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7 Must-Have Items to Set the Perfect Holiday Table

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Last Updated on June 17, 2024 by lindseymahoney

In today’s world of fast-paced trends and disposable goods, there’s a certain magic in investing in timeless dinnerware and serving pieces that can stand the test of time. These are the pieces that elevate your dining experience, add a touch of elegance to every meal, and become cherished family heirlooms. Here are seven simple yet sophisticated items to set the perfect holiday table that will last the next 50 years and beyond.

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

If you are new to setting a formal table, don’t be intimidated! It may take a little extra effort but it is worth it and a great way to create a tradition that will bring a wave of nostalgia every holiday season.

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Choose Your Holiday Tablescape Theme or Color Scheme

There are many holiday themes to choose from when setting the perfect table, but I prefer to go with timeless and classic. This means keeping it simple with color schemes and table decor. For Thanksgiving, I stick to warm colors and natural elements to create a beautiful tablescape for a cohesive look that can easily be recreated every year.

During the Christmas season, I stick to the classic color combinations of green, red and gold for a timeless table setting year after year. 

7 Must-Have Items to Set the Perfect Holiday Table

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

1 | Crystal Glassware

A few years ago, we took a family trip to Ireland and toured the Waterford Crystal factory. Creating the crystal glassware is truly an art form and it made me appreciate the water and wine glasses included in our holiday tablescape that much more.

There is no better time of year to break out the crystal than the holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas and spending time with loved ones.

Why It Lasts: Crystal glassware is renowned for its clarity, brilliance, and durability. High-quality crystal can withstand years of use while maintaining its elegance and sparkle.

Timeless Appeal: Crystal glassware adds a touch of sophistication to any table setting. Whether it’s a casual dinner or a holiday brunch, crystal glasses enhance the experience, making each sip feel special. Look for classic designs that will stay in style through the decades.

Care Tips: Hand wash crystal with mild detergent and warm water. Avoid using the dishwasher to prevent etching and cracking.

2 | Silver Cutlery

While I don’t personally own silver cutlery (yet), it is an item I am always on the lookout for when I visit estate sales around town.

Why It Lasts: Sterling silver cutlery is not only beautiful but also incredibly durable. When properly cared for, it can last for generations, developing a lovely patina over time.

Timeless Appeal: Silver cutlery adds elegance to any meal, making everyday dining feel like a special occasion. Opt for classic patterns that will never go out of style.

Care Tips: Hand wash silver cutlery and dry it immediately to prevent tarnishing. Store in a tarnish-resistant chest or wrap in anti-tarnish cloth.

3 | Bone China

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

The holiday season is the perfect time to bust out our wedding china and remember why we chose our pattern. We chose a simple Kate Spade pattern and we didn’t realize until after our wedding that the swirl looks like our initials, L and C.

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

One day I would like to get seasonal china patterns, like the Lenox Christmas pattern for holiday dinner parties. Place the dinner plate on a charger plate to create a more formal look. I like gold charger plates that add a festive touch to the holiday place settings. Plastic chargers are affordable and last for years.

Why It Lasts: Bone china is known for its strength and translucency. It’s more chip-resistant than other types of porcelain, making it ideal for both everyday use and special occasions.

Timeless Appeal: The delicate and refined appearance of bone china makes it a timeless choice. Choose simple, elegant designs that can complement any table setting.

Care Tips: Most bone china can be safely used in the dishwasher, but hand washing is recommended to preserve its quality. Avoid sudden temperature changes to prevent cracking.

4 | Tablecloth and Napkins

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

For the holiday season, I have a few go-to table cloths that I like to use. First, I have a standard white table cloth in two sizes. One for the standard table length, and a second to accommodate the table when the leaves are pulled out.

I also have a red and green table cloth that I interchange throughout the holiday season. A simple table runner is an easy way to jazz up a simple white tablecloth.

Cloth napkins instantly elevate the dinner table and can be reused year after year. I have purchased multiple sets of cloth napkins at estate sales to fit with my color scheme.

Why They Last: High-quality linen or cotton tablecloths and napkins are durable and can withstand many washes, becoming softer and more charming with age.

Timeless Appeal: A classic white or neutral table cloth and matching napkins provide a versatile foundation for any table setting. They can be dressed up with different accessories for various occasions.

Care Tips: Wash in cold water and air dry or tumble dry on low heat to prevent shrinkage. Iron while slightly damp for a crisp finish.

5 | Napkin Rings (optional)

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

Napkin rings are optional, but it is another way to add a personal touch to your table setting. 

Why They Last: Sturdy materials like silver, brass, or wood ensure that napkin rings can endure frequent use and handling.

Timeless Appeal: Napkin rings add a touch of refinement to your table. Opt for classic designs that can match various table settings and themes.

Care Tips: Hand wash and polish metal napkin rings regularly to maintain their shine. Wooden napkin rings should be wiped clean and occasionally oiled to prevent drying out.

6 | Silver Platters and Serving Dishes

Silver platters and serving dishes can be expensive but are worth it for that classic look. Because I don’t have a “silver platter budget”, I like to find them secondhand for a fraction of the price.

If you are lucky enough to have family heirloom serving pieces, this is a great excuse to pull them out of storage. Dinnerware and servingware that have been passed down through the generations are great conversation starters with dinner guests, too!

Why They Last: Silver platters and serving dishes are incredibly durable and can become family heirlooms with proper care. They are perfect for presenting food in an elegant manner.

Timeless Appeal: These pieces add a sense of grandeur to any meal, making even the simplest dishes look gourmet. Choose designs that are classic and versatile.

Care Tips: Hand wash and dry immediately to prevent tarnishing. Polish regularly to maintain their luster.

7 | Candlesticks and Candle Holders

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

Ambiance is an important part of setting the perfect holiday table. Dim the light over the table and light a few candles to create a warm glow. For our standard tablescape, I like to have two candle holders in the center of the table with a beautiful floral arrangement as the centerpiece.

Candlesticks come in many different colors and are a great way to add some height to the formal table setting. Small votive candles are a great option as well.

If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your dining room, light a fire to instantly set the mood.

Why They Last: Candlesticks and candle holders made from sturdy materials like brass, silver, or crystal are built to last. They can withstand the heat of burning candles and frequent handling.

Timeless Appeal: Candlesticks add ambiance and a touch of romance to your table setting. Simple, classic designs ensure they remain stylish for years to come.

Care Tips: Regularly clean and polish metal candlesticks to keep them shining. For crystal candle holders, hand wash and dry to maintain their clarity.

BONUS: Floral Centerpiece

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

The perfect Christmas table always includes some sort of floral arrangement or fresh greenery. The centerpiece doesn’t have to be extravagantly expensive, you can create something special with a bouquet from the grocery store or pine branches from your Christmas tree.

Floral arrangements create a focal point on the dining room table and are a great opportunity to add visual interest to your design.

Investing in these seven timeless serving pieces will not only enhance your next dinner party but also create lasting memories with your family and friends. These pieces are more than just functional items; they are treasures that add elegance and charm to every meal.

7 must-have items to set the perfect holiday table without spending a fortune every year!

By choosing classic designs and caring for them properly, you can ensure they will be cherished for generations to come.

You are sure to wow your guests when they see your perfect holiday table set with love. Happy hosting!

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