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How to Create a Tablescape in 8 Steps

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

1. Choose the table. Will you use a round that seats four or a rectangle that seats twelve? This decision will determine your centerpiece.

2. Choose the backdrop for your table. Will you use a tablecloth or not? Think of a tablecloth as wallpaper in a room. It can make a big statement. If your dishes are simple and white, a bold cloth can completely change the look. For a more elegant, and rustic feel, opt to eliminate the covering and stay with a beautiful hardwood table. If you like to change up your looks, buy an inexpensive cloth that goes to the ground and use this as your base. The colors I recommend you have on hand are white, ivory, black, and burlap. Then, invest in small toppers in a variety of different patterns to place over the base cloth. This allows you to easily change up the looks without investing in different full-sized tablecloths for each party. A runner also works well. Use these on bare tables or on top of a tablecloth. Almost any type of cloth can become a topper or a runner. One of my favorite tables we designed had a burlap base cloth with a cowhide layered on top. Does it surprise you we named this look The Cowboy?

3. Layer! It is now time to set the table. For a classic feel, stay with uniformed settings that do not stray outside the box. Colors with silver, gold, and ivory are classics. I personally like to mix things up. A salad plate from one setting and a dinner plate from another will bring variety to the table. For it to be cohesive, treat the table as you would when decorating a room. Have one common thread that ties the pieces together. A tartan charger with reds, blues, and greens will work great with the blue Spode that was given to you by your grandmother. The connection is the blue.

4. At Celebrate we like our tablescapes to tell a story, and one way we accomplish this is through our napkin rings. Just like the broach you place on your dress, or the lapel pin worn to make a statement, the napkin ring ties everything together in either a formal, informal, or whimsical way. If a more casual feel is what you are going for, you can always knot the napkin.

5. Flowers are a must! Never say never, but I do not believe I have ever had a dinner party without flowers or greenery on my table. Often, this is the only centerpiece I have. Whether you have a florist create a beautiful arrangement, or you take clippings from your own backyard, make sure you stay seasonal. Texas bluebonnets that bloom in the spring would look out of place on a Christmas table. My go-to favorite, and easy, centerpiece is to use a fully blooming floral plant. I skip the cut flowers and head straight to the nursery. This works fabulously on a round table. If your table is rectangle, small vases scattered down the length with one flower and a sprig of greenery is sometimes all you need.

6. Height is important for visual interest. Keep in mind you do not want to block the view of the guests, though. To accomplish this, keep the centerpiece under 12” or over 24”, but you can use thin candles of all sizes. Tapers or tall, narrow pillars will add great drama. Short votives scattered throughout work well, too. The more candles you have, the more drama you will bring to the table.

7. Add a bit of whimsy. I do this by creating a few “extras” for the table. For a Halloween look I will add carved pumpkins with flickering lights to my centerpiece. To vary the height of my candles I might place tapers on stacks of old books. This creates a rustic, library feel. For a coastal vibe scatter sand dollars and starfish about.

8. The last item I add, and one of the most important, is a place card. Beautiful decorations are fun to observe, but nothing makes a person feel more welcome than when they see their name. It takes away the uncertainty of where they should sit, and most importantly it conveys, “You are my special guest, and you have a place at my table.”

We offer concierge services; we will calligraphy your place cards and menus

In the end, when setting a tablescape, you only need to decide on a backdrop, a centerpiece, candles, and dishes. Keep life simple and focus on the why. The “why” is to gather around the table and celebrate the lives present. In the end, nothing else matters.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

1 Comment

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