Christmas Dinner Table Setting Ideas You May Not Have Thought of Doing

Did you know you can set a beautiful and cozy round Christmas dining table or any shape table filled with the glow from candlelight? It can be done by repurposing items and even doing a few things that you never thought of doing before that will make your Christmas dinner table look new and different without buying anything new?

White candles in clear bottles become a budget Christmas dinner table centerpiece.

If you are having Christmas dinner at your home or hosting a Christmas party, it’s time to start planning how you want to set your Christmas dining table and what type of Christmas centerpiece you want to use.

I have a few budget-friendly and festive holiday table setting ideas that will change up the look of your dining table that won’t cost you a cent.

These ideas to set an inviting dinner table for Christmas reuse items like bottles and old Christmas cards. You may be thinking, what? But wait to you see just how festive they can look.

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You know I am all about “use what you have” to come up with new ideas to make the decor you own look new and different.

I have been quite content using my versatile all-white china and my white basket weave dinnerware to set my table every Christmas, but this year I was craving a new look and wanted to use something different for my holiday dining table.

Red and white vintage china in china closet

But at the same time, I challenged myself that I had to create the festive table while not buying anything new. How was I going find a way to make the tablescape look different from previous years using the all white china plates I always use.

I got an idea and went with it – an idea where I didn’t have to buy new china, but am using red and white china that you see in the photo above to set my table for Christmas this year.

Of course having a little DIY involved helped me with my challenge. I have found it is the best way to not only to see your creativity shine, but a way to make your holiday dinner table unique for you and your family.

What Did I Do To Set My Christmas Table Differently?

To set my table and stay true to my “not buy anything challenge”, I asked a friend if I could borrow some of her beautiful red and white china for Christmas.

China on china closet shelves

She is a collector and has large walk-in closet devoted to her collection. She is a home lover and enjoys decorating and making her house a home. She gets it and was more than happy to lend me some that she knew she wouldn’t be using herself this year. Thank you Alison :-)

Swapping China to Set Your Table for Christmas

Red and white vintage china in china closet

Borrowing or swapping china with a friend at the holidays is a great way to:

  1. Get a new look for your Christmas dinner table.
  2. Save money by not having to buy anything new.
  3. Have nothing new to find storage space for once the holidays are over.

To keep the china swapping process simple, I loaded up a large laundry basket I filled with bubble wrap, but you could use a box and newspaper.

I went to Alison’s house and chose the items I would need – dinner and dessert plates. It was hard not to want to use everything, it was all so dreamy to stand in front of and not look at price tags.

After I packed up, Alison thought the pink glasses she had would look great and offered them for me to use also.

Red and white vintage china in china closet

I wrapped the Transferware in the bubble wrap so I could safely transport it to my house. Once Christmas is over, I will wrap the pieces up again and return them to her.

Christmas tablesetting idea using old Christmas cards to accent a small candle on a dinner plate.

To complete the rest of my Christmas dinner table setting, I did rely on a few creative DIY ideas using items I already had to make the borrowed china look just right for my personal style.

I celebrate Christmas and used red, green and white colors to set my table. If you celebrate Hanukkah consider using Hanukkah cards, blue, white, gold and silver accents to create a festive table setting.

DIY clear bottle candle table centerpiece for Christmas dinner table setting.

How to Make a Candelabra Style Holiday Table Centerpiece

I wanted a candelabra style centerpiece to provide some needed height for my round table, I made one using glass bottles and candles.

White candles in clear bottles become a budget Christmas dinner table centerpiece.

How To: Easy to Make Bottle Candelabra


  • Gather 3 – 5 tall bottles. I used clear, but green wine bottles would work very well for a holiday table centerpiece or blue bottles if you celebrate Hanukkah. Clean and fill with water.
  • Set the bottles inside a wreath placed on the center of the table. Place a candle in each bottle. If the candles don’t fit, use a vegetable peeler around the bottom of the candle to make it smaller until it fits into the bottle.
  • Fill in the center of the wreath with a various sizes of red ball Christmas ornaments. Light the candles… one very pretty table candelabra style centerpiece

Festive Accent for a Votive Candle

Christmas tablesetting idea using old Christmas cards to accent a small candle on a dinner plate.

To add holiday color and vintage style that I like to see at Christmas to the table, I repurposed Christmas cards I saved from past years and made them into a way to accent a battery-operated votive candle on each guest’s plate.

Repurpose Christmas cards into a decorative accent for a votive candle on a dinner table setting.

You can find the how-to directions to make them in the post, How to Make Votive Candle Accents Using Christmas Cards.

Just like you would do for a napkin ring, once dinner is started, the candle and card wrap can be easily moved to the table above the plate so the candles still create a cozy table ambiance.

Make Round Placemats or Plate Chargers

I wanted to add an old-fashioned Christmas appeal to the table that would accent the vintage red and white china. You can find out how I made these pretty placemats in this post – Round Paper Placemats or Plate Chargers Using Paper Doilies.

Vintage red and white dinner plates on a round placemat made with paper doilies.

Using a plate charger or place mat under each place setting adds interest to the table by framing the plates.

Setting the table for Christmas with red and white plates, candles and plaid accents

Use one or the other or use both like I did. There is no right or wrong way as long as you like the way it looks. I like the way the doily placemats and plate looked in woven chargers I bought for my Thanksgiving table setting. The chargers added a nice layering effect.

How to Make Simple Fabric Napkins

I have used the same cloth napkins for years at Christmas and they didn’t look right for the table. I was even going to break my “no buying challenge”, but couldn’t find napkins I liked or that didn’t cost $35 for a set. So instead, I used a mix of leftover red plaid fabric I had to make very simple cloth napkins.

