We've hosted the extended family Christmas celebration every year for decades, but for some reason I always forget until the last minute that I have to figure out how to set the table. Then I scramble around trying to decorate it so it doesn't look the same as last year.
This year there will be a dozen of us. Years ago the kids wanted to be at their own table in the kitchen, but now that they're young adults they want to be in the main room. The dining room table seats 10 if we're sitting elbow to elbow, so the past few years I've had to get creative. I angle the table in the room, then put a card table in the corner. Our seating is a mixture of nice wood (6 that match the set) and scruffy-looking metal folding chairs.
I only have two tablecloths long enough to fit the main table when it's extended to its full length. One is white, and the other ecru. I have two large sets of napkins (red or white), and a motley collection of others. Last year I used a white-and-red motif, so I wanted something different this year, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it.
I'm pairing the runner with the ecru tablecloth and the white napkins. For the card table I'll use a white cloth that has silver and gold threads and dark maroon napkins. I may or may not incorporate strings of beads that I used several years ago.
Now that I've figured out the base of the table, I can move on to making sure the linens are unwrinkled, and the plates and silverware are ready to go.