I can hardly believe Thanksgiving is less than a week away and Christmas will soon follow. 2016 will be gone in the blink of an eye. I’m starting to get myself in to the holiday frame of mind and am always thinking ahead to the next big gathering. I won’t be playing host to any big parties this year, but I’m still starting to dig out some of my holiday décor and I can’t help but think about the perfect tablescape for any occasion.
Designing a tabletop has always been pretty natural for me. But I’ve started to pay more attention to the why and the theory that’s behind all of these natural behaviors I have. So today I’m sharing 5 of my personal tips for making your next dinner (or breakfast or brunch) party the best ever. Or at least slightly more function, beautiful and fun.
Think about the overall tone you’d like to set for the meal. How will it be lit? Candlelight adds some romance and charm while overhead lighting allows for Dad “to be able to see what he’s eating”. Taper candles are more formal and while pillars and votives are slightly more casual but still very warm and inviting. Adding varying heights to your candles will add glow all around (and dimension, which we’ll talk about later).
The types of plates, glassware and napkins will also play a big role in this tone. Delicate, gold rimmed bone china will be fancier than pottery or more simple ceramic plates. Stemmed glassware is generally more elegant than a ball glass.
Then consider your guests. Who will be attending? Is this adults only or should you make the table more fun for kids (or pets!?) who might show up for the party?
I personally love to mix up shapes. I think it adds another level of interest. Round plates are a predictable element on a tabletop. However, mixing it up by adding square gives the design a modern, unexpected twist. I also love rectangular dining tables for this reason.
There are also some less obvious lines to pay attention to. Think of the row that your table runner is creating. There’s a curved lined created by the arch of the taper candles. Smooth and steady lines create a more calming environment. Arched lines feel more elegant. And a lack of lines all together will feel a bit chaotic and not give your eye a place to rest.
A general rule: round feels more feminine and romantic, softer. Straight is clean, simple and more modern feeling.
This one is huge. You can put all the beautiful things in the world on your table, but if it doesn’t have a function or purpose, then it’s just clutter. Start with the items you actually need for your meal – glasses, plates, silverware, napkins. You can play with the patterns and layouts of these things and make them really beautiful. Choose platters and cutting boards that can decorate as well as be used as serving pieces. Add bread baskets or domes for service of pastries and rolls.
And please don’t try to tell me that centerpieces don’t have a function because I highly disagree. They serve as a focal and anchor point for the table. They can be a conversation starter and an extra piece of pretty for the day – just make sure they’re not disrupting your view across the table because no one enjoys that.
Stacks of dishes on a table add an extra element of dimension. Keeping all items on the same horizontal plane can feel rather dull but varying heights keep your eyes roaming the table and looking for more (and then they can rest on your lovely centerpiece J).
But again, make sure there’s function to the pieces you choose. If you don’t need an extra plate on the table, don’t use it. Or if you really have your heart set on displaying some gorgeous porcelain bowls, serve soup. Napkins can easily be folded to add height and napkin rings are a fun way to add extra, non-intrusive décor.
We’ve all been there. You set the most beautiful holiday table with glittering ornaments, flickering candles and the most gorgeous floral centerpiece. There’s only one problem, there’s no place the set the food. Using petite budvases, miniature votive holders and other small scale items makes it easier to tweak the table setup as plates are being passed and food is served.
Have other tips or tricks? I’d love to hear them! I’ll be sharing my full Thanksgiving tabletop design next week. Have a great weekend!