Natural Tablescapes for the Holiday Season

Photo credit: Shutterstock/LightField Studios

This season, drop the faux fir for a tablescape of seasonal fruits, potted plants, and foraged greenery. Natural table decor is not only more beautiful than its plastic counterparts—okay, yes, we might be biased—but it can be more economical, too. (Just be sure to inspect any decor you've scored from the great outdoors before you put it on the table, or you might end up with some uninvited guests!)

Ready to get creative? Let these 3 examples guide you as you put your own natural touch on holiday tablescapes this season.

Thanksgiving Tablescape

If you're feeling pumpkin fatigue by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, swap a cornucopia of gourds for vibrant fruits, a smattering of freshly fallen leaves, and an evergreen garland clipped from your own yard. You may have different options to play with depending on where you live, so head outside for some fall fun and grab from whatever Mother Nature has on display.

  • Use a sharp pair of pruners to clip branches from an evergreen tree or a shrub with interesting leaves. Arrange them as a long piece of garland running down the center of the table.
  • Collect several large, freshly fallen leaves you can polish up with a clean cloth, as well as any nuts that may have fallen from your trees. Scatter those around the table or tuck them down in the garland.
  • Depending on what's available to you, place fresh fruits, like oranges, pears, pomegranates, apples, crabapples, figs, berries, and—okay, fine—a few adorable pumpkins among the greenery.
  • Don't forget a couple of slow-burning candles to tie it all together and create a warm, autumnal glow. (Be sure to position them where they won't catch anything on fire!)
Photo credit: Shutterstock/WDnet Creation

Winter Holiday Tablescape

Freshen up the holiday tablescape with a potted plant as the centerpiece. For a classic Christmas vibe, opt for a poinsettia or amaryllis as the main attraction. For Hanukkah, think white paperwhites or orchids placed in a brilliant blue pot (or plan ahead and add food coloring to their water to dye them blue).

  • If your centerpiece plant isn't already in a pot that speaks to your theme, consider decorative ways to help it blend in. A burlap sack, foil craft paper, or a wreath can help disguise it. (If you decide to repot your plant, plan to leave it in the new container for at least 6 months to a year before repotting again.)
  • Lend the mood a wintry feeling by including fresh greenery: Snip some branches from a spruce or fir tree outside to create a garland or miniature centerpiece for each plate.
  • Collect pine cones or ornamental bark from a fallen tree (birch is always nice) to use as accents—they further a cozy yet festive setting.
  • Holiday tablescapes need plenty of flickering light. Whether in a menorah or as a bevy of tealights, candles are a must.
Photo credit: Shutterstock/Martha Graham

New Year Tablescape

Able to survive harsh conditions, succulents are a great way to add symbolic hope for a prosperous year ahead. Plus, their funky shapes, textures, and colors give off a celebratory feeling—the perfect match for a Champagne toast. Pull potted succulents from your own indoor garden or consider this tablescape the perfect reason to start one—caring for these no-frills plants once the decorations come down couldn't be easier.

  • String of pearls looks awesome sprawling out of a hanging basket, but the trailing vines can also make for confetti-like table garland. Snip off a few strands and lay them across the table to set a cheerful tone.
  • The rosette shape of colorful echeveria can help channel the idea of celebratory fireworks, even when you're staying in. Use them as part of the place setting or position several pots within your tablescape for pops of color.
  • Use an aloe vera plant, an intriguing cactus, or a glass terrarium as the centerpiece. Any larger focal point that creates visual interest will do!
  • Soften up the mood with a natural accent foraged from outside, such as Queen Anne's lace, chicory, or wild violets. If it's pretty and not buried under snow, add it to the table!

No matter your tablescape style, have fun with the plant world surrounding you. With a little imagination, some warm clothes, and a good pair of snips, you can easily bring what's growing outdoors to the table, while also giving your indoor greenery new ways to shine. Natural table decor can also help get the conversation flowing among your friends and family, which can be a gift unto itself.