Entertaining · Holidays

How To Create Different Christmas Tablescapes

No matter what kind of holiday meal you are planning this crazy year, it is still possible to set a fun and festive table to celebrate. Each year, I end up creating at least three different Christmas tablescapes. We always have a casual Christmas Eve dinner with a nod to my Italian family tradition of the Feast Of Seven Fishes. On Christmas morning, after we open presents, we have a special brunch which features The Barefoot Contessa’s utterly delicious french toast casserole. And of course, there is Christmas dinner, when I set a more formal table with my best holiday china.

A reader of one of my previous posts commented, “between different table decor for Christmas Eve, breakfast, and dinner; I am exhausted without even thinking of the cooking.” I agree that all of these tables may seem a bit much, but if I’m entirely honest, creating festive tablescapes is my favorite part of entertaining. I’d actually be thrilled if I could get someone else to cook if I could just do the table settings. Sadly, no friendly elf has ever stepped in to do my cooking.

Christmas Eve Table

Since Christmas Eve is our more casual meal, I like to create a fun and less traditional centerpiece. This year, I decided to use our dessert as the centerpiece. This is an especially great idea if you have kids. Our kids are grown but we are all kids at heart, so it works for us too.

Christmas Tree Cupcakes displayed on a white cake stand serve as the Centerpiece for a playful Christmas Eve Tablescape.

These Christmas Tree Cupcakes from the Preppy Kitchen were easy and fun to make. I just made regular vanilla cupcakes (from a box) and iced them with white buttercream. I then piped green icing in layers, using a #30-star tip, onto sugar ice cream cones to make the trees. And lastly, I dusted them generously with powdered sugar “snow.”

Easy Christmas Tree Cupcakes made using sugar ice cream cones.

John Kanell, the Preppy Chef, suggests that you put a candy surprise inside the cone before placing it on top of the cupcake. I loved this idea but didn’t think it through.  I put green and red M&Ms inside my trees. When people tried to eat these adorable treats, those little candy-coated buggers spilled all over the floor. In retrospect, it would be much smarter to use one larger piece of wrapped chocolate candy or a mini candy cane instead. Live and learn!

Christmas Eve Table

The rest of the centerpiece includes a red and black plaid table runner and a pair of glass hurricanes with candles and mini red ornaments. (I keep the runner and the hurricanes on my kitchen table throughout the Christmas season.)

Christmas Eve place setting

The place setting consists of a cream and gold charger, a red napkin, a plaid dinner plate topped with a mini preserved boxwood wreath, and a plaid glass ornament. Since this is a casual family dinner, I use my every day glasses and stainless silverware.

Christmas Brunch Table

While I wanted a different look for my Christmas Brunch table, I did not want to reinvent the wheel entirely, so I used the same place settings from Christmas Eve. However, I did swap out the runner for a tablecloth and the chargers with felt snowflake placemats (mine are no longer available, but you can get something similar here). Instead of the cupcake centerpiece, I created an evergreen runner with cut cypress boughs, magnolia leaves, plaid ribbon, and ornaments.

Christmas Brunch Tablescape

In retrospect, I should have used the more playful snowflake placemats with the cupcake Christmas tree tablescape and the cream chargers on the brunch table–something to consider next time.

Christmas Dinner Table

Our Christmas dinner table in the dining room is the final holiday tablescape I do. This year I went with a very traditional formal table setting.

Formal Christmas Dinner Tablescape

I used white linen hemstitched placemats and layered Red and gold ribbons as the table runner in place of a tablecloth. The place settings consist of white and gold china buffet plates, red napkins, white and gold china holiday ribbon salad plates (no longer available, but these are similar), silver flatware, and crystal goblets. Atop each plate is a gift box tied with a ribbon and a small ornament. The gift boxes contain a chocolate truffle. Gold votives in front of each plate round out the place setting.

Formal Christmas table flower arrangement

The floral centerpiece contains red roses, alstroemeria, white peonies, stars of Bethlehem, and holly and cypress from my yard.

Overflow Christmas dinner table with, yikes, fingerprints!

Sometimes if we have a large group, we have to set up a second table in the hall. This extra table is set the same as the main table, except that the salad plates have a red band.

In all my holiday tables, you will note that I almost always place something decorative in the center of each plate. I think this adds a festive touch, and, depending on what you chose to place there, it can serve as a party favor for your guests as well. Whether you set one table or three, I hope you enjoy the process. I know your guests will appreciate the effort.

Happy tablescaping and Merry Christmas!


If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in:

Christmas Decorating Odds & Ends

A Tale Of Two Christmases

A Modern Italian Christmas Eve Fish Dinner

4 thoughts on “How To Create Different Christmas Tablescapes

  1. What a great way to make everything feel just that bit more festive! And good pro tip about the candies in the cupcakes!

    1. Thank you so much! Hopefully, most folks are smarter than me and wouldn’t put a bunch of little candies in the cones.

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