Everyone always tells me I set a pretty table. I love to set a pretty table. In fact I look forward to setting a pretty table. I enjoy it. And so can you.
It may sound funny but I love eating at a beautiful table.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I can assure you that there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting at a splinter worn picnic table when it’s covered with boiled shrimp or oysters or crab.
Often the table comes in second place when you are sitting on a gorgeous beach or at the top of a tall building or on a blanket in the backyard.
But when it comes to Thanksgiving and I’m attempting to make an unforgettable meal, I figure I should put something into the surroundings.
After all it is said that one eats with their eyes…and I believe it to be so.
I love collecting beautiful objects whether they be heart shaped stones or seashells or pretty leaves.
I collect every feather I see and I have some pretty ones.
I don’t collect expensive things. I collect things that remind me of a place I’ve been, or a memory I’ve had.
Manservant saves the corks out of his wine bottles and writes the date and who he drank it with on each one. They are good memories.
I’ve kept sticks that have pleasing shapes.
I don’t like clutter so I tuck things in cupboards and when I need a seasonal change I just go exploring their inner depths and I always find something that gives me pleasure.
It’s hunting and gathering that creates the prettiest tables. Surround yourself with good things.
10 Tips to Setting a Pretty Table
- Everyone should own white dishes. Notice I didn’t say a set of white dishes. Frankly I love the look of assorted white dishes mixed together on a table. Just try to keep them about the same size. I tend to buy dishes, if I can, in even numbered sets. 2’s or 4’s or 6’s, that way your table blends together well.
- Glassware is fun to buy, but it is hard to buy inexpensively…well, that is if you want them to last. And though one can use a chipped plate, chipped glasses can be deadly. Well, one must be careful! I always look for a shape that’s pleasing to me. Colors? Well, it is good to start with the basics. Clear glasses are great for water or wine. But then I get into colored glass. I love cobalt blue glasses on a white table. They make the table pop and totally catch your eye. In today’s design I used light green bubble goblets. I’ve had them forever and they were ultra cheap when I bought them which means they chip easily. But I think they are pretty, so on the table they go.
- Centerpiece. Well this is where it gets interesting. In this case I really wanted to find those gorgeous ruffly ornamental cabbages in purple or green, but so far I haven’t had any luck. I had planned on putting votives in the center of each one but I guess I’ll just be using votives on their own. My table is long and narrow and there isn’t much room to play, so a long center design works well. No need for fancy flowers on this table. Pumpkins and corn are just what the doctor ordered.
- Texture. Yes, this sounds unusual but I love mixing natural elements into my designs. Did you notice my feathers tucked into the clear vases?They are so gorgeous so who needs flowers? Use your favorite scarf as a runner. Use a variety of glasses and fill them with candles. Throw some cranberries in a bowl of water. Yes, they float. And so will the votives if you add them. Fill a metal tray with cranberries or candy corn. Anything to add some color and texture to your table.
- Linens. Often I just cut up some burlap or other fabric swatches that I get at the fabric store. I don’t sew a lick so I try to cut straight pieces and then iron the edges under. But this year I scored! Cost Plus has the best accessories and I managed to snag a deep green jute runner that also meant I needed two less placemats. Since I don’t like everything so matchy matchy, I bought 4 fern printed placemats and two dark green. I’ll be able to use these all through the holidays and even into the spring, if I can go without a change for so long. The linen napkins were a double score. Let me tell you that these would be going for 3-4x the price at a high end linen store. I just love them! In this case I bought 8 because 8 is the most I have at a dinner party. If it is a big occasion I’m able to coordinate with other linens I have.
- Accents. Every table should have an accent that isn’t the centerpiece. It might be the color of the glasses, or the candles, but in my case I wanted to show off my new plates I made myself for Thanksgiving. Usually I’m too busy designing and making gifts for others, but this year I decided to make myself a gift and I think they turned out grand. I wanted them to look old and antiquey and since I love using old images, I think I achieved my goal.
- Symmetry. Make sure your table looks pretty on all sides. Make sure it balances. Notice what goes on one side also goes on the other. I know I shouldn’t have to tell you, but balance is key. Imagine the vase of flowers or the orange pumpkin with candles on both sides. Now just keep adding a little more on each side. You don’t want them to feel lonesome.
- Scale. Remember it’s nice to see those sitting across from you. So it goes without saying. No tall arrangements. You need to see over everything. Long and low with just a few tall candles, is how I fly.
- Simplicity. This table isn’t the simplest when it comes to arrangements and that’s because when I think of Thanksgiving I think of bounty. Harvests and produce and turkeys. I love those colors. But in any case, it doesn’t take much to take that pretty scarf that you own and throw some votive candles down the center of it, with a few leaves or pumpkins.
- Silverware. Use what you have. Mix and match. Just please, no plastic!
So there you have it. 10 tips for setting a pretty table. To be honest, it’s not that hard to impress people. But the most important person to impress is you. Now collect your thoughts. Think of what mood you want to convey. Elegance? Ranch? Rustic? Traditional? French Provincial? Country? Boho? And just go for it!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am grateful to you each and every day. You give me reasons to keep cooking and writing and without you my photography would be nonexistent. Enjoy your friends and your family, your dogs and your cats, eat well and be grateful. We live in a world that may not be perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got. Now please take some time and enjoy it.
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