Tiffani Thiessen & Christiane Lemieux On How To Set The Perfect Holiday Table

Welcome to Interior Design Demystified, where Christiane Lemieux, co-founder and CEO of The Inside, identifies the latest interior design trends and explains how to make them work in your home. We know cultivating a fun, on-trend space isn't always easy — especially on a budget. That's why Christiane is bringing in the big guns — aka her friends and mentors in the business — to help break it all down for us. Think of it like having an interior designer always on call.
The act of gathering around a table can be such a fulfilling experience. Whether you’re a first-time host or an entertaining expert, an inspired tablescape is one of the simplest ways to create a welcoming environment while celebrating your personal style. And who better to share tips on holiday hosting than my good friend, actor, lifestyle guru, and cookbook author Tiffani Thiessen? After years hosting her own picture-perfect parties, she shares her top tips for creating a personalized backdrop to make beautiful memories with your loved ones – whether you’re in a studio apartment or a formal dining room.
Don't Feel Limited By Space (Or Lack Thereof)
For many of us, the coffee table is the new dining table, and this can be easily embraced during a dinner party. “Instead of taking up much-needed real estate with formal place settings, lay out family-style dishes in beautiful serving platters,” Tiffani suggests. “Simplicity is always best when it comes to décor on a small surface, whether it’s a coffee table or kitchen counter. Instead of flower arrangements that take up crucial space, opt for beautiful candlelight or bud vases for a small, sexy accent.”
Bonus tip: for extra seating and surfaces in a pinch, opt for a pair of ottomans or x-benches. Unmatched in versatility, this dynamic duo can be easily stowed for a pop of pattern when not in use.
Build Around Your Menu
Unsure of where to start? Take a look at what’s on your menu and think about ways to accentuate each dish, especially during a time of year when the food is the real star.
“If I’m hosting a less formal gathering where we’re serving charcuterie or pizzas, I love laying kraft paper out as my tablecloth and drawing place settings, with fun labels and arrows to each food,” Tiffani tells us. “It’s super fun and personal, especially since my husband’s an artist.”
“And if you’re serving cocktails, create a self-serving station that frees you up from playing bartender,” she adds. Your guests will love this just as much as you do.
Plan Ahead... And Be Practical

You can never be too prepared. “If you’re hosting guests and frantically running around, no one will enjoy themselves,” warns Tiffani. “Years ago, I started building out a dinner party prep timeline that includes everything from brainstorming table themes to wiping down servingware. The last thing you want to be doing as guests arrive is ironing linens."

A part of prep should also include working out any unforeseen kinks. “My biggest pet peeve is sitting at a table with a gorgeous floral arrangement that blocks everyone sitting across from me. Make sure you’re décor is as practical as it is beautiful! It could even be as simple as winding a garland all the way down the center of the table, on a chic table runner.”
Break The Rules & Own Your Style
Don’t forget to have fun with your tablescape, and work with what you have! “My table design totally depends on what kind of mood I’m in — almost like putting on an outfit," Tiffani explains. "I get initial inspiration from Pinterest or a magazine, and from there I’ll play around until I land on something that reflects how I’m feeling in that moment.”
“I hosted one dinner party where I realized that I didn’t have enough matching plates, so I had everyone bring their own, and each one ended up being completely different. It was a fun and light-hearted take on a potluck that ended up making for quite a beautiful and eclectic setting!”
To that end, my number one belief is in always living life beyond the beige, with no prescribed ideas and no self-imposed limitations. And your tablescape should be no different — a canvas for personal expression.
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