12 Days of Christmas: Day 4. Tablescapes
Updated: Apr 25
There’s nothing more splendid than sitting down to eat a scrumptious dinner at a table adorned for cheery festivities.
Beautiful linens. Elegant glassware. Lovely plates. Polished silverware. And an exquisite centerpiece. There’s nothing more splendid than sitting down to eat a scrumptious dinner at a table adorned for cheery festivities.
...sounds so expensive...
It all sounds so expensive, LOL, but it doesn’t have to be. A beautiful tablescape doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Although, honestly when you first start to collect the different components needed it might feel like it is. To keep this tablescape guide on the more affordable side, I did my best to find the best values. I included sites like Amazon, Wayfair, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Macy's.
Table Setting Staples
If you love to host, then you already know that there are some basic pieces that you can mix and match to maximize your tablescapes. Don't be boggled down by the notion that everything has to be matchy matchy. That also means that you do not always have to coordinate all the elements of your tablescape with the season per se. When you first start investing on your tablescape components, I suggest that you look for pieces that can easily work for several occasions. For example, the tablecloth you bought for Christmas can definitely be used for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner alone with your significant other. It can also be used for a sophisticated gathering with friends on an Autumn night. Floral centerpieces from a St. Patrick's Day shindig can be incorporated into a Christmas dinner centerpiece. See what I'm saying? But before you even think of putting down the tablecloth, you need to first establish a theme beyond the occasion. Yes, it's Christmas, but do you want a more traditional set up? Romantic? Festive? Once you've established the theme, we can start.
So what are these staples? Keep reading!
Reminder: not every element has to be used every time!
Table linens soften the look and feel of a tablescape. They work as a backdrop and anchor for the rest of the setting. I can't say this enough, and I will probably say it a few more times, you can mix and match any pieces to create a masterpiece. You can use a tablecloth alone. You can use a tablecloth with a runner over top. You can use a runner on it's own. You can add placemats. There are so many ways to dress a table with only a few key pieces!
What are table props? A table prop is anything that is not linen and anything that is not to be used for eating or drinking. Flowers, candles, candleholders, charger plates, place card holders, figurines...all table props.
Though usually not part of a tablescape, serveware is something I believe in investing in. I'm talking about the serveware you typically serve food items that do not need warming...a salad, maybe a desert and most likely bread. Realistically you're probably only setting one to three of these food items and since they are usually on the larger size compared to everything else on the table, your guests will probably take notice. So find some you really love and treat yourself. Another piece of serveware that help dress up your table are salt & pepper shakers and small pieces like a butter plate or a small sugar bowl. I love a crystal sugar bowl! Even if you don't have the need for sugar at the table, they are such a cute addition.
I might be alone on this, but I think that most people when they first move out on their own are guilty of buying a whole dinnerware collection from Target. I'm definitely guilty! Has that happened to you? Let's stop doing that, LOL. Buying one whole collection limits the possibilities. Like with any item that you are collecting, whether it's toy cars or Funko POPS!, you have to take your time and not buy everything in a rush. Slow and steady wins the race, no? For basic dinner plates, the Dollar Tree is an awesome place to start. They actually have all kinds of things that'll help you build your collection without breaking the bank. Dinner plates, salad plates, saucers can all be different kinds but can still be used to create a cohesive look.
For the love of god, don't splurge on forks and knives. They will be all sorts of knocked around in the dishwasher and economical ones are so sturdy that there really isn't any need to go all out. IKEA has some of the best sets for such affordable prices. For different designs, check out Amazon.
When researching crystal glassware like the ones in the pic below, I thought I was going to have to include some expensive a** sh*t because hello! crystal! But remember Dollar Tree? I came across the most beautiful and cheap! crystal wine goblets. For. One. Dollar. I need the gasping emoji right here! You can really have a lot of fun with glassware. You can used different heights and textures to easily add dimension.
Now that we've established the elements of a tablescape, lets get to the fun part!
Keeping in theme with the rest of the series, 12 Days of Christmas, I am going for a traditional tabelscape. To capture the traditional essence, think floral prints and prints. Rich colors. Monotone settings. You can use silverware and glassware with an antique-y vibe to take play up elegance as well.
