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Set a ‘wow’ worthy holiday table

Any great hostess will tell you presentation is key when it comes to entertaining. If you’re expecting company this holiday season, here are some expert tips for making your table magical and memorable.


Martha Whitney Butler, owner of The French Potager in Bay St. Louis, based her outdoor Thanksgiving-themed tablescape on one of her favorite memories. 

“When I was a child, we found ourselves with my dad not celebrating Thanksgiving at our hunting camp,” she recalls. “Much to our surprise, my mother made the three-hour drive with Thanksgiving dinner and her china in tow to the camp and set it all up, picnic-style, in the field by the lodge. It was a beautiful memory, and a testament to the love of family ushered in by the holidays.”


  1. Little details such as place cards really elevate your guests’ dining experience. 
  2. Consider dining outdoors if weather permits. You can set up many vignettes in your yard with multiple tablescapes to make it unique. 
  3. Beautiful flowers, fruits and vegetables can signal the season and set your table ablaze with color.
  4. Heirloom china, silver, and linen napkins make their annual appearance during the holidays. 
  5. There are many online references to help you brush up on the placement of your table settings for both casual and formal dining. A good rule of thumb is to place the smaller pieces on the outside and work your way in.


“For many people, setting a table involves a lot of reminiscing and thinking of happy times; it’s something my daughters and I love to do together, and since they were very small, they’ve loved making me tell stories as we work on a tablescape,” says Debbie Willis, owner of Johnson Bros. Jewelry in Pascagoula. “Whether it’s remembering all the special people who gifted sterling flatware at a bridal shower, reliving the memory of carefully selecting each china pattern during an engagement or even running down to grab the latest centerpiece to complete a table, it should always be a fun and memorable experience.”


  1. I like to make my guests feel special by adding something personal to each place setting. At Thanksgiving dinner, it’s a tradition in my family that each napkin is tied with that year’s commemorative silver holly Bell Christmas ornament from Johnson Bros. Jewelry for my grandchildren to take home and add to their collections. 
  2. Mixing the old with the new on a tablescape is a great way to honor your past while putting your own personal touch on things. Selecting a complimentary accent plate, adding an Annieglass charger, or even working in some new pieces like a cheese board or serving dish are all great ways to modernize and personalize your table while still incorporating these special family pieces.


“This year many families will host smaller crowds for the holidays,” say Julie Gainey and Stacy Pair, owners of Heritage House Gifts in Gulfport. “This tablescape provides an intimate holiday space to enjoy your loved ones. Highlighting gold and red this year, Deer Friends from Casafina provides a playful base to begin a beautiful holiday table. These sweet forest friends are the perfect background for any homemade entree.”


  1. Use a mix of colors in your stemware when setting a holiday table. 
  2. Include a small gift with each place setting for your special guests. 
  3. Add a special piece that has been given to you by a loved one. 

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