3 Dazzling Holiday Tabletops that Don’t Require Folding a Napkin into a Turkey

Places, everyone.
Places, everyone.

I’ll bet you the vast expanse of my great grandma’s holiday salt-and-pepper shaker collection that somewhere along the line you picked up one or two table-setting rules. Maybe you even read a rule book telling you wrinkly linen is a crime and gravy boats should match the butter crockery and candlesticks should always be the same height (tips hat reverently to those of you who’ve mastered this). But sometimes—with tiny people underfoot and bigger ones peering over your shoulder as you try to whisk cornstarch into drippings—it’s just nice to know the table’s ready. And not only ready, but welcoming. And pretty. And practical, too. Does that seem like a tall order? If so, read on because we’ve got some ideas up ahead. And more importantly, consider this a friendly reminder that you, dear friend, are the master of your hard-won meal’s mise en place.

So whether you’re feeling a down-to-earth vibe but want to bring out a few cherished dishes, or you’ve decided to go with something a bit more minimalist, here are three show-stopping (and foolproof) tablescapes that’ll ensure the most important things stay front and center: food, friends, family (and wishbone pulling—don’t forget that).