Beautiful Holiday Tablescape Ideas & Formula

Hi! I'm


I'm a Certified Health Coach, longtime blogger, and host of Elizabeth Eats on YouTube. In addition to writing recipes (I love to eat!), I'm a strong believer that life is too short to settle for anything less than living your best life.


Breakfast IDEAS

Dinner IDEAS



YouTube video

I love a beautiful holiday table, and I also love a fuss-free holiday!

Here’s my formula for setting a beautiful, easy holiday tablescape with ideas for you to use what you already have in your home, and a few ideas if you need to add to your decor.

Click play on the video above to join me at my outdoor table to learn this formula, or keep reading for the details and suggestions to create an elegant, cohesive, and easy holiday tablescape.

The last few years I haven’t bought anything new and stuck to what I have. This year, I’m sprucing up my table with a few new purchases (all linked below!). Every year is different, so take a minute to think if it’s best to use what you have or if it’s time to freshen things up.

Here’s a shot at my outdoor table with a plum red runner and neutral napkins (both Crate and Barrel):

Holiday Tablescape Ideas with runner and candles

And another option if you want to bring in deeper colors:

Elizabeth Rider Indoor Tablescape green runner

The Formula for a Beautiful (and Fuss-Free) Table

Creating a beautiful holiday tablescape doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s my easy formula:

  1. Start with the Largest Thing You Have (Often a Runner): Begin by laying down a table runner. If you prefer, you can use a tablecloth as well (of course put that down first). I like a long linen or gauzy table runner that I can set bunched up a little so I don’t have to worry about ironing it. This will serve as the foundation for your tabletop decorations.
  2. Add Medium-Sized Short Vases: Place 2-4 medium-sized vases on the table, ensuring that they are low enough for people to see across the table. Fill them with pillar candles a few inches shorter in width than the vases, short-cut flowers, or greenery to add an elegant touch. This is a good option if you need to get these, and you can usually find them at a florist, too.
    • Tip: Use unscented candles so the scent doesn’t compete with the food. A nice holiday-scented candle in your main room is always nice, but avoid scented candles at the table where you’re eating. Of course, always consider safety when using candles on your tablescape. Never leave them unattended.
  3. Incorporate Greenery: Enhance your runner by adding eucalyptus stems or evergreen stems throughout, tucking in the ends in the folds of the runner. This will bring a natural and festive feel to your tablescape. Fresh stems are generally inexpensive at the grocery store, but you an also use faux stems if you have some.
  4. Fill in with Votives: Fill in any empty spaces with votive candles. I got this set of glass votive holders and this set of votives on Amazon—both are very inexpensive and can be reused in many ways! Before lighting any candle, remember to trim the wicks to 1/4 inch for optimal burning.
  5. Dress Up with Charger Plates and Plates: If you have charger plates, place them on the table first to add an extra layer of elegance. Then, arrange your plates on top of the chargers. Charges are a great way to elevate your everyday plates (no need to buy fancy plates that you use once per year, unless that’s your vibe!). I’ve had my charges forever and can’t remember where they’re from, but this is a good option if you’re looking for some. These are also pretty.
  6. Elevate with Cloth Napkins: For an elevated feel, use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins on holiday. You can either set them in a napkin ring on each plate or fold them to create a pocket for the silverware. To make your napkins versatile for any holiday, opt for neutral colors that can be reused throughout the year. This way, you won’t have to worry about matching specific themes or colors. The neutral ones in the photos on this page are from Crate and Barrel, and the green ones are from Amazon — they’re great quality and I’m impressed!
  7. Set the Silverware: Arrange your silverware next to each plate. Typically, forks go on the left and knives and spoons go on the right. But feel free to break the rules! You can set your silverware any way you want. Only put out the silverware needed for what you’re food you’re serving.
  8. If you prefer, you can also leave glasses and stemware near the drinks area so guests can easily grab them as they mingle.

Tips for a Perfect Tablescape

Here are some additional tips to ensure your holiday tablescape is picture-perfect:

  • Choose the Right Table Runner: Look for a linen or gauzy table runner that adds a touch of elegance. Don’t be afraid to let it bunch up slightly for a more relaxed and fuss-free setting. You can find my recommendations for table runners here.
  • Consider Sight Lines: Before finalizing your tablescape, take a seat at different spots around the table to ensure that everyone can see across without any obstructions. Keep decorations at an appropriate height to maintain clear sight lines.
    • For example, this vase is pretty on the table, but it’s too high for dinner:
Elizabeth Rider Indoor Tablescape green runner

Color Ideas:

Let’s talk about color!

In general, neutrals with one or two colors always gives a sophisticated look. However, there are no rules! Use what you love to look at.

  • For a sophisticated look, opt for mostly neutral colors and fabrics: Opt for neutral colors for a set of napkins and your runner and tablecloth that can be reused throughout the year. This way, you won’t have to worry about matching specific themes or colors. I have a set of light beige linen napkins from Crate and Barrel that I use for almost every holiday and dinner party, and also this dark green set that I use on Christmas. (If I was buying fresh, I’d consider the beige or grey in the same set because they are surprisingly high-quality for the price!) We entertain often, so having that neutral set is key to always being able to put together a pretty table. If you have room for it, opt for one neutral set and one set in a color you love. If you’re tight on space, opt for one neutral set of everything and bring the holiday color in with flowers and accents.
  • Bring in holiday color with flowers, the table runner, or the napkins. If you choose a lot of neutrals to use at different holidays and dinner parties, keep one or two runners and/or one set of holiday napkins to add that holiday vibe. Flowers are also a great way to bring in holiday colors.

Here’s the link to my recommendations in my Amazon storefront if you need to acquire anything:

With these simple tips and my fuss-free formula, you’ll have a stunning holiday tablescape that will impress your guests without causing unnecessary stress.

Cheers to creating beautiful memories around the table this holiday season!

Leave A Review + Read The Comments →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Elizabeth

I teach you how to be healthier without extremes, so you can live more and obsess less.

Subscribe now for delicious recipes, inspiration, and ideas to make life better each week:

as seen in:

READ          LATEST


join over 67,000+ readers Getting New Healthy Recipes Every Week

For a limited time, new subscribers get 9 Healthy Recipe eBooks—For FREE!

Claim Your Subscriber Perks!