Christmas table decoration ideas for a showstopper of a festive meal

Make it a Christmas to remember with our ideas on how to decorate your table for the big day

The table is where one of the biggest events of the festivities comes into play, so make sure yours is looking the part. From elegant place settings to all-out party Christmas table decoration ideas, there's a style to suit every home for the holidays.

Get ready to welcome friends and family in this year and display all of your fabulous Christmas ideas - just be prepared for the food to take second place.

Christmas table decoration ideas

'Tablescaping is a great way to express your personality and inject individuality into the home at Christmas,' says Rosie Ward, Creative Director at Ward & Co (opens in new tab). 'This year, many of us are hoping to go big with our festive scenery, pulling out all the stops as we finally get to enjoy time together and celebrate around the table.'

1. Add a personalised touch

Gold tray on dining table with personalised labels

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We're all used to place settings at formal gatherings, but make sure you enhance the sense of occasion by including them at your Christmas table. If you're having drinks before dinner, or will be moving to another room after eating, then consider attaching the name tags to ribbons.

These tags can be quickly and easily handmade in line with your Christmas dining room ideas design. Once your guests have been seated, encourage them to tie the ribbon around the base of their glass as a helpful way to identify glassware as people start to move around the home.

2. Make impact with simplicity

Berries and pomegranate christmas table setting on white plates

(Image credit: Neptune)

Berries and pomegranate brighten a simple table setting. Use clementines and physalis if you prefer zesty orange tones. These fruits will add impact to plain white china and neutral table linens.

Fruits and berries make a wonderful addition to any other rustic Christmas decorating ideas which you may be using.

3. Use festive flatware

Dining table with lanterns and Christmas flatware

(Image credit: George Home)

Layer Christmas-themes crockery for each place setting - a festive jumper-style snowflake design will never date! Team these with tartan placemats and crisp white table linen, both of which you can continue using well after the festivities are over.

To add a touch of texture and personality, make sure you think about coasters and placemats just as you do the crockery and glassware.

4. Combine flames with fresh produce

Dining table with foliage, fruit and tapered candles

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'Let there be light!,' say the teams at Nyetimber (opens in new tab) and Lay London (opens in new tab). 'A simple way to elevate the table at home is with glowing candles or lanterns. Tall, glowing dinner candles in varying heights on the table adds a party mood. A colour-combo of candles can look sumptuous and liven up a simpler setting.'

Similarly, the flowers and foliage you choose can have a real impact. 'Flowers make the table sing. These could be sprawling, banquet-like vines, or vases of blossomy hydrangeas in snow white. By picking out colours in the tableware for the florals, it really brings the scheme together. A quick cheat is having bowls of pomegranates or clementines on the table, for pops of bright colour.'

5. Choose an Art-Deco style

Place setting decorated with blue feathers

(Image credit: Future PLC)

6. Go greener

Place setting with fabric wrapped present

(Image credit: Toast)

Presents are always a lovey touch to bring to a Christmas table but now, more than ever, it's time to look at more eco-friendly ideas.

'I like to bring warmth to the table with a Furoshiki table gift at each placing, which are the perfect alternative to crackers and can be re-used infinite times, making them a more sustainable option,' says Judith Harris, Head of House & Home at TOAST (opens in new tab).

'Never underestimate the excitement of leaving little keepsakes for guests on the table,' say the teams at Nyetimer and Lay London. 'As it’s the festive season, you might add velvet bow napkin ties, candy-stripe bags of humbugs or ribbon-tied baubles at each place. No matter how small, guests will feel gleeful at their surprise, festive token.'

7. Make it work harder

Dining table laid for Christmas breakfast

(Image credit: Marks & Spencer)

If you're decorating your table for Christmas, then it seems rather a shame to only use it for the one meal. Of course, many people adapt it slightly to use for a New Year's setting, but that's not all you can do.

Bring a true sense of occasion to your home, and add something extra to your Christmas countdown by setting the dining table for a festive breakfast, too. Some themed crockery can take the place of any more impressive or delicate centrepiece you're bringing in the main event. Keep things simple so it's easy to switch out when it's time to prep for turkey time.

