Every year Adam and I host a dinner party for a handful of our closest friends – we’ve invited the same group for the past 5 years and it’s become a tradition we all look forward to. I cook – usually some version of mine sweet and spicy glazed short ribs, pesto parmesan cheese potatoesand mine holiday jewels kale salad– and we drink champagne by the fire and enjoy another good evening of conversation before the year comes to an end.
I always love the chance to set a simple Christmas table with place cards, greenery and candles, so I thought it would be fun to share with you exactly how I’m setting the table this year. Spoiler: my favorite handmade ceramic dishes and recycled glasses from Casa Zuma will definitely appear. Scroll on for my tips on how to design a modern Christmas table setting and my thoughts on keeping it simple so you can enjoy the party as much as your guests.
Set the table the night before
My top priority with any holiday tablescape is that it be simple enough to be completely stress-free on the day of the gathering. So my absolute, number one tip is to set the table completely the night before. That way, on the morning of the party, you can just enjoy how beautiful it looks and focus on all the other details.
Lay the foundation with flax
Gone are the days of perfectly starched linen tablecloths. When I design a modern Christmas table setting, I almost always choose one casual linen table throw which does not completely cover the table – I love to let the beauty of the natural wood show a little.
A heavy, oversized linen napkin feels organic and slightly luxurious, but I could never find the perfect one – that is, until I created my own as one of the first pieces I designed for our Casa Zuma launch collection. And believe me when I say – it’s absolutely perfect.
Add an evergreen runner for Scandi vibes
This is the third year in a row that I have worked with Elle Gracious garlands on the evergreen elements of our holiday decor, and I love how we’ve been able to capture this simple Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic that feels special all season long.
For a modern Christmas table setting, I love using a garland in the middle of the table. It acts as a “runner” of sorts and doesn’t block the conversation the way a taller floral centerpiece would. Plus, it lasts for weeks, meaning you can enjoy it throughout the holiday season (not just on party night!). I’m all about getting as much mileage out of my dinner decor as possible.
Embrace the wabi sabi beauty of handmade ceramics
It’s no secret that I love handmade ceramics, and luckily the warmth and rusticity of handmade items never go out of style. There’s just something about them – when I pick up a hand-thrown mug or a slightly irregular bowl, there’s a subtle connection with the person who made it with their own hands. I set this Christmas table with ours oversized dinner plates in stonewareand I love that these feel elevated for a dinner party, but are also the dishes we use every night for dinner.
If you’ve had your eye on these plates, get excited because they’re finally in stock from our potters in Mexico in just a few weeks! We are now accepting pre-orders, so now is the time to grab them as a little Christmas present for yourself.
Create simple place settings
As much as I love a casual table, I’m also a fan of place cards as a simple way to make each setting feel special for the holidays. And it’s always nice for guests to know exactly where to sit! Placemats are a perfect opportunity to bring a natural touch to the table, and I love to decorate them with seasonal elements such as fresh herbs, dried citrus slices or cinnamon sticks. For this setting, we created simple rosemary wreath place cards with big wow factor.
How to make place cards with rosemary wreath
- Start with the freshest rosemary you can get, as it bends with less effort. Grab 3 rosemary stems, each 6-8″ long, some green floral wire and wire cutters.
- Begin by wrapping the floral wire around one rosemary stem, twisting slightly as you go. About halfway through, add another piece of rosemary and continue twisting the thread to connect the two pieces. Add the last sprig of rosemary halfway through the second piece.
- When you reach the middle of the third piece, loop it back to connect it to the first stem of rosemary. Wrap the thread to secure it, then cut. Carefully adjust the wire to create a circle if necessary.
For more modern Christmas table setting inspiration, jump over to last year’s pomegranate-adorned holiday table. And remember to check out ours Holiday headquarters for all our best recipes, decor ideas and of course gift guides to fully celebrate the season!