Entertaining always presents the opportunity to get creative with your place settings, and hosting during the holiday season comes with the added bonus of being inspired by both the wintry elements and the festive vibe. As we prepare to gather around the table with family and friends over the next few weeks, we looked to three event design experts for ideas for creating a beautiful and inviting setting. Whether your taste is contemporary, classic, or somewhere in between, these expertly executed tablescapes are sure to encourage you to take your décor to gorgeous new heights.

A Fresh Take on Tradition

Table Settings Feature

When it comes to creating a classic festive table, Taylor Oliver of Greenville, South Carolina-based Oliver Hooper Events likes to put an of-the-moment spin on a traditional setting (see above for her inventive handiwork). One way she accomplishes this is by opting for a nontraditional color palette, in this case by favoring deep pinks and golds over the usual red and green. Inspired by the cordial glasses, the hues are unexpected yet still give off a decidedly late-December feel.

For those who wish to go this route, Oliver suggests pulling in traditional Christmas elements like evergreens, berries, and ornaments to give the look context. She also recommends using the holidays as an excuse to pull out all of your barware. (“Cocktails are essential to holiday entertaining,” she notes.) Though she rarely sets the table with cordial glasses, ’tis the season to offer up a toast in a pretty vessel. While you’re giving your favorite glassware an opportunity to shine, go ahead and dust off your other favorite family heirlooms and wedding gifts. “Christmas celebrations should be special and festive, and if you don’t pull them out now, when else are you going to use them?” she says, adding, “Don’t be afraid to break up sets and mix and match to keep things interesting.”

Credits: Photography: Angela Zion Photography / Table design: Oliver Hooper Events / Florals: Katelyn Pinner Studio / Place cards: Oliver Hooper Paper / Charger: Vietri / Salad plate and dinner plate: Royal Crown Derby / Cordial glasses: Patina Vie

Transitional with a Twist

Table Settings Feature

When designing a table setting, the experts at Columbus, Ohio-based Alchemy Styled always consider the season and atmosphere to find a point of inspiration, then curate their setting elements accordingly. First, they anchor a table with a floral statement, setting the tone for the look, and then set to work adding complementary and contrasting pieces. For the transitional-style design featured above, they started with a traditional dark seasonal spruce greenery, and broke it up with pampas grass—an unexpected element that’s lately been a favorite of theirs. The room’s darker color palette inspired them to create juxtaposition by incorporating warm metallics, which add a subtle holiday-themed feel to the moody and sophisticated color story.

To achieve this type of transitional-style table setting, Alchemy Styled recommends using candles in a bold hue, textured glassware or glassware in an unexpected shape, and a unique place card or seating indicator. However, they note that the most important thing is to have fun with it, adding, “Spending time around the table with people you care about is such a luxury these days, so add in elements that honor your guests and are catalysts for conversation.”

Credits: Photography: Henry Photography / Table design: Alchemy Styled / Florals (cedar, spruce, pine, pampas grass, and mandarins): Rose Bredl / Navy candles: Floral Society / Brass candlesticks and agate bottle toppers: Fourth Home / Chargers and plates: DBO home / Linens: Anthropologie

Modern and Festively Minimal

Carly Blair, owner and creative director of the Austin, Texas-based event design company House of Margot Blair, embraces the unexpected when designing a tablescape, and the results are never short of stunning. For the fresh and modern iteration above, Blair was inspired to highlight citrus, which is currently in peak season, and adds wonderful shape, color, and texture to the design.

As for the signature unexpected twist, she eschewed greenery and red ribbon, opting instead to achieve pops of color with lemons and oranges and yellow ribbon. Last but not least, “To keep it seasonal, I anchored the design with neutral elements that add a modern edge,” she says.

Credits: Photography: Leigh Ann Kalman, Editor of The Scout Guide Austin / Table design: House of Margot Blair / Florals: House of Margot Blair / Dinner plate: Loot Rentals / Salad plate: Eliana Bernard for Loot Rentals / Cordial glasses: Loot Rentals