8. Welcome the outside in

Christmas table with greenery

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dan Duchars)

9. Set the tone with a muted palette

neutral Christmas place setting

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dan Duchars)

Style a table filled with foliage and earthy toned textures to create a welcoming grounded essence to your festive celebrations. A muted colour palette helps to avoid overwhelming the scene, providing an understated elegant decorating scheme. Lay the table with considered crockery and glassware, interspersed with draped and potted festive foliage, buds and sprigs. Simple, sophisticated and stylish.

10. Decorate with warm and inviting shades

Christmas dining table in red and amber tones

(Image credit: Future PLC / Max Attenborough)

Draw guests to the table with an alluring pull of festive shades. Get in the mood for entertaining with a dining room decorated in rich mulberry, gold and spice colours to conjure up the essence and spirit of Christmas.

Dress the table with simple dinnerware and create a runner of foliage down the middle to add a comforting touch of nature.

11. Make your own crackers

Homemade cracker on Christmas place setting

(Image credit: Future PLC / Max Attenborough)

A little goes a long way when it come to decorating the Christmas table. This year why not make your own crackers? To save on budget and waste, because both are much-needed at this time of the year. Plus, who doesn't love having a go at Christmas craft ideas? Aside from the bang of pulling a cracker, there's nothing you'll miss from making your own.

Simply place a treat inside a cardboard roll, wrap crepe paper or even fabric scraps around, then tie the ends with ribbon. You could even write your own jokes for inside, simply ask Google for the best cracker jokes.

12. Set up a drinks station

Drinks station with Christmas theme and olives

(Image credit: Future PLC / Max Attenborough)

Whatever the situation is for Christmas this year, one thing's for sure...drinks will be required. Whether a Zoom celebration or a small number gathered still go all out and set up a dedicated drinks station.

Concoct classic cocktails with the help of a stylish home bar. Blend cocktails beautifully in delicate glass beakers with the aid of a handy mixologist set. Your Christmas party ideas have only just begun...

13. Welcome nature to the table

Christmas place setting ideas with a fresh pomegranet on the plate

(Image credit: Future PLC / Max Attenborough)

Embrace the beauty of nature, beyond that of foliage and fresh flowers. Plump for seasonal fruits to help add a touch of colour to place settings.

With so many colours derived from nature, it's a fabulous way to tie in all the accent colours that may already be present around the table, from textiles to stoneware. Plus a simple staged fruit for place settings is far more cost-effective than many other alternatives.

14. Add finesse with statement foliage

Christmas table decorations in a dark blue room

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Don't underestimate the power of flowers, and they don't have to be overly festive to still make the right impression. We've opted for beautiful hydrangea blooms to make a bold centrepiece that isn't particularly festive, and yet it works. Whatever foliage you favour keep it in the same colour palette as your decorating scheme to tie it in seamlessly.

Sprigs of the same flowers are intertwined into the tree and on the metal wreath to create a co-ordinated look.

15. Enhance with reflective materials

Orange Flower in the middle of a table for Christmas dining

(Image credit: Future PLC / Maxwell Attenborough)

Choose vessels that enhance your chosen foliage. Here warm sprigs of orange, yellow and pink flowers are off-set by a simple brass vase – adding a simple touch of glam to the table. While metallics also help to pick up light, reflecting a warming ambience around the surrounding table. so simple, yet so effective.

'When it comes to creating your arrangement, remember not to add too much height and therefore block your guests’ views,' says Ming Veevers Carter, Founder, Veevers Carter (opens in new tab). 'When organising your arrangement, sit down in a chair so you can see clearly and gauge the right height.'

16. Dot homemade candle bowls around the table

Glass vase with water and tea lights as a christmas table decoration

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dan Duchars)

Create your own festive lighting with candle bowls. Half fill a footed glass bowl with water and add floating candles. Place in a shallow glass dish and arrange sprigs of rosemary, snowberries and larch cones to create a woodland centrepiece.