White tablecloths are classic. But they are also so versatile. I can confidently say you can use a white tablecloth in any setting. If you are not sure where to start, start with a white tablecloth.
This wine beauty can be used for Christmas, Valentine's Day, an Autumn tablescape or for a sophisticated dinner party.
Expressing a little holiday cheer with berries, this placemat can also be used for a casual breakfast.
White cloth napkins are a staple in many tablescapes. And since they are so inexpensive, you will definitely get your money's worth.
Ribbons are so diverse. If you're feeling super fancy, they can be used as place card holders such as in the first picture (they are ties to the Santa Clauses placed over the dinner plates). You can also tie a pretty bow around the napkins. And you can make a more elaborate bow and place them over the dinner plates instead of the Santas.
For an added flair and a little special something, a little figurine like this one does the trick. Don't be afraid to think outside the box!
Once in a while, I will totally splurge on real flowers, like once a year on Valentine's Day. LOL. But for holiday centerpieces, or for year round use, I prefer faux flowers. You don't have to worry about keeping them fresh and preventing them from wilting. I found the best deals on Amazon, there's an array of single flower bundles and fixed arrangements (you can most definitely take these apart to customize and make your own) to choose from.
And to arrange all these florals in, an antique looking planter will give you that added traditional vibe.
Okay, so you do not need this many, LOL. But it's at a good price and whether you have a six seat table or twelve seat table, you can place a few pairs around so that everyone is not reaching all over the place or constantly asking "pass the salt".
If this is not the cutest little thing, I don't know what is. Even if you don't need sugar bowl, you can definitely put a little salad dressing or a sauce in here. Don't confine the uses of an item to its name.
Although we are pretend shopping for a traditional tablescape, don't be afraid to take these pieces into a more modern and contemporary setting.
I just said don't go out and buy a whole matching collection of dinnerware and yet here I am suggesting a whole matching collection of dinnerware...I can feel your eyes rolling! I said what I said, however, in some instances you can be matchy matchy. Repetition is a common theme in traditional or classic decor. It's not out of the ordinary to find that the same print used, lets say, on the wallpaper is also used on the curtains, the linens and even a chair.
Ooooh, she fancy! Just look at that name, giving all the vibes! Not going to lie though, when I first read the name I thought, "crap! can't use, too expensive," but to my surprise...very affordable. Like I mentioned earlier, you can use different sizes and textures to create dimension and add a "rich" quality to your table.
Here is a bigger size and different texture.
Similar ice cream bowls were used to create the tiny decor on each place setting. An speaking of that tiny but impactful decor, you can literally grab ball ornaments and picks from inconspicuous places on your tree and use on your table. Decor hack! No extra money spent. Use what you have! You can go to my 12 Days of Christmas: Day 3. Trimming the Tree blog post to learn where to find the balls and picks.
We need something to eat with, right? And I told you IKEA is where it's at! You can't go wrong with this set. Price and look.
Obsessed! Look at this beauty. This is also another piece that can transition from a traditional scheme to a very glam one. You can mix and match sizes and heights with the options at Pottery Barn.
And finally, to pull the whole look together and set the ambiance. Long, tapered candles. So gorgeous yet so simple and easy. And these are perfect because they are unscented. The last thing your guests want is to be attacked by fragrance right at the dinner table. Let the food have it's moment!
We're done...about time!
Whew! That was a long one! Thanks for sticking around! Okay, I'll stop yelling, LOL. There's a lot of information here that can be used for any tablescape. It can be overwhelming but I find that working on one thing at a time is best.
Whether you're an avid hosting queen or a "this year is my turn to cook" kinda girl, creating a swoon worthy tablescape is a marathon, not a sprint.
What are your favorite tablescape themes?
Don't forget to check back tomorrow for Day 5, Christmas Dinner. So far the series has been very traditional, American in the decor aspect but I'm keeping the dinner traditional to my heritage. Hey, Christmas is made up of mostly traditions. If you'd like to change things up a bit and get some new ideas, or if you already know you and I share the same heritage and are curious to see my interpretation, then don't miss it!
xoxo, This Stepford Wife