These days, setting a beautiful and festive table can be just as stressful as making Christmas dinner. Take some of the pressure off with these tips—some tested on Oprah's very own table.

Linens: Start with a one-color theme, such as Oprah's cranberry red, and accessorize in the same palette. Or choose other rich, festive shades, like plum, wine or rose. You might dream of white linens and candles with a centerpiece of paper-whites. Nontraditional colors like royal blue, pale pink, sage green or lilac can also be beautiful.

Serving pieces: Feel free to mix different patterns, new and antique, sterling silver and silver plate. Silver looks best with a slight patina; avoid over-polishing. Cut crystal also adds dazzle.

Centerpiece: Fill a clear bowl with greens, kumquats, oranges, crab apples or multicolored glass ornaments. Arrange a cedar wreath tied with red or gold satin ribbons around a glass hurricane lamp or candlesticks. Avoid perfumed candles, and place tall candlesticks above eye level so they don't distract. Try groupings of votives or pillars on a mirrored tray.

Finishing touches: Tie napkins with wire-edge silver or gold ribbon threaded with tiny ornaments. Make a bouquet for each place setting with miniature red roses in a silvery mint julep cup. Gift ideas for each guest: a special ornament, chocolate truffles, a jewel-tone votive.


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