Creating a festive table for family and guests

Christmas Table Decorations

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Christmas Table Decorations

We always have friends and family over for dinner during the Christmas holidays. With all the other activities going on, it's always the last minute when I'm thinking of how to decorate my table. Can anyone suggest some easy Christmas table decorations that don't require a trip to the store?

Use Nature Around You

Decorations from nature are simple and cheap. Depending on what's available in your neighborhood, you might be able to find pine cones, berries, and greenery trimmed off of your neighbors' shrubs (or your own). You can arrange your finds in a basket, a bowl, a jug, or even a flowerpot to make a centerpiece. Trim it with a bit of ribbon if you want to add more color. I used all these methods to decorate our house last year.

Finish Table with Candles

Find a log that's about one foot in length. Cut on angle on both ends. Slice a small amount off one side so it will lie flat on the table. Drill one, two, or three holes to hold candles.

You can use white birch if available. Oak has a nice bark pattern. You can put a little melted wax in holes to help hold candles.
Carol in Hayward, WI

Celebrate the Reason for the Season

One year things were so hectic that we realized only when we started to set the table for Christmas dinner that we had totally forgotten a centerpiece! Glancing around the room, my eyes fell on our nativity creche, a set which has lovely ceramic figures several inches high and including all the animals as well as the people. I turned a casserole dish upside down in the center of the table (to give the nativity some height), covered the dish with a large red cloth napkin, set up the creche and added a couple of simple tealights. We have a holly bush, so I also cut some holly to arrange around the base of the casserole dish. The relatives all remarked how beautiful it was and how nice that I had put "the reason for the season" at the center of the meal! And we have done this every year since.
Donna in Ohio

Keep It Simple. Keep It Low.

An easy way to decorate your table is to put a bunch of ornaments in a glass bowl or on a long, narrow tray. Use different size balls if possible. Whether you choose one color for the ornaments or a mixture, they will sparkle in the light and look festive. Run a narrow ribbon in a contrasting color through the wire loops on a few of them.

For a natural or rustic look, put some fruit and nuts in a wooden bowl or a basket. Bright red and green apples, some tangerines, and nuts in the shell can be accented with curling ribbon twisting casually over the side of the container.

If you will be baking cookies, use the clean cookie cutters, bottles of colored sugars, and similar items to make a fun display in a basket, bowl, or Bundt pan.

Do you have a Christmas colored scarf? You could lay it the length of the table and stand Christmas cards on it, alternating which way they face so all dinner guests can see the pretty fronts of the cards. A long narrow strip of colorful Christmas wrapping paper would work, too.

If you have a chandelier, you could hang ornaments or ribbons from the arms and skip having something on the table itself.

Whatever you do, make sure the table decorations are low enough so that people can talk across the table easily without having to peer through things.

Have Fun With It!

Decorating the table during the holidays can be fun if you think creatively. Ribbon can be pulled the length of the table and then it's your choice to use various votive candles or pine cones that have been spray-painted with gold or silver scattered around the ribbon. During the year, garage or estate sales have those kinds of items at bargain basement prices. Do you have extra vases at your home? They can be filled with festive ornaments and placed in the center of your table at no cost to you. Another thought is to use a basket or low glass bowl filled with boughs of evergreens or holly from your yard or a friend's yard, which will add wonderful fragrance to your home. Unique ornaments that are positioned in the center of your table or in a bowl will jumpstart a conversation regarding that particular ornament. Have fun with this and get more ideas from your family. They'll be glad to help!

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Frugal and Lovely

I've gotten a lot of compliments over the years on my frugal, but lovely table decorations. One thing I liked to do when we had a large trestle table was to go outside and cut just two branches off of our pine tree on the bottom. I'd dry them out and then put end to end on the middle of the table. I put small lights on the boughs or loose Christmas balls on them. I often put a lamp in the middle since I didn't like the idea of candles with the possibility of starting a fire. Another decoration that everyone liked when we got a round table was to put a round table skirt or tree skirt on the table. Then I'd wrap small boxes (not too high so everyone can see and talk to each other) and put them on the skirt. You could use each little box as a place card for your guests.

Save Space for All the Good Food

We always have more Christmas tree ornaments than my tree can hold, so I arranged some shiny glass ornaments (all different colors) in a pretty red bowl and used that for a centerpiece. I also put in some beads (mine was a string of glass-blown garland my grandmother had owned, but costume jewelry would work, too) to add additional color and interest. I flanked the bowl with two candlesticks that held red taper candles. This arrangement looked festive without taking up too much space. You need room for all the good food!
Fru-gal Lisa

Runner Ambience

I like to use one of my Christmas table runners down the middle of the table with a short string of pretty battery-operated lights. Then I simply place special Christmas ornaments on both sides of the light strand, which looks beautiful, especially in a low-light setting. Last year, I used a blue velvet runner with snowflakes on it and a set of lights that looked like crystal snowflakes, curving them back and forth like a snake. I tucked the battery box under the edge of the runner, and put snowman ornaments along the curves of the lights facing both sides of the table. It provided ambience with the lighting and made a very festive looking table. You could use any colored lights and ornaments that you have probably already collected over the years to create your own themed display.

Let Nature Provide the Decor!

I'm a fan of "real" decorations, even if they're temporary. Let nature provide the decor! Look around your yard/property for plants that are evergreen or even in fruit during the winter. In addition to pines, there are hollies (native and cultivated), junipers, blueberry shrubs, magnolias, and even some evergreen vines that can be cut and arranged into pretty sprigs with a bit of ribbon. Alternately, shop your fridge and pantry. Fresh oranges, cranberries, pomegranates, pears, nuts, and other seasonal fruits can simply be placed in a bowl, alone or in combinations.
Terry in Hoschton, GA

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