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Dazzling DIY Christmas tablescapes

Sara Elliott is a freelance copywriter, active blogger and passionate interior designer. She has a BA in English, and her gardening blog, The Herb Gardener, received a recent mention in the Blog Watch column of The Wall Street Journal. Y...

Comfort & joy: Christmas tables

Christmas is that wonderful time of year when you can create magic with a little sparkle and lots of enthusiasm. Your Christmas tablescape can be rustic or whimsical, minimalist or majestic. Whatever design elements or styles you choose, your Christmas décor can receive a helping hand from all the hoopla and childlike delight associated with the season. Here are our top tips for creating your best Christmas tablescape ever.

Christmas tablescape

Christmas tablescape tip #1

Coordinate your holiday theme

If you have special china or Christmas tableware you plan to use again this year, you can still make your table distinctive and unique by incorporating a theme into your design. From choosing cardinals for your accent pieces like napkin rings to featuring Christmas pigs, toy trains, reindeer, snowflakes, pinecones or other motifs, refining the elements you use is an effective way to add layers to your design and make it pop. Look for themed etched glass, decorated candles, napkin rings, napkins, tasteful tablecloths, platters and centerpieces that contain coordinated elements.

Christmas tablescape tip #2

Decorate simply and stress less

There's no law that says you have to slave over your Christmas table decor. If Christmas is hectic enough when you're just preparing a meal, you can keep your tablescape simple but still make it spectacular. Sometimes less really is more -- even at Christmas. Try a nice basket centerpiece filled with pine branches, pinecones, ribbon and two classic red, green, silver, gold or white tapers. If you cringe at the idea of having to play with last-minute details like designing a table centerpiece, take a look at one of our favorite timesavers. Lynch Creek Farms, an online holiday wreath and centerpiece retailer, has a fresh arrangement that's reasonably priced and looks pretty enough for any holiday gathering.

Christmas tablescape tip #3

Wax nostalgic with childhood faves

Your family probably has a whole list of fond holiday memories, and some of that nostalgia may have to do with setting the holiday table with "Rudolph dishes." You may want to move on to something a little more sophisticated, but consider carefully before you consign those kiddy plates to the recycling bin. Christmas memory makers aren't always what you'd want or expect, but they're a big part of the season, so try to work them in. If they don't suit your table design, use them as dessert plates instead.

Christmas tablescape tip #4

Make your holiday table shine

You can bring some shimmer and shine to your Christmas table without investing in expensive crystal stemware. The biggest visual draw on the table will be your centerpiece. If you use a cut-glass, silver or goldtone base, you'll be getting the best bling for your table design dollar. Another way to go is to use fresh flowers. Build a topiary out of white carnations and you'll create elegance with a naturally soft sheen.

Christmas tablescape tip #5

Add rustic holiday flair

If you don't want to fuss with a fancy presentation, how about two pillar candles on either side of a wooden bowl filled with shiny red apples or other fruit? For a larger centerpiece, use a basket instead. To make pillar candles look and smell like they belong in a little country cabin, trim long cinnamon sticks to size and glue them all around the sides like fence posts. Plaid, pine boughs, fresh fruit and a few nuts will give your table country chic. The rustic approach is inexpensive and will help integrate mismatched serving pieces, too.

Christmas tablescape tip #6

Give your holiday table some whimsy

If you've always wanted to put a ceramic mouse in your grandfather clock or tuck an elf on the mantle, Christmas is the time. Your table offers the same opportunity to do things you might shy away from any other time of year. How about a battery-operated train that goes around your centerpiece or an apothecary jar filled with cranberries and white feathers? If your table is situated under an imposing chandelier, post a Santa and sleigh or an angel on those lovely glass prisms. Place a personalized stocking filled with after-dinner goodies behind each chair.

Christmas is so full of cheerful, touching moments, it's only natural to want to make it as perfect as possible. If you're dreaming of a special Christmas table with all the trimmings, have fun with your design and don't be afraid to decorate with gusto. Just remember to leave room for the fabulous holiday food.

Holiday how-to

How to display holiday cards

Do you love the annual flurry of holiday greetings but not the tumbling mess it creates on the mantel? This creative solution is a fun and easy way to show off your cards.

More holiday entertaining and Christmas decorating tips

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