10 Simple Yet Chic Holiday Table Tips

A big part of hosting around the holidays is, obviously, the food. And while I do enjoy cooking, truthfully, my favorite part of hosting is creating fun, beautiful, and sometimes unexpected tabletops. Here are 10 ways to create a holiday table that is magically simple, affordable, and creative, while also managing to engage your kids! Use one idea or combine a couple...and have fun!

1. Don’t worry about a fancy tablecloth

Instead of spending a ton of money on a tablecloth, consider throwing a yard of home décor-weight fabric across a basic, inexpensive white banquet cloth (available everywhere from Target to Costco). Finish the edges of the fabric with fusible webbing to create instant clean edges with an iron. Check your local fabric store’s remnant section; you might walk out with a yard for under $10.

2. Send the kids out to hunt and gather for your centerpiece

While I must admit I do love arranging flowers, there's no need to spend money on materials for a fancy centerpiece. Let the kids burn off some holiday energy by sending them out to hunt for and gather leaves, branches, pine cones, acorns, or whatever else they can find; perfect elements for table decoration! Put tall boughs in a vase, or smaller items in a long basket or tray down the center of your table.

 Send your kids out to collect centerpiece elements from nature (photo by Paige Lewin)

Send your kids out to collect centerpiece elements from nature (photo by Paige Lewin)

3. Multitask colorful elements

Not only are pomegranates super healthy, they’re perfect tabletop décor because of their great color and shape. Buy a bunch at the grocery store and place them on your table in a glass bowl. Break them open at the end of dinner for a light and sweet dessert option. Perfectly simple (and delicious).

4. Add texture

Pick up some burlap at a craft store and, using a placemat you already own as a template, cut out individual mats for however many guests you're hosting. No need to hem the edges…fraying burlap is pretty!

5. Skip the china

While I love breaking out my wedding china, sometimes it's easier to use the dishes I've got in my kitchen cabinet. Just like the white banquet cloth, you can't go wrong owning a set of plain white plates. Top off your white plate with a simple solid salad plate for some visual interest. Pier One and Home Goods have served me well when it comes to pretty (and cheap!) salad plates.

 Mix and match your everyday dishware (photo by Paige Lewin)

Mix and match your everyday dishware (photo by Paige Lewin)

6. Get creative with your napkins

Don't own any fun cloth napkins? Get yourself to a local fabric store (or hop online) and pick up some 100% cotton yardage in a great pattern. Wash the fabric, iron, then cut in squares (again, using an existing napkin as a template), and use fusible hemming tape to create finished no-sew edges.

7. Make easy and unforgettable place cards

Using a small rectangle of kraft paper or a cut up grocery bag, write a guest's name at the top (or rubber stamp the name if you have terrible handwriting like me), followed by a statement about why you and your family are thankful for that guest. Roll the paper in a scroll and secure with a short piece of yarn.

 Insert some gratitude into your place cards (photo by Paige Lewin)

Insert some gratitude into your place cards (photo by Paige Lewin)

8. Pretty up your chairs (and more) with pompoms

Since you're keeping your table simple, consider decking out the chairs with pompom garlands made by you and your kids! In the next few weeks leading up to turkey day, combat the "there's nothing to doooooo" refrain by handing your kids a ball of yarn and getting them started on this fun project. There are no shortage of DIY pom pom tutorials out there and all you need is one (or several) colors of yarn and sharp scissors. Don't worry if you get carried away -- scatter extra pompoms or pile them in a vessel on your table.

 Get the kids making pom poms for your decor (photo by Paige Lewin)

Get the kids making pom poms for your decor (photo by Paige Lewin)

9. Bring in the kid stuff

Rather than sending the children off to the requisite kids’ table, incorporate a “kid” activity directly onto your tabletop. Cover your table with art paper (roll paper works nicely), then place markers, crayons, and colored pencils in harvest colors in glasses down the center of the table or at each place setting. Then doodle away as you rest between courses.

10. Make it a family affair

Consider using family pictures to decorate your table (with frames and all). Place a small stack of paper and a pen at each place setting and encourage your family to record memories and the things for which they are thankful. Gather the slips of paper in a bowl and read them aloud at the end of the night as the tryptophan coma sets in!

 How to style a simple and chic holiday table

How to style a simple and chic holiday table