Beautiful Christmas table setting

How To Properly Set And Dress A Holiday Table

How you set and dress your holiday table is almost as important as the meal you serve. If you prepare your dining room the right way, you can help get your guests in the holiday spirit and ensure they have a fun and festive day. Here are some holiday table setting tips you can tap into this season, whether you have an open concept kitchen or separate dining room.

Properly set your dining room table — no etiquette class required.

A decorated christmas table with wine glasses and christmas tree in background. 3d rendering

People get really overwhelmed when it comes to which fork is used for what and where the proper place to put a glass is. It’s really not as confusing as it seems. First, decide if you’re going with a basic, informal or formal table setting. Even if you’re taking the good china out of your solid wood cabinetry, a basic setting is probably adequate. Unless you’re serving multiple courses, the extra silverware and plates aren’t really necessary.

For a basic table setting, your plate will go front and center with your napkin on top. Forks go left on the plate and in order of use (so if you want to give guests a salad fork that will go to the left of their dinner fork). Knives go to the right and also in order of use (so the dinner knife will be closest to the plate and the butter knife to its right). If guests will need a spoon, it should be placed to the right side of the knives. Your drink glass goes to the top right and the bread plate to the top left. Voila!

Napkin holders are a subtle way to spice up your table setting.

Even those who keep holiday decorations to a minimum can appreciate the allure of napkin holders. They add a tiny touch of sparkle or color without being overpowering. You can even DIY your holiday napkin holders for an affordable option. These Holly Napkin Holders from Martha Stewart are an easy project that are also super adorable and minimalistic. For a five-second napkin holder, you can just curl a few pieces of ribbon and tie them loosely around your linens. Fast, festive, and only a few cents per setting!

Avoid table clutter by setting up a buffet table.

Catering food

Whether you have an open concept kitchen, portable island, or traditional buffet table, converting extra space into a buffet station is a great way to free up your holiday table. Buffet style dinners can also make your guests feel more at home, as they are able to serve themselves and get seconds without asking.

Add understated holiday décor that doesn’t distract from dinner.

Highlight your dining room and buffet table with understated décor that won’t get in the way of dinner. For example, use string lights or tinsel to trim the edges of your solid wood cabinetry or countertops for a faint but festive accent. Candles are always a wonderful addition to the dining room and make it easy to incorporate holiday colors and ambiance. You can also use tiny wreaths to give pillar candles a seasonal twist. Another great spot to decorate in the dining room is your chairs. You can add holiday flair without creating any clutter with some DIY chair back décor.

Place cards can help guests find the perfect seat.

If you have a large family or extend your holiday dinner to friends and neighbors, seating can sometimes be a nightmare. Rather than let your guests navigate the table, simplify seating with place cards. Try to find commonalities among your guests to create the most enjoyable experience possible. And if two family members got in a little tiff last year, it doesn’t hurt to put them at opposite sides of the table. Incorporate your place cards into your napkin holders by punching a hole in the corner or set a folded card behind each guest’s plate.

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