Each season, I bring out new table settings. I particularly love spring and summer table settings because the colors are so cheerful and the choice of blooms so abundant. And as I always say, the prettier the table, the better the food tastes.
Setting the table is an opportunity for storytelling and a way to welcome changing seasons and celebrate new beginnings. Considering that the average amount of handbags a woman owns is 8-10, why not have at least four table settings? Most of us do at least four big events a year – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or Passover and one summer party.
I am going to show you ways that you can take the same plates and by changing napkins – whether it is with an interesting napkin ring or how it is folded – can transform the look of the table. The choice of flowers also alters the effect.
Thanks to Pier One, Pottery Barn, T.J. Maxx or the Oriental Trading Co., one can update your traditional table with added flourishes without breaking your piggy bank. It also feels “new” which gets your creative juices flowing and feels good. I try to personalize flowers for the theme of the party or event or add a special token that tells a story.
Enjoy and take these ideas and adapt them to tell your family stories.
These white plates are from my Mom. For spring, I use these leave placemats from Pier One that are copies of more expensive ones sold at Amen Wardy in Aspen. Notice how changing a napkin with a new napkin ring or folding the napkin in a new way updates the look. I also used a lily plant in one setting and then tulips in another. The tulips matched the color I used in the napkin rings. Little details alter the experience. The nest basket was also purchased at Pier One and I use them all the time. I will also add a real flower in them when I line them up for when I’m having a large dinner party.
Here a simple bunch of tulips that match the napkin ring add a dash of color as I’m preparing a new setting. Again same plate and placemat just used differently with a new color napkin and napkin ring.
Here I follow the theme I mention often. One flower arrangement in middle and smaller ones surrounding it. Instead of using small vases of flowers – which is also a great option – I used these nests and placed flowers from the main arrangement in them. Same placemats again. Notice how I use moss as a runner. It is my favorite accessory that I use for dinner parties all year round. Because we at Flower Power like to bring the outside inside at every opportunity. Another advantage is that it is a modern touch. This lace tablecloth, also from my Mom, could read as old-fashioned. Adding moss immediately updates look and makes it fresher.
This is a more traditional table using lace tablecloths and placemats. However, the concept mentioned above of using greens from outside – in this case, cut from a shrub – made the table more beautiful and modern. If you have beautiful napkins, put them in the wine glasses for impact. No one will notice if you have a stain on the tablecloth either. I later moved the place setting over a bit and voila – problem solved. Then I got to use another family heirloom tablecloth.
I purchased these silver plated birds at Target. Again, my trained eye knew these were copies of something far more expensive. They were only $12 each. When you are out, think about items that can literally dress up your table. I knew I had birds in one of my spring place settings. But the birds are fabulous in other place settings. The silver birds matched a traditional pitcher I transformed into a vase for the following place settings. Notice it is a different plate but used the same placemat that was purchased at Pottery Barn.
Last but not least, consider collecting place card holders. The above place card holders were copies of Faberge eggs I got at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. These glass ones that also hold a flower were purchased at Oriental Trading Company. They have a wide selection of options that are also priced so reasonably. Because my husband is a bike rider, I have an annual party following the 200-mile race he does in Massachusetts for his pals who ride to raise funds for cancer. I purchased bike place card holders also here. But here is a close-up of the one I use for spring and summer.
Notice how that little detail of just adding the place card holder elevates the overall effect of the table? It shows how collectively all the things you collect become special for your family. It becomes your family history and you become the architect of family memories. Furthermore, it is something to pass on to the next generation. When you live long enough, you realize how important gathering friends and family become to your most cherished memories. It is your one-way ticket to immortality by being the person who creates these festive occasions. Because no act of love is ever wasted.
– Jill Brooke