17. Adorn the table with homemade mini trees

Christmas tree table decorations for Christmas dining

(Image credit: Future PLC)

18. Look to the north for decor inspiration

Glass dome over stars as a Christmas table decorations

(Image credit: Future PLC / Paul Raeside)

Use cool wintery colours and icy glassware for a relaxed Scandi-style Christmas table. Stack white and smoky grey plates topped with gorgeous glass bell jars filled with treats or rustic star-shaped decorations, alternating the two colours around the table.

For informal dining and a pared-back look, eschew a tablecloth in favour of a rustic linen table runner and matching napkins in a textured taupe. Finish the scheme with frosted glasses wreathed in eucalyptus, foraged berries and woodland finds.

19. Keep it classic with country style

Christmas place setting with personalised nametag, patterned plates and foliage

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Brittain)

Mix traditionally festive colours of red and green with cute country-style touches for a warm Christmas look. Start by dressing the table in tartan and plain tablecloths for colour and texture. Add natural rush placemats, wood-handled cutlery and a mix of pretty candle holders for a natural theme and stack patterned plates with a contrasting colour to add interest.

Finally, create a name holder from threading nuts, herbs and berries into a garland and dress a cracker in an embroidered linen napkin.

20. Pick a traditional colour palette

Red berry and candle themed christmas table display

(Image credit: Future PLC / Simon Scarboro)

Give your dining room Nordic charm with crisp stripes and checks in red and white. Add snow-white highlights with ceramics and candles. Bring it all together with the gleam of glass and silver, and scarlet-berried greenery. Use striped ribbon to tie decorations to guests’ chairs and dress the table with a red and white striped cloth.

Top sparkling silver place mats with gingham check napkins and go for white tableware with green and red decoration and cranberry-coloured glassware. Make it all shimmer and shine with plenty of candlelight.

21. Go for striking shades of blue

Christmas table decorations in blue with nametags

(Image credit: Future PLC / Paul Raeside)

Mix rose gold metallics and soft velvet in midnight jewel tones for an effortless yet luxe Christmas table setting. Inky indigo tableware contrasts perfectly with warm copper.

Choose a cutlery set with a streamlined minimal design to really show of the beauty of the burnished metal and match to a hammered-effect copper coaster and button details on the table runner.

22. Get creative with cookies

Christmas tree made from cookies in the centre of a decorated table

(Image credit: Future PLC / Jan Baldwin)

Create a charming Christmas table centrepiece with a playful biscuit tree. Here, elaborately iced festive treats are strung with ribbon and hung from the branches of a vintage metal stand – a mug tree or jewellery stand will serve just as well.

Wreath the base in fresh foliage and add a touch of sparkle with gold accents on champagne glass and a nut dish. It’s a lovely way to decorate your table between sit-down dinners.

23. Simply set the scene with white and foliage

Foliage on the middle of a Christmas table decoration

(Image credit: Robert Welch)

For any Christmas table, a smart white backdrop will give the room a real sense of occasion and sophistication. Ensuring your staple table elements are pristine gives you a perfect base to build upon. A neutral base also ensures that key dining elements, such as cutlery place settings and serveware are highlighted within the scheme.

Flowers, foliage and candles in complementary colours will help to create an eye-catching centrepiece, and really bring a sense of the season indoors, without being obtrusive.

Faux options can be just as stunning as fresh foliage and also allow you to enjoy the decorations for longer. Try pairing the soft green tones of faux eucalyptus intertwined with dark berries, thistles and subtle fairy lights.

24. Warm your cockles

Hot drinks station with drink me tag on a bottle of red liquor

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Brittain)

Celebrate the completion of a bracing winter walk with a hot drinks table set up outside. A batch of hot toddy adds a deep ruby glow to the table, labelled with the tempting ‘Alice in Wonderland’ invitation. Keep some extra boiling water in a cheering thermos for top ups and pile up the fruit and nuts for a quick pick-me-up before supper.

Decorate the table with fresh fruit, foliage and feathers for a hint of rustic country charm.

25. Embrace Victoriana

Christmas table decorations with a gold and brown theme

(Image credit: Future PLC / Jan Baldwin)

Go all out and create a dessert side table laden with sweet treats and spicy mulled wine in homage to the great Victorian Christmas tradition. To set the scene in a neutral dining room, create a festive focal point with a homemade garland of pecan nuts and an oversized bauble.

