Simplify Your Holidays: Easy & Gorgeous Christmas Table Settings

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There are plenty of examples of beautiful, elaborate table settings for Christmas dinner available online. But if simplicity, both in aesthetics and workload, are more your style, you might be interested in the following table setting ideas for your holiday gathering. Comprised of a few very basic elements, each setting reflects a modern sensibility during this timeless season. We hope you are able to truly enjoy the warmth and joy of this Christmas season with these simple, stylish table setting ideas.

Modern Natural Christmas Table Setting – This simple table setting invites the flavor of an old-fashioned Christmas. A natural linen napkin rests centered on a plain white dinner plate. Greenery picks (in this example, 6” boxwood stems wrapped around a round of floral wire) in the shape of a classic wreath provide the only adornment and color.

Notable elements for Modern Natural:

  • Gold flatware
  • White dinner plate
  • Natural linen napkin
  • Stemless wine glass
  • Boxwood wreath

All Wrapped Up – Removing the expected napkin placement from the left of the place setting to wrapped around the dinner plate horizontally adds an element of gentle surprise to this moody, simple setting. In addition, placing all flatware to the right of the dinner plate in one grouping, instead of splitting it in the traditional way, gives the setting a modern twist.

Notable elements for All Wrapped Up:

  • Natural linen napkin wrapped around white plate, horizontally
  • Sprig of greenery and red berries
  • Flatware grouped to the right of plate
  • Woven placemat in natural color tones
  • Stemless wine glass

Greenery & Twine – A contemporary method of decorating is to keep most pieces neutral, which allows any small bit of color to really pop. That is the underlying strategy to creating a sophisticated table setting using a single bit of color in a greenery sprig. Evergreen, eucalyptus, boxwood, or any other sort of green stem will work well in this setting, tied gently with a natural jute twine to create a neat little festive bundle.

Notable elements for Greenery & Twine:

  • White dinner plate
  • White dinner napkin, folded into eighths and centered vertically on plate
  • Greenery stem on napkin, tied with natural jute twine
  • Symmetric flatware
  • Stemless wine glass

The Simple Gift – This season, focus on giving meaningful gifts of experiences. Dinner together is a gift; treat it that way! Tie a string or ribbon around the napkin so that dinner guests can unwrap their gift at the start of your shared meal. This creates a lovely nuance at the onset, and it will create a special memory that will last forever.

Notable elements for The Simple Gift:

  • White dinner plate
  • White dinner napkin, folded into eighths (square) and centered on plate
  • Greenery stem on napkin, tied with a festive red or red-and-white string or ribbon, like a gift box
  • Symmetric gold flatware
  • Stemless wine glass

The Simple Gift, version 2 – Set your table in a simple yet slightly off-center way to bring a smile to guests. This is an easy way to bring a bit of informality and warmth to your Christmas dining without sacrificing taste and elegance. This type of setting would work well for a dessert setting, as dessert is often easier to eat with a single utensil. (Fork can, of course, be substituted for a spoon or whatever here.)

White Christmas – Care for a stroll down Classic Christmas Lane? Pull out your white(ish) dinnerware, and embrace the simplicity that is inherent in monochromatic table settings. White is particularly apropos for Christmas dining, although a festive flair comes through with at least one thing shiny, one thing red, and one thing green. A white placement expands the setting’s visual real estate, which contrasts dramatically and beautifully against a moody tablecloth or other surface.

Notable elements for White Christmas:

  • White placemat in same shape as dinnerware
  • White dinner & salad plates
  • White/light linen dinner napkin
  • Gold fork & spoon
  • Stemless wineglass
  • Small greenery (e.g., boxwood wreath) with red berries pick

Peppermint Pinecone – Don’t be afraid to glance outside your front door for your Christmas table setting inspiration. Pinecones are a gorgeously textural, organic, and shapely addition to many décor situations. Wrapped in a simple red-and-white ribbon or string, the pinecone looks dressed for the occasion, set off dramatically by the framing of a matte black salad plate.

Notable elements for Peppermint Pinecone:

  • Off-white/natural dinner plate & bowl
  • Matte black salad plate sandwiched between them
  • Natural linen napkin
  • Gold flatware, grouped all to the left
  • Pinecone, cleaned and wrapped with red-and-white bakers’ string or ribbon
  • Clear glass cup

Rustic Chic – For those of you lucky enough to have a rustic dining table, consider leaving it exposed this Christmas during your holiday dining. Play off the perfect imperfection that a worn wooden tabletop provides with simple white dinnerware. Add a stem of green and a few berries for color, but otherwise let the tabletop be your decorator. Sometimes we look past the mark in our decorating efforts, when less really would be more.

Notable elements for Rustic Chic:

  • Off-white/natural dinner plate and bowl, stacked and centered
  • Neutral/white napkin
  • Gold flatware, heavier on the left side of the place setting
  • Green stem on the right side of the place setting to provide a little balance
  • Red berries sprinkled near the top of the plate
  • Clear glass drinking cup

Season of Love – It doesn’t take much, during this time of year, to remind us what Christmas should be about. Love. Pure and simple. Create that reminder in its poignant simplicity and straightforwardness with a bit of string in a heart shape on your Christmas dinner plate. A stem of blue spruce (or similar) keeps us well grounded in the present holiday.

Notable elements for Season of Love:

  • White dinner plate
  • White napkin
  • Gold flatware, positioned traditionally
  • Evergreen sprigs (shown: blue spruce), loosely tied together with a length of red-and-white bakers’ twine, the ends of which form a heart on the plate
  • Clear glass drinking cup

Roaming Wreath – There’s nothing that says each place setting needs to look exactly the same. If you have a small Christmas item, such as a greenery wreath wrapped in festive ribbon or string, consider placing it uniquely at each place setting on the table. Children especially will enjoy this subtle shift and will feel special with their own individual positioning. It’s sort of like Elf on the Shelf, but easier. And more sophisticated.

Notable elements for Roaming Wreath:

  • A wreath (or other small festive item), enough for each place setting
  • Woven placemat
  • Stacked dinner plate, salad plate, and bowl in neutral colors
  • Gold flatware, arranged traditionally
  • Stemless wineglass

Move the wreath with each place setting, and arrange it in a slightly different way. Placement options include: above the fork, outside the spoon, inside the bowl, around the flatware, next to the drinking glass, etc. Get creative!

Modern Mixup – Bring out your inner Picasso this Christmas by really mixing things up at the Christmas dinner table. Think in the abstract and, without using any extra items, create an artistic masterpiece at each place setting. Flatware can (should!) be moved, separated, angled, flipped. Napkins should break tradition in placement and layout. Drinking glasses work well in unexpected positions. It’s a great ice breaker and conversational piece, if nothing else.

Notable elements for Modern Mixup:

  • Natural dinner plate
  • Flatware, separated and placed in non-traditional format (e.g., upside-down spook, fork already on plate, knife perpendicular to top of plate, etc.)
  • White napkin, positioned partially on/off plate at an unexpected angle
  • Clear drinking glass
  • Single greenery stem

However you choose to set your Christmas table this year, we hope you ultimately find joy in the process and in the opportunity to gather with loved ones and celebrate.

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