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Publication Date: 2018-12-10

Holiday Table Settings and Designs

Late autumn into winter is the time of dinner parties. With guests gathering for holidays such as Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's, your dining table is probably getting the most use all year. When it comes to table settings, there are plenty of routes to choose to create something beautiful for guests to enjoy over a delicious meal. Take a look at these beautiful table settings and tablescapes from four designers that take designing tables up a notch, ranging from overfilled florals and fruits to refined tables that let the china shine.

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Beckerman Photography

A Plush, Traditional Dining Tablescape Design by Evelyn Benatar, New York Interior Design, Inc.

"I designed almost every room in the house for this young couple with two children. When we got to the dining room, my clients told me that they were ready to break with the low-key modern vibe of the rest of the house. They wanted this room to be a very plush, more traditional dining room for entertaining during the holidays. We upholstered the walls for a sophisticated enveloped feeling and used antiques to bring a unique elegance into the space. The tablescape echoed the impression of the room. We purchased soft, sophisticated pieces that glow. I envisioned the room as an intimate place to invite guests with the warmth of candlelight in mind," says Evelyn Benatar.

"I believe all tables should reflect the room that they are in. If you’re decorating a log cabin in the mountains, it should be very different than a table set on a waterfront beach. Always take a cue from the room and the setting of the house for a smooth, welcoming arrangement. My process is to find tabletop pieces that are fun, inviting and that encourage conversation."

Designed by Denise McGaha. Photography by Stephen Karlisch.

Three Tabletop Designs Incorporating Fresh Florals & Fruits by Denise McGaha Interiors

"I always like to start the design of a table by coming up with the theme. It can be a color scheme or even a floral style. The theme will then dictate the dinnerware, glassware, and flatware. I often imagine the way I would describe the table – 'Holiday Wonderland' is an example and then it would include fresh greens and sparkly ornaments placed down the table. To finish it off, I always add place cards as a personal touch," says Denise McGaha.

"This table is more of a formal look. I was going for a glamorous feel. The fresh oranges were added for color and texture. The dinnerware and chargers add to that formality. Cake stands, crystal obelisks, natural trees, and the mother-of-pearl box add interest at varying heights."

Designed by Denise McGaha. Photography by Stephen Karlisch.

"Although it depends on the type of dinner you are hosting, I often imagine the table as a clean slate and I don’t ever create the same place setting. There are too many options and the style is dictated by the food, the people, and the formality of the evening. It is always fun to reference the design of the dining room and incorporate some of the colors that are in the space, but that’s about as far as I go," says McGaha.

"This outdoor space is more of a casual table setting. The centerpiece is a mix of faux florals and real eucalyptus leaves. I added the blue and white vases to create some interest in the center of the table. It also added to the more laid back feel. I then included home accessories to the table setting to show how you can use items you have that aren’t necessarily holiday focused."

Designed by Denise McGaha. Photography by Stephen Karlisch.

"The highlight of this table is the centerpiece, which is made up of lanterns with candles, a garden stool, fresh florals, and some acorn accents. Since the centerpiece is the star here, I wanted to keep everything else minimal and rustic. The white dinnerware against the natural chargers and table keep this tablescape looking fresh!"

By Inspired Interiors

Making Holiday Memories At the Table, by Emily Mackie, Inspired Interiors

"I typically recommend with a table arrangement, start with the center of the table as the tallest point. For holiday decorating, this can be a miniature Christmas tree or a bunch of poinsettias or if it's Hannukah, a large Menorah with candles. If they don't have anything tall, you can always stack books and put greenery below it to hide the books and tier your way down with miscellaneous things."

By Inspired Interiors

"In general, I think about the experience that everyone's having and how the design makes everyone comfortable. I guess I don't think as much about the decorations, but I think more about the moments it's creating and making those moments indelible with games, people drinking wine and putting together a puzzle, or playing a fun game of charades. The decor is always important but I spend less time on decor and more on making something memorable. This could be a beverage cart, or a specialty drink, or a fun eggnog or drink station. I think less about the ornaments, ribbons and florals. It's more about the moments between each other and the memories you create. I do something fun underneath someone's seat. Maybe there is something about the namecards, or something fun under the napkin. Candles are always big in making a moment. Beverages are always big in making a moment. For me personally, as a brand, we talk about 'Daring to Live,' and this has to do with carving out solid memories."

"Fall Fete" for Laura U, Inc. Photo by Kerry Kirk.

A Team Effort to Create a Glamorous "Fall Fete" for Laura U, Inc.

"My styling process typically starts with inspiration and my color palette. Whether it’s the occasion, something I saw in my travels, or just a fab image I saw on Instagram, I envision a perfectly designed moment and build from there. Once my inspiration is solid, I then seek out the experts to help me pull it all together!" says Laura Umansky or the beautiful outdoor table scene that features a lighting fixture from Arteriors. "First, I call my friend Courtney Paddock of Little Coterie (a Houston-based design and event management company). She was the mastermind of this particular spread! I offered the setting and she pulled together all the elements necessary for a table arrangement that wows! Florals are key and these were arranged by Maxit Flower Design, also here in Houston." 

"Fall Fete" for Laura U, Inc. Photo by Kerry Kirk.

"As an interior designer, I always consider the environment. Where does the natural light come in? What is the vista beyond that window? And then I work to bring that indoors. The same can be said for a table arrangement. You must use the surroundings and then incorporate them into the design. Now that isn’t to say that you can’t mix styles! A collected arrangement works as well as one prescribing to any particular look," says Umansky.

Guests pictured are Amy Margolin, Laura Umansky, Courtney Paddock, and Nancy Bihlmaier. Photo by Kerry Kirk.

"This setting all started when one of my favorite photographers, Kerry Kirk, told Courtney Paddock, the event planner, that she wanted to hang a chandelier from a tree. That was her inspiration! Knowing that she needed great people to pull it off, our 'Fall Fete' was born. The goal was to put all these amazing, creative women in one space and let them show off their talents. Amy Margolin, who provided the gorgeous chandelier above our table, is owner of M&M Lighting, where I source many fixtures for client projects. Nancy Bihlmaier is an artist who created the custom placards. And Kelli Bunch of KB Table put together a delicious menu. Like any great design, there is a team that makes it all happen!"

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