Add a miniature tree, decorated in the same nut brown colours to one end of the table and choose vintage inspired tableware to complete the look.

26. Give a nod to Narnia

White Christmas Narnia themed table decortions

(Image credit: Future PLC / Paul Raeside)

Be inspired by the majesty of a winter snowscape with a white and silver Christmas table scheme. Create Narnia-inspired centrepieces with glass hurricane lanterns, miniature fir trees and heaps of fake snow.

Play with scale by filling different sizes and create a tangle of silver winterberries down the centre of the table. Finish the look with frosted glass and grey candlesticks dotted around.

27. Go dark and dramatic

Christmas place setting on decorated table with figs

(Image credit: Future PLC / Paul Raeside)

Make the most of a dark stone table top to create a striking monochrome scheme with blush accents. Mix black and white patterned plates with marble serving platters and a soft grey charger plate to add to the contrasting tones. Choose modern amber glassware in a simple design, shell pink napkins and copper touches for a luxurious twinkle.

A small wrapped gift makes a thoughtful name setting and finishes the look.

How do you lay a table for Christmas?

Interior designer and influencer, Louise Roe (opens in new tab), lets us in on her step-by-step guide.

  1. Use one item to kick-start an idea - Whether that’s an old candlestick, some bright wine glasses, or even a vintage gravy boat! It’s a great way to build a theme
  2. Think about the table in layers - I like to start with the tablecloth, then add the plates and glasses, and finally the flowers.
  3. Get personal - Custom, bespoke pieces on a tabletop really make a meal extra special. Having a family member’s name engraved, or a special phrase or message, is such a beautiful touch when hosting.I always plan around the place settings themselves, which I love to personalise to each of my guests, using items from my Personalised Picks edit on eBay (opens in new tab).
  4. Think outside the box - don’t just shop in the tabletop section, but decorations and toys work too. I stole a few of my daughter's wooden Nutcracker soldiers to add to each place setting last Christmas! Baubles dotted around the centre of the table look fabulous too.
  5. Don’t hide the napkins - Be creative with how you show them off - fold them on top of the plate, inside the glass, or tie a little ribbon around them - that’s my favourite look.
  6. Keep vases low - It’s important guests can see each other across the table, so cut flowers shorter. It actually looks best having colour lower to the table. I love a mix of jam jars and little coloured vases.
  7. Make it seasonal, but with a twist - I love using colours from the time of year, but not making it too predictable. For example, one festive tabletop is a mix of tonal greens.
  8. I’m a maximalist, so more is more - You really can’t go wrong, just have fun.

How do you make a Christmas tablescape?

'Christmas tables should be joyful and fun, with a little glamour.,' say the teams at Nyetimber and Lay London. 'You can create an exciting colour scheme for the table beyond the classic ‘green and red’ and add a festive feel by mixing in golden tones and velvet textures. "Tablescaping" has become a widely known term and a popular trend, with creativity at the table flourishing thanks to everyone spending more time at home. Now that we can host loved ones once again, people are taking extra care over presentation for long-awaited moments shared with friends and family.'

One of the biggest looks of the year has to be the Scandi style. 'Less is more - Scandi is the perfect theme for the low key host due to its limited colour palette and minimal accessories,' says Rosie Ward. You can utilise items you likely already have in your cupboards and fill in the gaps with locally sourced or faux foliage. Festive greenery should be the star of the show. You can easily forage for sprigs in the garden, on a walk or use offcuts from the Christmas tree. Two or three shorter pieces can be arranged together down the centre of the table to create the look of one single garland, just make sure to hide any cut ends within the foliage.'

'Pine cones make a lovely addition and can be nestled amongst the foliage to build volume and texture.
Think ‘hygge’ and fill your space with cosy light and earthy tones. A natural linen tablecloth can be layered with rattan placemats or charger plates and simple clear crystal wear. Intersperse cream or white candles amongst the foliage and consider using a mixture of taller candlesticks, tealights and chunky pillar candles to create drama and variety.'

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.