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How To & DIY

How to Set the Table for the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again, and for many of us, that means elaborate feasts while gathering with family and friends. If you are having guests over for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, New Year’s, or any other celebration, chances are, you are going to chow down. The beginning to any good meal is a nice table presentation. You’ll want to make sure each guest has exactly what they need to savor every last bite. If you are looking for a semi-formal setting, you will need to know how to set the table for the holidays. Below, find the best way to present dishware to your loved ones in a casual environment.


How to Set the Table for the Holidays

  • Dinner Plate: Place the dinner plate at the center of each place setting. This plate will hold the majority of the festive food, so it should be big enough to hold several servings.
  • Salad Plate: Place the salad plate on top of the dinner plate. This plate should be smaller than the dinner plate, and can be used to hold salad, bread, or other side items.
  • Napkin: Many people like to put the napkin in the center of the plate stack. This creates a uniform symmetry, and looks great for holiday place settings. If you prefer, the napkin can also go to the left under the fork.
  • Fork: Place the fork to the far left of the plate stack. If your dinner is a little bit formal, you may choose to place two forks on the left side of the plate (smaller fork towards the outside), but most informal settings can get by with just one.
  • Knife and Spoon: The knife goes directly to the right of the plate stack, with the blade facing inwards. Place the spoon directly to the right of the knife.
  • Soup Bowl/Bread Plate: The soup bowl goes in the space above the fork. If you aren’t serving soup at your holiday gathering, you can substitute a small bread plate or a small party favor (Our favorite is a decorative candle with place setting tags).
  • Water/Wine Glasses: The water glass and wine glass go in the space above the knife and spoon, with the water glass on the left and the wine glass to the right of it.


As you begin setting your table, you’ll want to ensure the place settings are evenly spaced and flatware is balanced at each setting. Be sure to place dinner plates about two inches from the table’s edge and squarely in front of each chair. Make sure they’re far enough apart to provide sufficient elbowroom — about two feet from plate center to plate center.


You’ll also want to decide if you want a tablecloth or not. A tablecloth can serve as the foundation to build your place settings, and may make your casual dining table look a little more festive and elegant. However, if you want to show off the natural grain of your table’s wood, you can substitute placemats or a runner.

Cute Place Setting Ideas

After you’ve learned how to set a table for the holiday basics, it’s time to get creative! Dress your table up with candleholders and candles, a special centerpiece, napkin rings, or place cards personalized to your guests or for the occasion or season. table-setting-1

Joyful Celebration: This table features festive green fruits, joyful flower arrangements, and metallic accents.


Fall into Autumn: Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any occasion in fall, this setting plays with pinecones, acorns, and glittery bells. Jingle all the way to learn how to set the table for the holidays!


Luck of the Feather: Colorful jewel tones create an eclectic atmosphere for a bountiful feast, such as a large family or New Year’s dinner. Some say that the peacock feather represents luck. Happy New Year!


Whimsical Elegance: Formal with a touch of romanticism, this table showcases adorable chalkboard nameplates, sweet white roses, and silver, snowflake-inspired candles.

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