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Guide To Creating Fantastic Dining Table Decor

Table decor is hot!  Have you noticed the plethora of charity events which focus on over the top tabletop decorations created by designers infiltrating cities across the nation?  Charity table settingsPeople wander around with their smart phones snapping pictures while oohing and ahhing over decadent dining tables to get their party planning juices flowing.  Setting the table for a party requires more than pulling out the good china.  There is so much fun to be had decorating a table!

This post is designed to be a quick guide to creating a fantastic table and a little bit of what not to do when decorating a table.

When your guests walk in and spot a beautifully decorated dining table their anticipation heightens and they know they are in for an exciting evening.

THEMES Table Decor ThemesPhotos: Let’s Add SprinklesBetween Naps on the Porch (Please visit both for great table decor ideas!)

Don’t you just love a theme?  They are festive and exciting and instantly elevate the atmosphere of the dining room.  Pick a theme to match the season, holiday, personal interests or style of the guest of honor or host.

Guess what?  You do not have to get all color matchy with your existing dining room decor.  Make the table special, whichever colors fuel your theme help to create a focal point which begs people to sit down and enjoy.

TABLE SETTINGS Informal & formal place settingsPhoto: Brunch At Saks

With so many options from casual china to casual dinnerware, you can have oodles of fun creating a special table setting.  But do it up, from napkins to place mats or tablecloths, glassware to crystal – if you are going to the trouble of having a party, even if it is only for two people, make it special.  A dining table deserves the attention you would give a date, indulge in the special touches.

  • Make place cards
  • Use crisp linen napkins
  • Miniature potted plants also make nice party favors
  • Mix colors and styles of plates and glasses


Table setting via The Enchanted HomePhoto: The Enchanted Home

Abundance is always enjoyably beautiful.  Rather than one over the top arrangement use many smaller (and lower) ones.  Enhance don’t compete.  The flowers aren’t the star, your food is.  Everything else plays a supporting role.


Candles are delightful.  Remember everyone look’s prettier in candle light.  Again abundance is good.  Rather than one or two massive candelabras, (we’ve all got those sitting in the closet don’t we… not) scatter lower candle holders, glass hurricanes and votives.  Mixing heights varies the light levels and makes it interesting.


Consider all the vantage points of your guest:

  • First view of the dining room
  • Approaching the table
  • Seated

Give your guests something to look at from each stage.  Allow your table decor to capture the eye of your guests.  You want them to be  intrigued from afar, expectant as sitting down and enchanted once seated.  colorful table decorNotice the wonderful crystals on the table don’t really catch one’s eye until seated.  If you think about where your eye rests, this lower location, similar to the height of glassware, is a wonderful location to sneak in something special.


1. Skyscraper decorations  Too high table decorSeriously who can see through this?  Filling the center of a table with items taller than a person’s sight line is a not what one might term hospitable.

“When decorating a table, make sure you keep the flow of dinner conversation in mind, so all guests can converse. If you decorate too high, you will create a visual and conversational blockade… and your centerpiece will be considered annoying rather than beautiful.”  – Courtney M. PriceDrawing of sight line for dining table decorThere is nothing worse than trying to talk through something. Table decor should be a conversation starter not conversation killer.

2. Way too intimate seatingUncomfortable dining table seatingPhoto: Mango Studios

Give people room to breathe.  Making people comfortable is part of being a good host. Give people room to turn towards one another to share juicy gossip or intimate tidbits.Proper seating at dining tableAllow 22-24″ minimum as the width for each guest around or along a table.  Face it, some people eat with their elbows flailing out to the side like they are a bird talking off.  Please don’t cram more people around the table than it can handle.  If your table isn’t large enough for your event, cut back or add more tables.

3. Aromatic candles or flowers on the table.  In a dining situation, the food is king and other aromas should never ever compete with the food.

4. Matchy-matchy table settings.  Even for the most formal of tabletop decor, the flaw in being too coordinated is the guest sees nothing. Don’t be matchy, matchy.

“If everything is the same, then your table is boring and has no visual interest. You want your table to reflect your personality and style, so mix it up and go for it!” – Michelle Alfano

5. Ugly personalities.  Certain people can be banned from the guest list if they have a habit of filling a room with tension or dread.  It doesn’t matter if they are the husband or wife or your best friend.  True story, after one of my husband’s close friends decided to call women out on having a boob job at one of our parties, he was off the guest list for good.  Eh, he was a total phony tool anyhow, no loss.

As the entertaining season approaches gather your ideas and do a dry run of your table decor design so you know what you need to add or subtract.  Judge your tabletop from the eyes of your guest from each vantage point.  Take a seat at your table, what would make it enchanting?  Remember abundance is good, low is better and space is comfortable.  Happy Entertaining!