The yearly tradition of decorating your home for the holidays doesn't necessarily have to include decking the halls with flashy tinsel or showy sparkles. For an elevated look, there's no need to go overboard with a theme. Instead, focus on subtle details, chic color schemes, and items that you'll love long after the seasons have changed.
In search of the best holiday coffee table décor ideas for a look that's at once festive and sophisticated, we tapped five interior design pros for their tried-and-true advice. According to them, it's all about simplicity, layers, and breaking the rules of traditional holiday colors and patterns. Ahead, find out how five design experts would carefully craft a chic coffee table for the holidays. Take note of their innovative, design-forward ideas and shop their affordable products picks below. The products are all $30 or less so you can save the splurging for timeless décor that you know you'll use year-round.
Create a sophisticated centerpiece.
"When decorating a coffee table for the holidays I try not to get too themed with it. [I] create sophisticated centerpieces that can see me through the whole winter," interior designer Ginny Macdonald explains. Her picks for the perfect holiday spread include brass candlesticks, a bell jar, and a vase.
"First thing I do is bring out some festive taper candle holders, which are usually vintage brass or wood," Macdonald says. "I like to combine different heights and sizes so they feel collected and not too matchy."
In order to create the wintery feel Macdonald was accustomed to growing up in the UK, the L.A.-based designer recommends finding a cloche or bell to create the perfect coffee table scene. "Add a collection of wooden or ceramic trees to create a tasteful winter scene as a centerpiece to the table," she explains.
"I like to add some branches onto my coffee table, such as eucalyptus or white hypericum berries, which look and smell like coffee beans," says Macdonald. She suggests finding a vase with a narrow neck like this one to help the plants stand up tall.
Layer your tablescape.
Interior designer Rian Smith suggests layers. "Creating layers on your tablescape during the holidays will not only help your space feel cozy and textured but will also help you to unwind and relax during the holiday season," she says. She suggests starting with flat objects before adding different sized decorative pieces.
She also emphasizes the importance of selecting pieces that will last throughout the seasons. "By creating a cohesive color palette that will transcend through the holiday season, you’ll be setting your table up to be the centerpiece no matter the occasion," Smith says. Her go-to colors are deep greens, soft whites, and rich shades of plum and mulberry.
"Twinkly lights are the perfect added touch for the holiday season," according to Smith. "They provide a soft warm glow that will create your cozy and festive space." The designer suggests placing them inside a glass dome and maybe even wrapping them around a faux plant to add dimension to a coffee table. "Even if not placed in the glass dome, you can lay these over your table to create a snow effect during the winter holidays," she says.
Smith also suggests displaying a candle as part of your holiday coffee table décor. "The warmth of the flame mixed with the scent you selected will create a cozy and inviting feeling throughout your home during the holiday season," she says. "I like this cedar and vanilla blend as it reminds me of the outdoors during the winter months and baking with family and friends during holiday gatherings."
Display this beaded garland over a tray or allow it to fall across the table. "Because it's a neutral wooden material, it will add warmth and texture to your setting while also complementing your other pieces," Smith states.
Keep it simple and contained.
According to celebrity interior designer Cheryl Eisen, the most important thing to keep in mind when decorating your coffee table for the holidays is to keep it simple and contained. She suggests using decorative bowls and cake plates to hold treats and décor while creating varying levels.
She also recommends breaking free from traditional holiday color schemes. "I like to opt for a softer combination of silver, gold, and white," the designer explains.
"Chic, stylish ornaments are another way to fill your decorative bowls," according to Eisen. "CB2 has a great selection of inexpensive, festive ornaments in neutral and metallic tones and patterns like these."
Eisen suggests using a "funky" bowl like this one to decorate your living room. "I love to put remotes in it to keep things organized, or put wrapped candies in them during the holidays," she says.
According to Eisen, varying heights of cake stands make a great addition to a holiday coffee table spread. "Cake stands adorned with candles and string lights are one of my favorite accents for coffee tables, especially around the holidays," she adds.
Find cozy but functional pieces.
Interior designer Haley Weidenbaum advises picking cozy décor for your holiday coffee table, but also ensuring you integrate items that you might want to use throughout the season. "A well-accessorized coffee table can take a space from feeling sparse and cold to welcoming and comfortable," she says. Think about incorporating things like coffee table books, candles, coasters, and games for when it's too cold to go outside.
The design pro suggests topping your table with a fun coffee table book to inspire the year ahead. "[Display] a book that lets you dream big from your living room," she says.
"Wood coasters give that rustic cabin-like feel," according to Weidenbaum. These are perfect for protecting your coffee table from your warm cup of hot coffee or tea.
Weidenbaum points out that a quirky little game like this is small enough to sit on your coffee table and will give you something to do when you're hunkering down indoors and out of the cold. "It's a great way to get everyone involved in a fun game around the coffee table," she says.
Incorporate natural elements.
"I like to have a coffee table that has both dimensionally high and low items," interior designer Nancy Mayerfield explains. She suggests featuring natural textures and incorporating whimsical features. "For the holiday season, I generally think of cozy and more natural elements," she continues. She describes her picks as whimsical, natural, and clean.
"I love the whimsy of the gold painted pine cones," the designer says. She suggests crafting pine cones like this yourself as a DIY project if you have the time and are looking for a fun holiday project.
According to Mayerfield, this stoneware vase brings in an element of height. "Once filled with the fresh long needle pines, it will fill the immediate area with a holiday smell," she explains.
Mayerfield recommends using a wooden tray like this to hold decorative objects. Plus, when in the doubt, it can be used for function in addition to decoration. "If needed, the tray can do double duty when entertaining," she says.