For many of us, “holiday season” also means “entertaining season.” From Thanksgiving all the way through to New Year’s Day, you’re more likely to have guests gathering at your table, meals will feel ever more festive and decorations that have been packed away since last year emerge to brighten up your home.
Given that the natural focus this time of year is so often on the dining room anyway, a simple yet effective way to step up both your hosting and decorating game is with a little creative tablescaping. And that starts with linens: Think of cotton napkins, place mats, runners and tablecloths as your table’s wardrobe, giving it protection — but also personality. Here are three ideas for creating a tablescape that will put your home, and everyone who spends time in it, in a holiday mood.
1. Lean in to the season with thematic prints and patterns
Holiday motifs never fail to lend a whimsical, exuberant vibe. For Thanksgiving — and any other fall occasion, really — a classic choice is a harvest-inspired print: pumpkins, gourds and leaves in autumnal gold and red. Or you can interpret the theme a bit more broadly, with robust florals that can bridge the seasons from fall to winter. Botanical prints like these invite accessorizing with real botanicals: Tuck a sprig of rosemary or a dried flower into napkin rings, or make a centerpiece of beautiful winter branches instead of a traditional bouquet.
Feel free to let your sense of humor show, too. For example, these 100% cotton turkey towels can double as napkins at your Thanksgiving table and are sure to elicit smiles. Another idea: If you’re headed to someone else’s home for the holiday, they make sweet gifts for the host.
2. Let the food take the spotlight with neutrals and naturals
Serene colors and subdued patterns add up to a table that’s sophisticated as well as versatile. Whether you’re dressing it for a full-on Thanksgiving feast or just a night when friends drop by and end up staying for dinner, these simple but elevated cotton linens feel right for every occasion.
The key here is to let details like fringe, decorative stitching and textural elements, rather than bright colors or busy patterns, add visual interest. Sticking to a calm palette — white, tan, gray, navy — means you can swap in virtually any serving pieces, dishes, and centerpieces and be assured of a cohesive look. Since this is a table that invites the food to take center stage, you can bring on all the gorgeous holiday platters, elaborate garnishes and showstopping presentations you’ve got.
And because these table dressings are made of 100% cotton, they’re also machine-washable — so there’s no need to worry whether you have time to get the tablecloth to the dry cleaner before your next occasion. During these busy months, you’ll be especially thankful for stylish decor that’s also low maintenance.
3. Create a cozy vibe with homespun fabrics
Even during the holidays, not every feast calls for a formal table. Creating a more casual atmosphere with cheery, homey patterns like gingham, ticking stripes and plaid can help put everyone in a relaxed mood. Cotton is still ideal here — it’s soft and easy to care for — but a more informal table calls for heftier weaves like denim and twill.
You can even extend the theme a bit beyond the table by stocking a set of coordinating aprons to hand out to guests who wander into the kitchen (it’s inevitable, right?). Since they’re there, they can help out!