How to Set a Beautiful and Memorable Table for the Holidays

A slight drop in temperature and the beauty of fall colors may have you in the spirit of our upcoming holidays. As nice as it is to think about entertaining and the aroma of apple pie, some of us may be wondering how you are going to get it all prepared in time. Planning always helps.

You may also be considering your table setting and what to serve. Should you set a basic table or a formal setting? Where should you place the bread plate? Which way should the knife blade face?

Here are a few tips to assist you in planning the perfect holiday table setting:

Step 1: Get organized. Choose a theme and color that works with your decor and china pattern. For ideas, look outside. Flowers, pine cones, and greenery can give your table a fresh approach for your table setting. Now is the time to bring out your candles. Candlelight puts everyone at ease, creating warmth and ambiance.

Bethel Crossing, Connecticut


Step 2: Plan your menu. Will you be serving appetizers, soup, and dessert along with your main course? This will help guide you as to how to set your table. For menu planning tips, watch Chef Cris Carter’s “Party Planing” segment in Episode 3 of Toll Lifestyle TV, and for recipe ideas, please visit Toll Brothers’ Favorite Recipes board on Pinterest.

Step 3: Once your menu is planned, take a look at your utensils. Do you have enough forks for all of the courses you would like to serve?

Step 4: How do you plan to serve the meal to your guests? There are many options. Consider your space and the number of people attending. You may choose to serve family style, placing platters of food on the table for passing. Another option would be to place the meal in the kitchen and serve each guest. You may also serve the meal buffet style around the kitchen island. All styles are perfectly acceptable.

To learn more about how you can serve your guests around your kitchen island, watch interior designer Mary Cook’s “Multi-Function Kitchen” segment in Episode 3 of Toll Lifestyle TV.

Step 5: Set the table at least one day before your meal. This will allow for extra time for meal preparation and any other tasks that need to be completed on the day of the party.

Edgestone at Legacy, Texas


Now for the fun part! How do you set the table? If you are a bit overwhelmed by this task, please see the tips below within the photo captions.

For more ideas on how you can set the perfect table, please visit Toll Brothers’ For Your Next Gathering board on Pinterest.

Lisa Richey contributed to this story. Richey has been teaching good manners to children, adults, and educators since 1999. She is the author and creator of the popular program, Manners To Go. You may reach her at Manners To Go, American Academy of Etiquette, or follow her on Twitter at@MannersToGo.

Photo #1 and #2 courtesy of Valley Forge Flowers in Wayne, PA. For more information, please visit Valley Forge Flowers’ website.

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