Decorating your table for each season is a great way to mark the passage of time and celebrate the best that each month has to offer. Best of all, a tablescape doesn’t have to be an expensive project. Once you learn the basics, you can create something you love when you choose color schemes and concepts inspired by nature’s bounty.
Ready to get started? Try these ideas for a gorgeous dining table that’s guaranteed to make your next meal one to remember — no matter when you host it.
A tablescape encompasses all the elements of a fully set and decorated table. You don’t have to include every one of the following elements, but you should mix and match a few to dress up your dining area.
- Tablecloth and/or runners
- Dinner plate
- Napkin and rings
- Candlesticks and candles
- Centerpiece vessel and decor
- Place cards
Your dishes and silverware are the more permanent part of your tablescape, so these should be neutral enough to use in all four seasons. To keep things interesting, you can purchase or make seasonally appropriate napkins, placemats and runners that are easy to switch out at different times during the calendar year.
Centerpieces are also easy to update as the seasons change. Consider filling a glass bowl with seasonal fruit, flowers or other found items like shells or pinecones. You can also replace candles with seasonal colors or switch candlesticks for tea lights and glass votive holders as the moods strikes. Most of these items can be found at your local craft store at great prices — especially if you shop end-of-season sales.
Winter Tablescape Ideas
- Candlelight:The long, dark nights of winter practically beg for candles to add some cheer. Consider a grouping of pillar candles in varied heights as a glowing centerpiece, or add a line of votives across the length of your table on a decorative runner.
- Silver and Gold:Metallics will glint and add some sparkle when you light the candles. Choose gleaming metallic chargers or table linens and napkins with silver or gold threads in the weave to catch the light. Metallic napkin rings will coordinate well if you keep all your metals in the same color tone.
- Evergreen Centerpieces:Fill a bowl with pinecones you gather on a nature walk — use them as-is or dab a bit of white glue on the tips and sprinkle with glitter for additional shine. Fill vases with branches of winterberry or springs of holly, and consider cutting evergreen branches to arrange a bed of greenery around your centerpiece.
- Force Winter Bulbs:There are few flowers outside, but winter is the traditional time to force bulbs to bloom indoors. Amaryllis, paperwhites and even hyacinths will all add color and a fresh scent to your table. You can usually find bulbs for forcing at your local nursery or hardware store throughout the winter.
Spring Tablescape Ideas
- Flowers and Blossoming Branches:There’s no better way to celebrate spring than with floral centerpieces to capture the beauty of nature’s rebirth. A row of small Mason jars or glasses each filled with a single bloom is an easy way to bring petal power, or you can try your hand at arranging your own bouquets of garden blooms. For a large centerpiece, consider arcing branches of early forsythia and pussy willows.
- Go Green:Fresh, light shades of green are the perfect color to dress a spring table as it reflects the budding landscape outside. You can make your own inexpensive, no-sew napkins by purchasing a couple yards of green gingham and using pinking shears to cut it into 24-inch squares. You could also make a simple runner of the same material and use it over your uncovered table — the combination of green and wood tones will reflect the world outside your window.
- Add Shabby Chic Flair:Spring is a wonderful time to hit antique stores for some delightful finds you can re-purpose into a creative centerpiece. Wire bird cages, antique egg cups and colorful glassware can all add a romantic touch to your table. Keep your eyes peeled for vessels you can use to hold your spring flowers — sometimes a bit or grosgrain ribbon or a fresh coat of white spray paint is all it takes to make a stunning centerpiece out of flea market finds.
Summer Tablescape Ideas
- Burlap and Lace:Capture the relaxed attitude of summer with a table full of country charm. The combination of natural burlap and white lace is utterly charming, and there are so many ways to get it right. Cut burlap placemats and use lace ribbon for napkin rings and as a finishing touch on your vases. Make a burlap runner edged in lace to anchor a centerpiece of flowers. Layer these fabrics anyway you like for the perfect combination of practical and pretty.
- Get Beachy:Though you can always find loads of beautiful summer blooms, feel free to switch out your bouquets for a centerpiece that’s all about life at the shore. Fill a bowl with shells and sea glass, or line up your very best low-tide treasures along an aquamarine runner. You can also fill a Mason jar with a bed of craft sand before adding a small candle for evening get-togethers. Souvenirs like sand dollars and starfish also make a wonderful favor to decorate each plate for a party
- Try a Tailored Look:Summer is also a great time to trim your table with a nautical or patriotic color scheme, and these bold color choices look great when you design your table with clean lines. Use crisp canvas for placemats, and stick to a simply folded napkin instead of a frillier option. For more pizzazz, embrace the stars and stripes with patriotic ribbon or fabrics that celebrate Old Glory.
Fall Tablescape Ideas
- Celebrate the Harvest:You don’t have to have a wicker cornucopia to show off beautiful apples, pears and miniature pumpkins. A wooden salad bowl or crystal fruit bowl will look just as lovely. You can also use wheat heads in vases or tucked into a napkin ring for a wonderful fall look.
- Go for the Gold:Take your cue from the changing leaves for your color scheme. Look for fabrics and accessories in deep reds, russets and golds to give your table a rich look — nothing will make it feel like autumn faster than bringing these colors to the fore.
- Bring the Outdoors Inside: Try gathering decorations from your backyard or a local park. Instead of a fabric runner, create a casual anchor for your centerpiece with a bed of perfectly crisp, colored leaves or colorful ears of Indian corn.
- Add Wood Accents: The natural tone and grain of wood is another great element for fall. Try using a favorite cutting board or trivet as a base for your centerpiece, or seek out inexpensive wooden chargers for each place setting.