4 Pro-Approved Holiday Table Settings Using the Dishes You Already Own
We gave four design experts a single plate and a challenge: to create a pretty, pulled-together table for the holiday season. Start with the dishes you already own, whether it's classic white plates, traditional dishware, or pastel ceramics. Then, embellish the tabletop with elements sourced from nature (like pinecones collected from around the neighborhood) or candles pulled from around your home. You don't need every detail the pros used, just let these tablescapes serve as inspiration. The most memorable meal will be enjoyed around a table that's all your own.
White Plates: Modern Thanksgiving Table
Natural elements and layers of texture elevate a neutral color scheme, while warm wooden accents prevent it from seeming stark. If you choose to add in color, keep it simple with just one shade (like aqua or yellow). Create a centerpiece of artfully arranged woodland accents, such as pinecones from the backyard and natural feathers from your kids' craft bin. Finish off each setting with a mini wreath (a long sprig of rosemary or thyme tied in a circle) and place card.
“A white plate provides the perfect canvas for a neutral, Scandinavian-inspired table.”
—Camille Styles, founder of camillestyles.com
Bamboo Plates: Organic Holiday Table Setting
Want to avoid doing dishes after the big meal? Start with disposable plates crafted from bamboo. Combine burlap, raw wood, and terra-cotta accessories with jewel-toned glassware, cutlery, and linens to create an enchanting garden-inspired tablescape. These items don’t all have to match—an eclectic assortment enhances the relaxed, boho feel. Go wild with a runner of greenery and autumnal blooms, either selected from your yard or a local farm stand.
“Don’t downplay this disposable dinner plate. Instead, highlight it with a ‘Plant Lady’ theme.”
—Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson, sisters and coauthors of A Beautiful Mess Weekday Weekend Cookbook
Pastel Plates: Preppy Holiday Table Setting
If you have pastel-colored plates, whether mint green or soft pink, they can still work for a holiday table setting if you step away from the traditional color scheme. Ground your design with a few more saturated items, like a piece of burnt orange pottery and a patterned napkin. Incorporate classic elements with a twist: A whitewashed charger and dip-dyed flatware make the arrangement feel more contemporary. Fairy-tale pumpkins (find them at your local grocery or nursery) make a charming centerpiece; add dusty green eucalyptus and in-season fruits to complete the look.
“Your pastel dishes become unexpectedly seasonal when combined with fall fruit and greenery.”
—Roxy Te, founder of Society Social
Traditional Dinnerware: Classic Holiday Table
To keep traditional dinnerware from feeling ultra formal, pair it with more casual items, like fringed napkins and clean-lined, modern glasses. Skip napkin rings and place cards altogether and instead blanket the table with soft candlelight and milky white blooms (choose anemones with a dark center for drama and contrast).
Enhance a simple blue-and-white color scheme with metallic touches, like gilded flatware and gold-rimmed chargers.
“Balance out the formality of a traditional patterned plate with some laid-back elements.”
—Nicole Gibbons, Interior Designer