Simple Formula for Dinner Table Setting at Any Occasion

This post is sponsored by Better Homes & Gardens at Walmart.

A quick guide to create a simple dinner table setting for any occasion or holiday using tricks to make inexpensive dinner table decor look upscale.

a dining room styled with a simple dinner table setting for any occasion

We are not set-the-table kind of people when it comes to the every day. (I mean, more often than I probably should admit, it’s a cereal-devoured-while-sitting-on-the-couch kind of situation around here.)

But when it comes to having friends or family over for a nice meal in our dining room, there is a go-to simple formula for a dinner table setting that I’ve used for years for basically every occasion (or no specifically special occasion at all).

And I use some tricks to make inexpensive items look upscale. Some of my favorite inexpensive dinnerware and dinner table decor I’ve used for a long while came from the Better Homes & Gardens line at Walmart.

BHG Walmart Logo
dinner table decor in a dining room with summer centerpiece, neutral dinnerware, and charcuterie board

The Simple Formula for Dinner Table Decor at Any Occasion

So if ever you find yourself hosting a nice dinner and you’re stumped on how to set a simple dining room table, these are some of my favorites broken down in this post.

(P.S. You can see more info about the DIY tutorials, paint colors, and sources in our dining room makeover here.)

But first, here are some tricks to make dining table basics look upscale.

How to Make a Dinner Table Setting Look Upscale with Versatility for Every Holiday

  • Choose a neutral color scheme for your dinnerware and linens
  • An herb sprig, leaf, or place card can make an ordinary plate feel special
  • Think about what in-season flowers or stems you can snip from your yard (or even roadside with permission)
  • Candles add a lot for very little
  • Let the food double as the decor (plus, it’s more practical than knick knacks)
summer dinner table setting with charcuterie board and simple flower centerpiece

1. Choose Neutral Dinnerware

The best reason to stick to white, gray, beige, or black dinnerware is because it gives you the freedom to choose any color scheme you want for any occasion and any floral arrangement!

Maybe some would call neutral dishes “boring”, but by using it as a blank canvas, you have the ability to set the tone for any holiday in a simple table setting.

I love this speckled exposed clay dinnerware set that we’ve owned for a couple of years. They’re so sturdy (even with our kids banging them around), and since they’re stoneware, we can put them directly in the oven.

It’s easy to find neutral dishes at the thrift store too (even pricey, vintage types), so keep an eye out on your next thrifting trip.

charcuterie board and simple place setting with a rosemary sprig

2. Add a Place Setting Accent

See how versatile this speckled gray dish set is?

Add a sprig of rosemary, a handwritten place card, or a leaf at each place setting for an important holiday.

It’s definitely not something to do every day, but that one little accent makes Thanksgiving, an anniversary, or a birthday feel extra special.

We picked magnolia leaves from our yard last fall, rinsed them to put at each Thanksgiving place setting, and our oldest daughter wrote names on them with a silver permanent marker.

fall place setting with magnolia leaf place card and low centerpiece using leaves and pears

3. Snip What’s In Season as a Dining Room Centerpiece

Walk around your yard (or a friend/neighbor’s yard with permission) to snip whatever is in season.

Our hydrangea bushes are always bursting this time of year! And I love that they’re so easy to arrange with a few green stems in the mix. (Or you can dry hydrangeas for a simple fall dining table centerpiece.)

I just stick whatever flowers or stems I can find in a neutral vase like this clear pedestal vase.

vase of hydrangeas, simple place setting of gray dishes and sprig of rosemary, cake dome, and serving bowl of salad
simple dining table centerpiece with hydrangeas and eucalyptus leaves for summer

I love cutting a few ginkgo stems from our ginkgo tree in the front yard when it turns bright yellow every fall.

fall dinner table decor with vase of ginkgo stems

Or skip the vase altogether and just spread out green stems directly on the table as a low dining room centerpiece for holidays.

Last fall, I cut a few purple leafy stems from the loropetalum bushes in our backyard and nestled in a few pears for a simple Thanksgiving centerpiece that anyone could arrange themselves.

Thanksgiving dining table centerpiece with leaves and pears and candlesticks

For Christmas, I cut hemlock and cedar branches to create a low Christmas centerpiece and added in a few dried orange slices with orange pomanders I made with the girls.

I added some juniper berry branches that I snipped from a tree in our girls’ school parking lot (with permission, of course).

Christmas dining table centerpiece with leaves and dried oranges slices and candlesticks

4. Use Candles for Glow

Just a pair of candlesticks can make a simple dinner table setting come to life. There’s something about the flicker of the flame that makes a birthday or anniversary dinner feel sort of magical.

We play a little game in our house with our girls – when the candle on the table is lit, we act fancy and practice our table manners. (My parents and grandparents did the same thing with my brother and me growing up, and it’s one of my favorite memories.)

charcuterie board, candlesticks, and vase of flowers for simple dinner table decor

5. Let the Food Be the Decor

You don’t have to fill up the center of the dinner table with knick knacks or clutter every open space with decor.

Let the table “breathe” and instead keep places in the center open for serving dishes or a charcuterie board.

My favorite serving dish is this acrylic multifunctional 5-in-1 cake dome that can be used as a cake stand, divided serving tray, chip & dip server, punch bowl, or serving bowl. And it works perfectly outdoors since it’s break-resistant.

I use this white footed bowl all around the house not just for serving food on the dinner table but also as a fruit bowl on our kitchen counter or for growing paper white bulbs as a winter dining table centerpiece.

dinner table serving dishes - cake dome, salad bowl, vase of flowers

This round cutting board is the perfect size and shape for making a charcuterie board for 6. I can’t believe it’s from Walmart! It looks like it came from a high end shop.

charcuterie board with meats, cheeses, crackers, jams, fruit, nuts, and honey
charcuterie board with meats, cheeses, crackers, jams, fruit, nuts, and honey

6. Opt for Black or Gold Flatware

We bust out this black flatware or gold flatware for special dinner table settings just to add a little punch of something beyond the usual silver.

It’s something so small that adds so much.

dinner table decor with simple place setting, wine glasses, charcuterie board, candlesticks, and vase of flowers

That’s our dinner table decor breakdown! It’s a lot of simple small details that add up to be something special on the occasions we want to feel fancy.

Although, don’t worry… most of the time, we’re eating messy tacos over paper plates. Just in case this post gives the impression that we eat candlelit “pinky up” meals every single day. 😉 Yeah, no. That sounds exhausting.

But doing the special dinner table setting thing is nice every so often to put down the phones, turn off the electronics, and enjoy each others’ company. Setting the table this way encourages us to do that.

Dinner Table Setting Sources

Here are all of the Better Homes & Gardens dinner table decor items I used from Walmart.

You can see more info about the DIY tutorials, paint colors, and sources in our dining room makeover here.

dining room with mural wallpaper, shaded chandelier, linen chairs, black chairs, oval dining table, and simple dinner table decor

Got any other dinner table setting tips you use yourself?

Have you hosted an unplugged, phones-down dinner lately? Even without the lit candles and flowers? No matter what the table looks like, it’s the quality time that matters more than anything.

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A quick guide to create a simple dinner table setting for any occasion or holiday using inexpensive dinner table decor from Walmart.

The post Simple Formula for Dinner Table Setting at Any Occasion appeared first on Bless'er House.