Christmas place settings to take your festive table to the next level

Impress guests with professional looking place settings this December

Christmas dining table with wire brush trees
(Image credit: Marks and Spencer)

With the dining room at the centre of the action over the festive season, all eyes will be on the table. Wow friends and family with Christmas place settings that look beautifully professional. Just get ready to see your table all over Instagram when people start posting about the day.

Christmas table decoration ideas are having a serious moment this year, and place settings are the easiest way to pull together a stylish look for every guest to enjoy.

Christmas place setting ideas

From elegant, grown-up arrangements, to designs the whole family will love, read on to discover your new favourite ways to lay your table this December.

1. Provide a plant

Christmas table with pear centrepiece and succulents on the place settings

(Image credit: Future PLC)

It's fair to say that succulents are the plant of the moment. They're just about unkillable, meaning that even if you're completely lacking in green thumbs, you can probably keep one alive.

Mini succulents on each place setting not only provide a contemporary take on festive foliage, but act as a thoughtful takeaway gift for your guests. Amp up the seasonal aspect by adding on some plant-safe glitter spray paint to match your Christmas dining room decor.

2. Add a retro touch

Christmas dining table with garland and roses and retro decorations on place settings

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Christmas is a time when we often look back to the past, and when doing this, we sometimes get a little drawn in. Retro-style Christmas decorations are having a definite moment and we're all for it. A cute, quirky tree dec makes the perfect addition to your place settings. Either gift to your guests, or ask them to add to your tree after the meal so everyone feels included.

When thinking out Christmas table centrepiece ideas, go equally as retro, with a classic white-iced Christmas cake and a classic Christmas garland.

3. Consider your materials

Wooden table with wood place mats and baubles in bowl

(Image credit: Lights4Fun)

Sometimes choosing a simple place setting can be just as effective as a more overtly decorative approach - particularly when you're focusing on a material or texture.

Look to nature for a relaxed and earthy inspiration. A thin round of wood becomes a perfect place mat, which is elevated with wonki ware and natural linen napkins. Wooden place holders complete the look.

4. Opt for elegance

White dinner plate with foliage and white flower on napkin

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you're hosting purely for adults, or you just have an especially elegant theme running through your home, then add a sophisticated touch to your Christmas place settings.

Learn how to fold napkins for Christmas to achieve a professional look, then drape on a slender sprig of eucalyptus or fir and top with a flower. For the floral element, ideally choose whatever you're using in either your centrepiece or from your Christmas flower arrangement ideas - both for ease and to create a finished look.

A simple silver bell becomes an ideal place holder - stamp with a pretty festive icon or just handwrite names in your neatest calligraphy.

5. Create cohesion

Dining table with candles and wire brush Christmas trees

(Image credit: Marks and Spencer)

Place settings really don't need to be complicated beasts. Once you have your centrepiece in mind, take out a few distinct elements to act as part of your place setting.

Wire brush trees are a great example, and when guests take their seat, the trees can be moved back into the centre to become part of the dining table forest. Alternatively, baubles could be placed into an already filled centre bowl for a party effect.

6. Mix and match

White tablelcoth on dining table with decoration and orange berries on place setting

(Image credit: Craft Editions)

More can most definitely be more at Christmas. If you can't decide between adding a decoration or some nature to your place settings, then simply add both!

Plain white crockery and tablecloths provide an ideal backdrop for going a little extra up on top. Remember to keep a thread of cohesion with your colourways - fruits or flowers matching embroidery or the decorations, for example.

7. Choose a rustic scheme

Dining table with owl crockery, pinecones and mushrooms

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Rustic Christmas decorating ideas all instantly conjure up a warm and welcoming feel, so bring this approach onto your dining table.

Novelty crockery in woodland scenes are a great starting point for these place settings and this also means that they don't need too many extras. A simple, wooden decoration adds that Scandi-style vibe.

Make sure you stick to a warm palette of russets, golds and browns for a truly rustic theme.

8. Include personal Christmas trees

Place setting with mini Christmas tree and crackers

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We all love a miniature Christmas tree, but why not go even smaller with the tiniest sprig of fir wrapped in burlap? These sweet 'trees' make each place setting, and can either be given as a gift, or included into an arrangement elsewhere in the home once the meal is complete.

9. Add a pop of colour

Place setting with red berry heart and red rose

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If your Christmas place setting is perfectly lovely but just feels as though it's missing something, add a pop of festive red.

Lay a sprig of real berries on each plate, ensuring none fall off in case they're toxic. Alternatively, faux berries on a wire can be easily shaped into a pretty napkin holder or decoration.

10. Layer your crockery

Christmas dining table with reindeer crockery

(Image credit: Matalan)

Add a sense of occasion to your table by catering for every need. Instead of a single dinner plate, work your way right up from the table. Start with a large charger - always a place to add some fun, so choose a metallic or brightly coloured option. Next, add on your place mats (yes, we're doing both - it's Christmas, after all!).

Pop on a dinner plate, side plate and top with a bowl which, since it's unlikely to be used during the meal, can be filled with foliage or baubles for decoration, then taken away when it's time to eat. After a quick rinse, the same bowls can be brought out again for dessert.

