Entertaining can be stressful enough, especially around the holidays.  Give yourself a break and don’t worry about your holiday dining decor.  Make holiday entertaining a breeze by using these 3 tips to keep dining decorating simple and stress free.

But first, a refresher.

In 5 Steps to Perfect Table Settings for the Holidays and Beyond, I provided 3 basic rules to dine by:

  1. Start with simple white dishes.
  2. Use nice silverware that’s timeless.
  3. Use basic but nice glassware.

Then I went into details on how to set the perfect table for any occasion.  To recap:

  1. Choose your base layer (i.e. tablecloth, runner, chargers, all of the above, none of the above).
  2. Choose your centerpiece & accessories.
  3. Decide on a formal or informal setting.
  4. Assess and adjust.
  5. EAT, DRINK, and ENJOY!

Now if you follow those guidelines once, making the transition from 1 holiday to the next is easy and totally stress free.  You might actually have fun with it!

Have a look at one of my holiday tables and I’ll show you how I went from a formal table setting for a large group for Thanksgiving to a semi-formal setting for just the immediate family for Christmas in just 3 steps.

Holiday Table Settings

So what are the 3 steps to quickly update your dining decor?

1. Adjust seating

In this case, there were more guests for Thanksgiving than for Christmas.  So we went from 8 place settings down to 6.

2. Swap the base layer

When the table is really nice and still durable, I like to use runners (or no table linen at all) so that the table can still be seen.  You can choose something that is seasonless to use throughout the year up to and even including Thanksgiving, then swap it out for Christmas.

3. Change the centerpiece & accessories

Now comes the fun part.  Express yourself!  If you’re not using the table for a sit down dinner, consider using a dramatic centerpiece that makes a bold statement.  Casually serving swanky apps and drinks – set up a couple of stations around the perimeter of the table so guest can linger, connect, and admire your decor.

Christmas Table Setting

If your dining table will actually be used for family and friends to sit and eat, make your centerpiece & accessories simple and low profile so everyone can see and talk to each other. Still keep it pretty and let your style shine, especially at Christmas when things should be at least a little sparkly.

Don’t forget about the kids!

Don’t think you have to spend a lot of money buying new decorative items for every occasion.

My final tip is don’t think you have to spend a lot of money going out and buying new items for every occasion. If you do need to buy new items focus on a few key pieces and scour stores like World Market, Target, HomeGoods, for unique items at any price point.  

Even the dollar store can have some great little accessories.  That dollar store can be tricky though – look for simple glass items such as candle holders and votive holders that can be transformed into something spectacular. Sometimes DIY projects turn into the best décor items – spray paint can be your best friend, just make sure you know what look you’re going for so you don’t end up spending more time and money in the end.

Christmas table setting

If all else fails, there’s an exclusive little shop called Your Own Home.  Everything there is a unique 1 of a kind find and has a story to tell.  The prices can’t be beat – can’t get much better than FREE – and the return policy is so loose you can take things back & forth as often as you want.

Whatever you choose, remember to have fun with it.

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