create the Structure

Select the main items to feature in the centerpiece that will make up the structure of the display. Common centerpiece materials include candlesticks, vases, and decorative bowls. Choose items made from different materials that provide unique textures. Cake stands, and punch bowls are non-traditional items that make lovely tabletop additions while also adding height.

Source Accessories

Feature a variety of gourdes, Christmas ornaments, pine cones, or other appropriate small decorative items. These items add more color and texture while providing festive detail. Place some items in the bowls or on the cake stands that make up the structure of the display. Cluster several accessories around the base of the bowls or stands. It seems counterintuitive, but featuring display pieces in a seemingly scattered way makes the centerpiece look deliberate and professionally designed.

Liven Up the Space

Featuring plants adds vitality and a lush element to a holiday tablescape. Cut flowers like roses lend the table a formal look, while sunflowers give the space a rustic vibe. Weaving strands of garland or pine swags between candle sticks transforms the table into a winter-themed wonderland.

Consider using houseplants to adorn the space. Cut flowers are lovely, but heading out to purchase an arrangement is one more thing you must do in the already busy days leading up to the gathering. Using an existing houseplant in your holiday tablescape is effortless since you already have the plant. Arrange the reaching vines of a pothos around a series of decorative bowls or cake stands, or tuck a small Sansevieria or fern between some gourds. The vibrant foliage of a small Prayer Plant will set a moody vibe. Select a plant that fits the table and the desired look.

Create a Welcoming Ambiance

Feature items of various sizes and heights to create a layered look, which adds dimension. The overall look will be dull or fall flat if all of the components of a centerpiece are the same height. While varying height is important, rein things in and don’t go too big. Be mindful of how much height a centerpiece requires. Use thin or wispy items to add height, like tapered candles, floral fills like baby’s breath, or feathers. Avoid floral arrangements in tall vessels or elevating large items.

A well-crafted holiday centerpiece will create an inviting space but not impede the festivities. Be mindful of the height of items, and avoid blocking views from across the table. An obstructed view will prevent conversation and keep guests separate. Test your centerpiece before guests arrive by sitting and looking across the table. Do not include items that block sight lines, and make any last-minute adjustments to fine-tune the look.

Carry the Theme

Take elements of your holiday tablescape and include them in other areas where guests will gather. Feature similar candles, display and decor items, and greenery on a table or kitchen island serving as a buffet or dessert table. This consistency elevates the style while creating a cohesive and coordinated look.


What matters most during the holidays are the people around your table. Spending time with people you care about is good for your soul and strengthens bonds. A well-designed centerpiece adds to the festive atmosphere and is the perfect way to round out an already fantastic day.

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