3 red plaid fabrics made into dinner table napkins.

How To: No Sew Cloth Napkins


  • Cut each piece of fabric to a napkin size of 15″ x 15″.
  • Wash the cut fabric pieces using warm water.
  • Before placing in the dryer, I used sharp scissors to remove any strands of fabric along the cut edges of the fabric.
  • Place the pieces in the dryer on high heat to give the cut edges on the fabric a smoother look. Once they are dry, snip any remaining strands and iron.
  • Fold and place on the table.

Next, I washed all the cut fabric using warm water. Before placing in the dryer, I used sharp scissors to remove any strands of fabric along the cut edges. I then placed them in the dryer on high heat to give the cut edges on the fabric a smoother look. Once they were dry, I snipped any remaining strands and ironed and folded them to place on the table.

Add a Surprise Gift Element

Since it is the holidays, a small wrapped gift for each guest is a nice way to make your guests feel special.

red and white dinner plates set on dining table for Christmas

The gift doesn’t have to be anything grand. It could be a scratch-off lottery ticket. Whatever it is, gift wrapping it and adding a few jingle bells to the package that will bring a sound of Christmas to the table that will raise the excitement of holiday gathering.

Find out How to Add Jingle Bells to a Gift Box or How to Embellish a Christmas Gift with Store Bought Confetti Bow and Jingle Bells.

A Few More Christmas Table Setting Tips

Candle placed inside a box made of old Christmas cards
  • If serving courses – layer a smaller plate on top of dinner plate. This can be from the same style of china or mix the colors and styles to coordinate with your holiday theme or color scheme.
  • If your table is small and there is not enough room for all the plates and platters of food you will be serving, have a card table or a few TV tray style tables set up around the table to place them for easy reach.
  • Consider adding a dimmer function to the ceiling light over your dining table so you can add just the right intensity of light to create a cozy gathering.

More Christmas Table Setting Ideas

To see all my Christmas ideas from decorating to cookies to gift wrapping ideas, don’t miss my All Christmas Projects Page.

DIY Christmas Table Setting Ideas Using Red

Related Posts

Here are the links to the posts to see how to make:

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10 Comments

  1. Great idea and I love that China!!! So beautiful ❤️. What a wonderful friend you have 🎄

  2. Such a pretty table!! All that transferware is just lovely. What a collection!!! I love all your ideas of using what you have and creating simple things from them! Pinned!

  3. Diane,
    I usually do not read all the comments, but I did this time and so glad I did!
    The comment from Patricia stood right out about the Hanukkah table.
    Diane, I am a bit of a china collector as is your friend Alison. Sadly, I do not have it organized like she does. I have the red/white transfer ware and also blue (Blue Willow, some Canton, some flow blue) Not near as much as your friend though. A few years back during the holidays I helped a friend stage her home for sale and as she is Jewish, she wanted Holiday but not Christmas. I used the blue ware with blue candles and lots of silver pieces. I used chargers and the doilies as well! It was a winter look, and the colors were so perfect for Hanukkah and did not look Christmas at all! It looked so much like your picture, Diane, but without Christmas and w/just the change of the transferware color. It comes out looking very much like the table you did, Diane w/the red/white transfer ware and even the little votive boxes made with the Christmas cards COULD be done with new or used Hanukkah cards! I wish I had taken a picture of the table I did for my Jewish friend. Please pass this on to Patricia.
    PS. Diane, I think YOU should collect some of the red/white transfer ware. The process of “finding” is so much fun and you do a wonderful job with it!

  4. Looks so good! Love the paper doily placemats and the plaid napkins with the china. And the votive holder adds that vintage touch. So creative!

  5. patricia nisenholz says:

    Please know Diane~ my comment was not for me personally~ I have many Hanukkahscapes I use & share~ but I have come across many people who would love to create a fun meaningful table that represents the values from our( story ( real or not?). TY for responding.

    1. Patricia, there is also a blog by Rebekah Lowin, where she has beautiful tablescapes, recipes and other decorating ideas for Hanukkah and all the Jewish holidays. It’s a lovely site!

  6. So many fun tips! Love the borrowing of dishes idea. Have to say those votive candle holders by repurposing old cards is genius.
    You always stir up my creative side from your posts. Creativity does not come easy to me so I appreciate the tips especially the really creative ones. This year I took red and green 1” jingle bells and filled a round rose bowl shaped vase. The vase has Rudolph faces all around the bowl. Then I stuck candy canes into the bells. We don’t have grandkids but I love the whimsey of it. Keep the ideas coming😍

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi June – Thanks for sharing your decorating ideas. I really like how you used the jingle bells in the vase… so cute. Enjoy creating your own one of a kind decorations.

  7. patricia nisenholz says:

    As always ~ inspiring! But~ We do not celebrate Xmas~ and I am quite sure I am not your ONLY reader & fan who is feeling left out. What about adding a Hanukkahscape? Many of your suggestions can be altered ~ to fit a theme~ blue/white blue/gold/ blue silver.. candles.. lots. Happy to talk thru with you🙏🏻
    Patti

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patti – Sorry that I didn’t include that you can do any of the ideas I share in the post using a Hanukkah theme or colors like blue, white, gold and silver or any color scheme. I will add it to the post as I do realize finding ideas for Hanukkah can be limiting.

      I know the big magazine blogs like BHG, House Beautiful and Martha Stewart post round-up style posts covering all topics about how to decorate for the season, including Hanukkah. Have you ever found ideas on these sites?