Over my last few posts, I’ve been sharing some of my tips for easy home entertaining. From charcuterie boards and signature cocktails, to today’s topic – setting the scene for your dinner party! The mood you create at your table is almost as important as the food you serve! I hold several large dinner parties a year, and as much fun as I have cooking for a crowd, I enjoy creating the ‘tablescapes’ almost as much!
I tend to look at my tablescape designs in different segments:
– Place settings
Once you’ve set one or two of these aspects, everything else seems to fall into place! Are you having a large family holiday gathering? A small intimate dinner? Cocktails & appetizers only? Is there an event or theme that you want to use? I try to envision what sort of experience I want my guests to have and go from there!
This Thanksgiving, I decided to throw a fairly formal holiday supper, and use the heirloom china & wedding crystal glasses. Polished silver family pieces from my husband’s side of the family were spread around the table to provide some extra sparkle. I also wanted to create a “rustic New England” theme, mixing old school East Coast formality with country elements such as brightly colored gourds, fresh cranberries, and textured jute accents. Multiple floral arrangements create a more casual appearance, and spark additional visual interest. Rich touches such as small accents of gold and lots of little details, have brought my table to full autumn life!
Texture, levels, & color are key. You can incorporate elements from your everyday decor (see those wooden candle pillars? They’re usually on my sideboard! Those gourds? Leftover from Halloween! The decorative pumpkins? Totally a part of my usual fall decor!), but put it together in a brand new way. As a technique to tie the colors of the flowers to the rest of the table, I created a new focal point using some ordinary tall glass candle holders, and pouring fresh cranberries in, with a little tea candle on top. Color, light, and sticking to the theme?! Perfect!
I can’t tell you how many times my friends have told me how special it made them feel to see my “good plates”& silverware out for them! You are creating a special dinner – why not go all out! There isn’t any pressure to have everything match-matchy, either! One of the most beautiful dinner parties I’ve ever attended, had vintage mismatched dinner table settings and silverware found from at a local thrift shop. The results were playful & elegant!
I enjoy using the holidays as an excuse to showcase our cherished heirloom pieces. This is one of the ways that I bring our “family” to the table and it can spark the most amazing memories about the relatives who once owned the pieces. Instead of gathering dust in a box down in the basement somewhere, these beautiful items can be used and loved again!
Candles are another key feature, one that I believe makes a huge difference on your table! From several little votives spaced throughout, to elegant long tapers in silver candlesticks, the flickering romance of candlelight can help set the mood. Instead of just the standard ‘two candles on the table’, try placing a few extras around the room for added interest. Stay away from scented candles, as they can overwhelm the aromas of the supper you’ve cooked!
I love mixing natural elements on my table! This could be through the use of fresh flowers, the gourds I mentioned earlier, or even a decorative runner of wild grape vines from the yard. Start looking at your surroundings in a new way, and you’ll find loads of ideas to create a gorgeous table! You definitely don’t need to break the bank on cut flowers; go to your local grocer and find bunches of less pricey blooms – grab stems that have loads of color and texture. You can add cuttings from your houseplants, or other elements such as dried grasses or seed pods from a craft store, to make a unique bouquet!
In this display, bright sunflowers & apricot roses join dried lotus pods & grasses in my three smaller floral arrangements. I thought it would be fun to bring the outdoors to the tablescape!
Where to Shop
Need ideas or more pieces to create the table of your dreams? Head to your nearest Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, HomeGoods, Michael’s, or Target. Mix and match, hit the sales aisles, and get creative. The napkin rings & jute placemats you see? HomeGoods. The table runner? Pottery Barn. The vases holding the flowers? Upcycled glass jam jars.
I hope that my table has given you some inspiration and confidence to set your own gorgeous holiday spread! Have a happy & delicious Thanksgiving!