How To Create A Tablescape For A Small Table This Holiday Season

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It's true that there's pretty much never-ending inspiration when it comes to elaborate tablescape ideas — both Pinterest and Instagram are filled with images of long, overflowing tables that are beautiful and inspiring. However, when it comes to creating a tablescape for a small table, there are considerably fewer ideas to choose from.

If you're adept at putting together wildly creative place settings and centerpieces, that's no problem. But if you, like many others, are staying home this year and trying your hand at a tablescape on your tiny table for the first time, that might cause a bit of an issue. That said, with a few expert tricks you can put your own together with ease and still have the energy to put food on the table, too, which is why TZR reached out to Tom Magill, Senior Home Stylist at Anthropologie, for his tried-and-true tips.

But before you get started, note that when it comes to creating a tablescape, it's OK — in fact, it's encouraged — to show your true colors and to not take things too seriously. "Have fun!" says Magill. "Keep things simple and personal. If you have a collection of candlesticks or a set of patterned dessert plates, work them into the tablescape — it’ll feel much more special if it reflects your personality and aesthetic."

With that in mind, keep scrolling to see the rest of Magill's advice for creating a tablescape of dreams — no huge dining table required.

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How To Create A Small Tablescape: Follow The Basic Principles

Though Magill says they're not hard and fast rules, there are a few basic principles of creating a tablescape that will help guide you when selecting the components of your table: color, texture, and height. "For example, if you’re serving the main course on plain white dinner plates, layer a colorful printed salad plate on top for visual interest," he says. "Add a simple linen napkin to provide texture and achieve height through everything from vases to stemware."

How To Create A Small Tablescape: Skip The Huge Floral Arrangement

Yes, a large and elaborate floral arrangement makes a statement on a table — but as Magill says, they're "often unwieldy." Instead, he suggests trying a deconstructed bouquet, which you can create by scattering bud vases (or even juice glasses) filled with blooms around the table. "You still have the natural element, but now with room for your serving dishes."

How To Create A Small Tablescape: Put Your Candles To Use

While you may be wondering how to make a big impact with your tablescape without that large floral arrangement or tons of decor, Magill has a one-word solution: candles. "They provide warmth and naturally draw your eye to the center of the table," he explains.

So, add groups of tapers around your table in varying sizes — they won't take up a lot of space and they'll satisfy the height rule Magill previously mentioned. Just remember not to use scented candles until your after-dinner drinks, he continues — otherwise, they might compete with the flavor of your food.

How To Create A Small Tablescape: Don't Forget The Runner

Not only are runners trending this year, but as Magill explains, they also give a table visual interest and texture and serve as the foundation for the rest of your decor. "They work for just about any table, no matter the size," he says. Plus, if your table's feeling a little too minimalist for you, it can act as a source of some much-needed contrast: "Runners are also a great way to work in a pop of color."

How To Create A Small Tablescape: Utilize Alternative Decor

Another alternative (or addition to) florals to try, says Magill, is to "shake things up in terms of table decor," which is especially fun to do around the holidays. "Instead of a big floral arrangement, try scattering a selection of small pumpkins and gourds down the center of the table for Thanksgiving." Or, try another method of greenery: "A strand of garland along the top of your table runner is also a festive space-saving way to introduce a natural element and isn’t nearly as obtrusive as a huge floral centerpiece."