There is no better way to show friends and family how much you care than inviting them into your home for dinner. In today’s fast-paced world, guests in your home can be overwhelming, but the real secret to entertaining is being creative and keeping it simple. The days of one person doing everything are over. House, garden , table décor and food – choose an area to emphasize while quietly compromising on the others. Make this the one thing that will wow the guests. So, let the fun begin as we concentrate on table décor creativity. Choosing a theme, holiday or season arouses excitement. For example, using tulips in February. Keep in mind: it’s all in the presentation!
Become a constant collector of all possible “props” – formal china, casual pottery, silver and all types of linens. Store them in an organized fashion so they can be easily available. If not, these collectibles will not be used as often. Be diligent in fully using these treasures but not necessarily in the manner for which they were intended. Edit your collections carefully by not using too many at a time. Guests can become confused with clutter while they will respond with interest to items creatively presented.
The choices are unlimited. First, cover the table with a layer of felt, a thin blanket or a custom-made table pad for protection. Many fabrics purchased by the yard will yield a terrific effect as a table covering. For example, burlap, gingham and florals are readily available. Quilts, throws, scarves, wraps or even blankets can set the stage for a special effect. Thinking creatively, cover the table with sheet moss in the Spring or artificial snow in the Winter. Of course, traditional placemats always provide an interesting backdrop for a chosen look. In addition, a bare, well polished table gives a Colonial setting, especially with the reflection of lighted candles. Linen tablecloths provide a beautiful, formal setting which will allow place settings to be set closer together for greater seating capacity. Whether using mirrored mats outside to reflect the stars or Grandmother’s heirloom cloth to provide formality, keep a consistent plan when selecting the rest of the parts to this picture.
China, Porcelain, Pottery
This is the element that provides the basis for your theme or seasonal plan. Begin with chargers (12 – 14 inch plates usually with brightly colored rims). They are placed on the table before the other pieces of dinnerware. Because the larger size, these plates can be used for buffets as they can hold both the salad and the entrée. At a seated meal, the charger stays on the table until time for the dessert course to be served.
When mixing patterns, the most versatile is the 7 – 9 inch salad/dessert plate as it can also become a luncheon plate or be placed under a soup bowl. This is the logical piece to change to a different but compatible pattern.
This broad category encompasses flatware, coffee and tea set, trays, serving pieces and the most revered – Kentucky Julep Cups. Nothing is prettier than well polished silver reflecting candlelight in the evening. Silver is always in style whether in the Dining Room or in the Garden. So, use it and don’t save it for the next generation – they many not want it.
May this article ignite your imagination and inspire your creativity. Call your friends, get out of your sandbox and try something new – have a Dinner Party!
Sue Ann Truitt
Etiquette & Entertaining Consultant