11. Be inspired by nature

Rustic christmas place setting with green leaves centerpiece

(Image credit: Etsy)

Bring the outdoors in with a whimsical setting inspired by winter walks. Seasonal foliage from the garden or florist, strewn along the centre of the table, makes a lovely alternative to a fabric table runner, while a ring of greenery around each plate creates the illusion of a lush, mossy place mat.

Continue the theme with nature-motif place cards and gifts in little boxes, wrapped in beautiful marbled paper.

12. Take a simple approach

Modern rustic christmas place setting

(Image credit: House of Fraser)

Leaving a wood table uncovered, exposing the grainy surface, conjures up a relaxed feel. Dress with a garland of fir with seasonal berries and add pared-back place settings to balance the look.

‘Capture simple Scandi style with textured crockery and linen napkins,’ says Lois Vincent, home design manager at House of Fraser (opens in new tab). ‘Name tags tied to pretty silver decorations can double up as party favours.’

13. Go for gold

Gold christmas place setting with gold apple ornament, candles, bird ornament and wine glasses

(Image credit: Dobbies)

This lavish look evokes the grandeur of country houses, with its luxe linens, elegant glassware and touches of antique gold. ‘Introduce elements from the British countryside, such as foliage reminiscent of hedgerows,’ says Craig Roman, head of visual merchandising at Dobbies (opens in new tab).

‘Wildlife and garden-themed accessories complete the scheme, including partridge feathers, bird decorations and fruit.’

14. Have some fun

Grey and red christmas place setting

(Image credit: Talking tables)

Little ones will love this playful place setting, complete with house-shaped gift boxes – perfect for hiding sweets and mini baubles. With excitement at an all-time high at this time of the year, we advise keeping your finest crockery for adult-only occasions.

Instead, layer festive paper plates on top of everyday white china to achieve a seasonal feel, while minimising the risk of breakages!

15. Choose a relaxed approach

Red scandi christmas place setting with small pine tree and snow globe

(Image credit: Future PLC)

An informal place setting can look just as chic as a more elaborate look. Mixing styles is key: here, patterns and plains in an array of textures are linked by a co-ordinating colour palette.

Stick to traditional Christmas table decor ideas, at least in terms of the colourways. Classic red, green and white scheme is complemented by a miniature evergreen centrepiece in a felt pot holder – there’s nothing like the smell of fresh spruce to get your guests into the Christmas spirit.

16. Scent with fruit

White modern christmas place setting with orange and white berries on place

(Image credit: Notonthehighstreet.com)

This sophisticated setting appeals to the senses as it smells as Christmassy as it looks. The scent of a clove-studded satsuma, teamed with twinkling tealights, creates an intimate mood.

The fruit also makes a colourful statement amid a crisp all-white scheme. Silver cutlery adds simple elegance and a sprig of faux snowberries a decorative flourish, while an initialised bauble is a thoughtful favour.

17. Add a touch of nostalgia

Christmas place setting with glass bell over small gift

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Glass cloches are everywhere at the moment and we love their nostalgic feel. If you fancy a change from traditional festive colours, you can’t beat rich jewel shades for an opulent look.

Practise your calligraphy and tie handwritten names to the top with luxurious silk ribbon, and place a stylishly wrapped gift underneath as a personalised alternative to traditional crackers.

18. Take a twist on tradition

Red traditional christmas place setting with red and green decor

(Image credit: Marks and Spencer)

Red and green hues never go out of style at Christmas, but for a contemporary twist on tradition, opt for frosted berry decorations and accessories in rustic wood or with metallic finishes.

Recreate the look by embellishing the table with bowls of baubles, mini pine cones, elegant menus and fairy lights – those on invisible wires are our top tip for a sparkling table without clutter.

How do you set up a nice Christmas table?

A lovely Christmas table include enough place settings for all your guests, each with a personalised place holder, cutlery, glassware and crockery. A Christmas centrepiece is a must - either bang in the centre of the table, bud vases scattered along, or a draping fir garland running down the length. Ensure you leave room for candles, serving plates, platters, wine bottles and water jugs. Finally, remember not to overcrowd - guests still need enough space around their place setting to not feel overwhelmed

Where do Christmas crackers go on the table?

Christmas crackers are a fun addition to any festive table. You can set one in the middle of each place setting or on a side plate, if you're using one of the above ideas and don't want to disrupt the effective. Another idea is to pile crackers into a large bowl or platter and allow guests to dig in whenever they want. If you have a large table, make sure there's a bowl towards each end, so everyone feels included.

How do you decorate a Christmas table on a budget?

It's so easy to decorate a Christmas table on a budget. You can use leftover decorations from your tree, or re-use displays from elsewhere in the home. Alternatively, you can forage for seasonal foliage for a striking - and budget! - approach that can last for much longer than the one meal. 'Garland foliage such as fir can be stored in a zip lock bag with a drop of moisture and left somewhere cool to extend its shelf life,' notes Ming Veevers Carter, Founder, Veevers Carter (opens in new tab). 'A garden shed would be ideal and will ensure your greenery keeps for roughly one month - you can reuse each piece when New Year’s Eve rolls around.'

Thea Babington-Stitt is a Content Editor on Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for nearly 10 years. 

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.