Place Settings for the Holidays

It's time to bust out the china, polish the silverware and start planning those holiday dinner parties! I must admit cooking is not my favorite BUT prepping the house and styling the tablescape for guests is!

I'm a big believer in mixing and matching, whether it be classic fashion staples infused with the modern trendy piece or reusing decorative items from previous seasons. You don't have to reinvent the wheel every time to achieve successful design. You simply need to implement a few design guidelines and train your mind/eye to be comfortable with layering and mixing-n-matching.


It all starts with color and your foundation. If your colors are monochromatic cream, white and silvers create a theme around that. If you like high contrast, consider using metallics as the foundation color and introduce those beautiful jewel tones with accents of black. The goal is to remain consistent with color as you begin to layer your elements.

Start first with your table runner or tablecloth. If your table has a beautiful finish you may not need a tablecloth. Leaving the table exposed adds depth and dimensions while also introducing a different materiality.

Consider the color and pattern in your foundation. If you intend on using dishes that have a pattern be sure the scale of the pattern doesn't clash with your table cloth. You want some patterns to be large and spread out and others tight and intricate.


Napkins are a perfect way to introduce color, pattern and whimsy. These are all from World Market. Affordable and very impactful. Remember you don't have to so literal with holiday decor. So long as the colors are indicative of the season the pattern or graphics are endless. Get creative and select a napkin or tea-towel that is unexpected.


If you're so luck as to have true quality vintage china, layer those dishes with something solid and vibrant or saturated to create contract. Don't forget about the glassware. You can introduce color this way as well. My in-laws gave us beautiful vintage blue glasses. They were actually apart of their wedding china. Quality almost NEVER goes out of style. This is also a good time to introduce various shapes to your place setting. Combine cups, bowls, plates, saucers and create an arrangement that doesn't only represent one shape. It is okay to mix square dishes with round plated and vice versa.

Below are a few easy place setting arrangements I created. They are simple yet still make a statement! All of these items were bought at either World Market or Target a few days ago. So if you see something you like act fast!


Incorporate fresh herbs when possible. Here I added a sprig of Rosemary to the napkin role and tied with decorative ribbon.


As I mentioned don't be afraid to mix plate shapes. I'm using the black square plate as the foundation and then bringing in the round fray and white plate to soften the look. Bring unique holiday elements to the plate like this sweet little white pumpkin. Attach a tag, and voila'!, you have an instant name tag for your guests!


It wouldn't be the holidays without a little Christmas cheer. I used this cute white glittered tree from

Target as the main decorative element. Simple fresh with touches of sparkle and a pop of

red feels like Christmas on a plate.


This is my personal favorite, it screams creativity, vibrancy and also a sense of coziness. I combined a few left over faux florals and tied with a ribbon to create this decorative piece on the plate. I love orchids, so for a second option I cut one of the orchid petals and placed it the plate. Instant wow factor!

You may also enjoy this post "The Fine Art of Hospitality: Entertainment, Tablescapes & Prep Tips"

I hope these examples have encouraged you to break from the traditional place setting arrangements and really feel free to be create. Consider color, pattern and layers. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Most importantly have fun! Your guests will feel special and the table will look fabulous.

If you feel overwhelmed or simply don't have the time TDS is still booking for holiday decor services. This includes Christmas trees, front door, mantel, stairway design and party set up. We'll purchase and set the stage for you. Please contact us for a quote, we'd love to assist!

Happy Table Setting,

Laura Thurman


 I'm Laura Thurman, creator of this blog and owner of Thurman Design Studio LLC. What I love most about interior design is the design process and all the hidden elements that make a space great: color theory, mood boards and textiles.

Inspiration is all around us in various creative fields; interiors, architecture, graphics design & fashion.

The purpose of my blog is to educate my readers by sharing the "inside scoop" on the design world and, in turn, provide helpful insights that will inspire you to elevate and love the spaces you inhabit.                I hope you leave educated and inspired! 

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