Holiday Party Ideas: An Elegant Table With Handmade Details

Enrich your holiday party with two key ingredients: elegance and ease. Dress your table with handmade decorations and easy recipes that will make holiday guests feel special.
By: Cristina Bird and
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Be the Hostess With the Mostess

Add a personal touch to your holiday party with handmade details and simple recipes you can create in advance. From the food to the table setting and decor, follow our easy instructions to create an elegant, homey holiday gathering.

Embellished Invites

Get creative from the start with some embellished invitations that will help set the tone for the party to come. Anything goes, from burlap trim to buttons, yarn, sequin and glitter — the idea is to add your own handmade "stamp" to a simple printable invitation. To create a matching envelope liner, trace the shape of a 5-by 7-inch envelope onto scrapbook paper and cut around it, a third of an inch smaller. Then secure it to the inside of the envelopes with double-sided tape. Punch out a 2-inch printable cupcake topper with a 2-inch round paper puncher to use as an envelope seal.

Natural Tones

Take inspiration from nature and the rich colors and scents of the season with luscious cream hues, cinnamon brown and a touch of gold. For a simple DIY table cloth, find a piece of upholstery fabric large enough to fit the length of your table. Iron in about 2 inches off the the edges — no need to hem. Top with a length of burlap as a runner to create a rustic but modern style that oozes handmade elegance. Use matching scrapbook paper to embellish candle holders for a coordinated look.

Framed Menu

By framing and displaying your festive menu, you are sure to delight your guests' tastebuds even before your start serving. Simply print our blank menu cards, add your text by hand or using a digital photo editing software, and display inside a 4- by 6-inch rustic photo frame.

Seasonal Scented Wreath

Welcome guests as they sit down at the table with the aromas of spice and seasonal warmth by hanging a handmade, scented wreath from each chair. Simply wrap some burlap around a polystyrene wreath, hot-glue cinnamon sticks and dried orange slices to the wreath and tie to the chair with a piece of organza ribbon. These wreaths make for beautiful ornaments, but also serve as a great party favors for guests to take home!

Sparkly Centerpiece

Centerpieces don't have to be floral nor complicated. A pared-down display, like this one featuring spray-painted fruit and Christmas tree baubles atop a cake stand, is as chic as it is unexpected. Best of all: Unlike fresh flowers, this display will last all season.

Less is More

You don't need to splash out on new, fancy china just for the occasion; every day white plates can look chic and understated, when paired with your special occasion silverware and some simple linen napkins. Add favor boxes topped with handmade paper rosettes to finish each place setting.

Simple Place Cards

These printable place cards coordinate with the simple, neutral theme of the rest of the table setting. Add guests' names in a photo editing program, or hand-write them using festive script.

Silverware with Flair

Display your silverware with flair by placing them inside a handmade burlap pouch. Simply sew or use fabric glue to secure two rectangles of burlap together around 3 seams, leaving a opening for the cutlery. Finish the pouches with a printable vertical party label decked out with a seasonal message.

Seasonal Scents

A holiday table is never complete without candles! Carry on with the handmade theme by embellishing simple spice-scented candles with yarn, fabric appliques or a rolled rose as displayed.

Beautiful Buffet

During the season of giving, a dessert buffet offers a fuss-free way to serve the last course of a meal. This buffet features a delectable selection of sweets and cheeses to satisfy even the pickiest palate. Handmade paper stars create a backdrop for the buffet and make it as eye-catching as it is delicious.

Embellished Cake

You don't have to be a pastry chef to create a stunning cake. Your favorite everyday cake recipe will look extra-special with some clever little embellishments: a piece of gold-mesh ribbon, some paper roses and a pretty cake banner made using hand-glittered party labels from The Purple Pug.

Sweet Surprise

Make little guests feel extra-special by surprising them with a miniature version of the party cake! Simply scoop out a bit of the cake batter and bake it into cupcake molds, then top with frosting or whipped cream. Decorate them with and matching wrappers.

Color Your Food

Continue the color schemes of the party with the food and desserts, like these delicious white chocolate truffles, coated in white coconut and brown seasonal nuts. Arrange them atop a white cake pedestal to create an enticing buffet top. Crown it with a dessert topper that you create by glueing a 2-inch round printable tag onto a small wooden pick.

Cheese Cake

For guests without a sweet tooth, add a savory cheese "cake" to the dessert buffet. Stack several sizes of brie cheese wheels to look like a cake, then serve alongside crackers and seasonal fruit. You'll add height to the buffet and create a one-of-a-kind statement piece. Decorate the top of your cheese cake with a printable buffet banner secured in place by two wooden skewers.

Label Your Dishes

Serve sauces and accompaniments to your cheese and desserts in dainty little dishes so guests can help themselves. Avoid confusion by labelling each dish with a printable tag. Secure the tags to the pots with double-sided tape.

Holiday Cheers

Raise a glass and toast the seasonal by serving a non-alcoholic holiday eggnog the whole family can enjoy. Have a bottle of your favorite spirit on hand so grown-ups can spike their own if desired. Tuck a straw or cinnamon stick embellished with a printable straw flag into each glass.

Edible Decor

The best decorations are the edible kind. You can create an edible Christmas tree by securing meringues, small star cookies, macarons or cream puffs to a muslin-covered polystyrene cone using royal icing or toothpicks. Let it dry, then adorn the tree with a printable buffet banner.

Party Ensemble

Handmade fabric flowers can be added headbands and barrettes to coordinate your party ensemble with the rest of the decor. Simply cut 10 circles from a piece of synthetic fabric, varying the diameter of each circle by about half inch. Singe the edges of each circle with a lighter to stop fraying, then superimpose the circles together (starting with largest on the bottom) with hot glue. Hot glue beads to the center of each flower, and secure the flowers to the headbands.

Handmade Gifts

Handmade edible treats are inexpensive, add a personal touch to any party favor and are sure to delight the recipient. These chocolate-covered Oreos are easier than they look and can be up to a week in advance. Simply cut a round piece of a chocolate-transfer sheet featuring a coordinating design (available at baking supply shops) to fit the bottom of a straight-edged flexible cupcake tin. Pour some melted chocolate on top and chill until set. Add an Oreo cookie, then pour more melted chocolate on top to cover the cookie. Chill until set and remove from the molds to reveal a beautiful and tasty treat.

Pretty Packaging

Packaging your handmade treats into a pretty box will make them look extra-special. Paper flowers make the perfect adornment for plain cardboard favor boxes. They're also a frugal alternative to fancy gift wrapping, and will add a touch of cozy, handmade charm to any gift! Choose from old book pages, newspaper or brown kraft paper for a contrast in colors and textures. They take just a few minutes to put together, but look really impressive when paired with a printable favor tag.