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How to style your dining room for Christmas

Christmas is the holiday that nearly everyone decorates for, even if it’s a tiny tree or scented candles that evokes that special holiday atmosphere. It’s the holiday that brings back cherished holiday memories we hope to duplicate. Christmas decorating ideas usually involve many, many themes – from chic to rustic to childhood dreams. There are trees, garlands, reindeer, Santas of all styles, stars, glitter, sparkle, shine, and large or small decorations to choose from during the Christmas season.

The fact that there is so much to choose from makes this a great holiday to go all-out while styling your dining room. But we caution you: Edit your choices. If there’s no room for serving dishes on the table, you may have gone overboard!

Let’s talk logistics

First, what is the table shape? If it’s round, you have to style for that size. You want a main area in the middle and some other items around the center. For a long table, it’s best to style the decorations down the center from end to end.

Are you going to divide the room into different color schemes? That’s an option if the room is large enough and you have distinctive areas. For instance, if the tree is about 10 feet away in the corner, there’s a sideboard for desserts that’s about 5 feet away. If everything is close together, you are better off going with one color palette with different shade variations.

If you are unsure about which shade of color is in the same palette, get a color wheel or color fan from a paint store. You are safe using the hues the wheel or fan shows together.

Think height constraints. If people will be reaching over the center, and you don’t want them dodging decorations to chat. Nor do you want their clothes to burst into flames because 14 taper candles are part of your decorating scheme. Put smaller lighted candles at the ends of the table or use tea candles. That small table near the window in your dining room or a sideboard is a great place to put desserts and some fun decorations.

Pick a color palette

Pastel colored bulbs used for table decoration

Festive red and green is never, ever a bad choice. Use gold, silver, and even black as accents. Using champagne or even blush pink is very on trend. Using brown, like wood serving trays or pine cones and branches with greenery attached, gives a warm, cozy feel to any decor. Put the serving tray in the middle of the table and use red berries, greenery, pine cones, and a candle to create a centerpiece.

Use a plaid table runner to decorate the entire table length and use solid-colored ornaments and greenery. If it’s a very long table, use several serving trays with smaller displays. And while we are talking about greenery like sprigs of red berries and pine cones, feel free to mix in a couple of Santas, smaller wood reindeer, etc.

Silver, gold, and pastels create an elegant palette with literally thousands of options. You can buy birch tree branches, lay them down the center of the table, hang small ornaments, or tuck silver, gold, and icy white ornaments to create a fabulous center area of your table. Or, use birch logs for a neutral backdrop for your decorating. Look for elegant snowmen, flocked ornaments in pastel colors, and snowflake ornaments to complete the look.

Remember your place settings are part of the decorations. Use festive placemats. Charger plates in metallic colors, red and green or white if your china is colored are great color additions. A ribbon tied around the place setting in a color that matches your decorations makes even an all-white china service look special.

Festive Christmas place setting
Terri Cnudde/Pixabay

Style everything for Christmas

Make use of side tables, a sideboard, or even an end table or two if you’ve got the room in the dining area. Using a different color palette for the dessert area will set it off. Vary the height of serving dishes to make it even more interesting to the eye. If you don’t have cake servers to add height to some dessert selections, flip a bowl over and put a plate on top. Loosely twine ribbon around the dishes to make it look extra festive.

If you are giving the guests a small gift, putting them by their seating area may just clutter up the table. Put the small, gaily wrapped packages in a decorative bowl and use them as part of your dessert-area decor.

Do decorate the children’s table if you have one. You can mimic the same color scheme as the main table, but go for woodsy and child-friendly. There’s a difference between an elegant snowman and a jolly one. 

Christmas is the time to go all-out with your decorating. Whatever color palette or style you choose, it will contain a bit of your own personal charm and be all the more inviting for guests. To avoid extra stress on the big day, set the table and style your room the night before. The next morning, take a good, long look at everything and rearrange to your satisfaction. Enjoy your holiday

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Kathleen Ostrander
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kathleen has worked for United Press International and she's written about everything from style to pets for newspapers…
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