Create the Perfect Tablescape for Your Holiday Celebrations

Two Chicago design experts share insight into creating a breathtaking dining display.

There’s nothing quite like gathering with friends and loved ones to celebrate the holidays. The excitement of the festivities is contagious and these special days provide an opportunity to reconnect with the people that are important to us. These gatherings often happen over meals, and this presents a great opportunity to add a decorative touch to your home.

ESTATENVY connected with Emily Mackie of Inspired Interiors and Kenneth Walter of Gray | Walter for insight into creating a breathtaking tablescape.

Mix & Match

“Don’t be afraid to mix and match your dishes, they do not need to belong to the same set. Do take advantage of the opportunity to use china or crystal that you don’t usually use. This really makes it feel like a special occasion,” said Walter.

To find some truly unique, well-made pieces, he recommends visiting estate sales and garage sales. There is a wealth of quality dishware and decor just waiting to be discovered.

Establish a Visual Hierarchy

“I like to organize my tables in tiers. The center is the tallest piece, then I tier down from there. In this way, the wine glasses serve as a middle tier as they reach each place setting,” said Mackie.

She recommends layering lighting throughout the room. For example, the use of clear white lights is the perfect way to add a pop of visual interest to any corner of the table.

Consider Adding Sculptures

Walter recommends incorporating festive sculptures into the tablescape. These can range from reindeer found in the holiday department to more intricately carved wood centerpieces.

If you’re crafty, go to Michael’s and pick up some styrofoam molds or reindeer or wreaths. You can spray paint these with silver or gold, or add a lot of glitter to make a visual statement,” he said.

Incorporate Metallics

For a religion-neutral look, Mackie recommends incorporating metallics throughout the tablescape. She explained that there is a lot of opportunity to mix the three tones–gold, silver and bronze–to create a breathtaking appearance.

“These add a celebratory look and the individual pieces can be recycled for other holidays throughout the year,” she said.

Step Outside

For those who live in warmer climates, Walter recommends taking advantage of outdoor living space. Set up tables in the backyard with tablecloths, then string lights overhead to create a magical setting.


Add Personal Touches

“I like to go with more meaningful touches,” said Mackie. “I’ll often leave a description of each guest at their place setting and then let everyone guess who it is. These can be descriptions like ‘best sense of humor.’ It’s a great way to spark conversation.”

Personal touches can go a long way in celebrating the people in attendance, as well as the loved ones who were unable to attend. In his holiday blog post, Walter explained that, “having pieces that are meaningful creates personality and depth on your tabletop. It’s a nice way to remember our loved ones who aren’t with us anymore.”