Holiday Table Decorations | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Simple Christmas Table Decorations and Settings

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Easy Christmas Centerpieces

Jessica Barlow
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Setting a table for Christmas? Here are 10 easy yet beautiful Christmas table ideas for yuletide cheer. From adding greenery to Christmas crackers, we have simple centerpiece and decoration ideas for a merry and bright holiday dinner.

“Dinner parties ought to be fun,” says Roseanna Robinson, director of Home Entertaining and Dining for The Pfaltzgraff Co. “You have to be relaxed and enjoy it, or no one has a good time. Think of how much we do sitting around the table!”

Planning ahead can make all the difference, says Robinson. She offers these tips for holiday entertaining:


  • Keep any centerpieces simple and low. You don’t want your guests to look at each other through a jungle of greenery.  We like these simple cranberry-evergreen centerpieces made with red cranberries (from the grocery store) and trimmed greens (from outdoors). These square vases are from IKEA but you can mix and match glass vases or use mason jars.


  • An even easier idea—inspired by nature—is to spread some greenery down the table. Put votive candles down the center. Everyone lingers longer with soft lighting versus harsh lighting.


  • Or, a single centerpiece is often the best. One easy but festivve idea is to put your Christmas ornaments in a platter or a bowl.



  • Tablecloths are important for a dinner party. Use one. See our tips on taking care of table linens.
  • If you don’t want the expense of linen, find a simple white tablecloth that you can throw in the wash. White will nicely set off the greens and reds of Christmas.
  • For a simple yet elegant touch, tie the corners with ribbons. A red ribbon against a white tablecloth is very festive.

Here’s an example of a tablecloth tie.


  • Or, consider adding a touch of nature with a pinecone from the outdoors.


Place Settings

  • A fun idea: Set the table with different plates, no two alike. This makes a festive and colorful table and gets people talking. It’s a great icebreaker.
  • Add a sprig of greenery and red ribbon to your place setting. You could also add herbs or other Christmas decorations (small candy canes).

Image credit: Svetlana Cherruty/Shutterstock

  • Christmas crackers with toys inside are traditional in England and increasingly popular in the Untied States. Most folks pull the crackers with each other before the starter course.


  • If you have a holiday collection—such as Santas, reindeer, or snowmen—you could include one at each place. Or, give each person a Christmas ornament as a little present to take home. 


The Dining Room

  • Use a lot of candles. Set out assorted candlesticks of all shapes and sizes. Freezing candles for at least 2 hours helps keep the wax from dripping. Try filling a vase or bowl with cranberries and floating votive candles for festive color!


A Few Tips About the Plate and Place Setting

  • Plan your menu so it will work easily on one dinner-size plate. Avoid things that will run into everything else. Think through the meal ahead of time and make sure everything will look appealing on one plate.
  • If you’re having many guests, consider a buffet table. Here’s how to set up a buffet
  • Don’t go overboard with desserts. Have a light one and, if you must, one drop-dead dessert. That’s plenty. Don’t make dessert the focus of the meal. See our best Christmas recipes.
  • Make sure you have a serving dish and serving utensil for everything on your menu. Make these easily accessible before you start cooking.
  • Set the table ahead of time, and figure out what will go where. Use sticky notes, if necessary, to plan positions for serving dishes. See how to set the table properly.
  • Use place cards and put them at the center of each place setting. Write in bold letters. If you’re entertaining people who don’t know each other, put the name on the front and on the back of the card, so the person sitting across the table can read the name, too.
  • Seat couples together. Although party books will tell you to split them up, in today’s busy world, it can be a treat to sit down to a meal with your spouse next to you.

 Always remember that getting together and sitting around the table rates above the food!

See our new post on natural decorating for Christmas. Get inspired by nature!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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