Set a Stunning Holiday Table

A tabletop expert shares tips for creating a festive dinner display.


When most people get ready to host a large dinner party, their biggest worry is whether they have enough plates and silverware to go around. But focusing solely on functionality means missing a great opportunity.

Done right, a tablescape is a chance for hosts to inject a little personality into the celebration, says Arthur Goldstein, vice president of the venerable Godinger Silver Art Co., whose Joss & Main event launched on December 4.  “Ultimately, the table reflects the people giving the dinner,” explains Goldstein, who boasts more than two decades of industry experience. So how do you craft a table that showcases your style? We asked Goldstein to share his table-setting advice for this season and beyond.

Set the stage with simple, contemporary dinnerware.
Crisp white dinnerware and understated linens offer the perfect blank canvas for your tablescape, says Goldstein. What makes them such great starting points, Goldstein says, is that unadorned pieces in classic shapes are easy to dress up with accessories (think: a glimmering beaded charger, an ornate napkin ring), yet they’re basic enough for everyday use. For an on-trend twist, Goldstein recommends investing in a design with a luxe gold or silver trim. Or, if white doesn’t fit your vibrant personality, try setting out an array of colorful, mismatched ceramic dishes for a funky, bohemian effect.

Mix in eye-catching heirlooms for a layered effect.
If you’ve inherited a silver tea set, flatware, delicate porcelain platters, gorgeous cut-crystal glassware, or handcrafted lace tablecloths, don’t hide them in the attic. According to Goldstein, a younger generation of hosts is bringing these antique pieces back to the table. Mix them in with your contemporary basics to bring a sense of familiarity and nostalgia to your get-togethers.

Freshen up the look with whimsical accessories.

Tinted glassware and conversation-starting accents add visual intrigue to a table, and offer a way to tie your tabletop to your dining room’s décor. Consider adding depression-era carnival glass serving pieces, like the ones in Godinger’s American Vintage collection, or jewel-toned wine glasses for a little holiday flair. And don’t be afraid to have fun: One of Goldstein’s favorite additions to a table are his company’s charming animal-shaped salt and pepper shakers (which you’ll find in our exclusive Godinger event).

Don’t forget the details.
Complementary bouquets, napkin rings, custom place cards, and luminaries help pull everything together for polished, cohesive look. Whatever you add, though, be aware of how décor can affect the conversation. While tall taper candles set in cut crystal holders lend a romantic mood, be careful not to place flickering candles and oversized floral arrangements where they’ll block your guests’ view of one another. As an alternative, clusters of shimmering mercury glass votives and short floral centerpieces open up the table and keep the warm conversation flowing long into the night.

–Catie Colliton