Creating a beautiful table setting is easy to learn! Here are some of my simple tips for making your tables look polished and party-ready…
You can never go wrong with a crisp white tablecloth. I love the look of them~ and white makes it easy to build on creativity. Here I started with a white tablecloth and used dark, rattan, woven placemats to create a contrast. I had flowers left over from this charity event that I did, and so the flowers were my inspiration for the rest of the table. The peach and coral tones of the flowers were so pretty with white. I complemented those colors with green and brown.
When you have cut flowers, you can arrange them in a variety of vases or containers. I like to mix and match metals and porcelain or pottery because of the different textures. In these photos, I used mini mint julep cups for the cut roses and ranunculus. I grouped several together to make a runner in the middle of the table. I wanted to add a little bit of organic greenery to the table with the cut flowers. I potted mint plants in textured white pottery and mingled the pots in with the fresh flowers…
If you prefer to keep the look crisp with the color popping off of the white tablecloth, you can instead use a clear vase or other clear container to put a larger bundle of cut flowers as the star of the table. The smaller julep cups spread down the table give the illusion of a grand centerpiece that tapers from middle to ends.
Either way, you have two beautiful options for a fantastic centerpiece. Which do you like better? The cut flowers or the flowers mixed with mint plants?
Now that you have decided on your centerpiece, add dinner plates and salad plates to the placemats or chargers that you have set. A set of white plates is a safe and really useful investment. Here, I used a white dinner plate with a white salad plate trimmed in gold. To add in color and contrast, I used a patterned green napkin and vintage glasses with green stems. Simple flatware goes well with this table setting. I chose silver, but gold would also look great! I like to mix metals and liked how the silver flatware played off of the silver mint julep cups.
There was also a little touch of silver on the center container of flowers. I actually used an ice bucket as a vase and filled the bucket with flowers in a really unstructured way. I love when flowers look a little bit askew. :). To me, that makes the table more inviting and comfortable rather than stuffy. (Don’t get me wrong, I also love a really formal place setting at the right time, too!)
The final step in this simple place setting is to add a name card for each place. If you saw my video of this tablescape on Instagram, then you saw that I suggested adding a Clementine orange as a nice touch to tie together the entire table. And, if you would like to take it a step further, add a name to the orange. To add the name, use a toothpick to make a small hole in the skin of the orange. Slide a piece of intentionally torn paper with a handwritten name on to a small twig of berries/buds. Place them on the toothpick and voila! Your table is set with thoughtful and beautiful touches. Enjoy!
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. below. Happy celebrating!
Windy O’Connor is an artist that brings happiness and joy through her bold artwork. After you meet Windy in person, you will understand why! She is as vibrant and lovely as the art that she creates! Here is where you can find Windy O’Connor’s art.
Windy sent two of the table runners that she made using her artwork applied to fabric. I am fascinated by the patterns that she is able to create in her home line and loved seeing the design applied to items that can be used for everyday living. There was an Italian feel to this particular design, and so I set an outdoor table on our porch that became the perfect place to gather our family for dinner.
I like to add a solid white or ivory colored table cloth when I set a table using a pattern like the one on Windy’s vivid art work. She uses bold patterns and colors, and so I temper that with a calm solid. This also lets the artistic table runner be the star of the show.
You can see that I used Italian mugs from Vietri and then added a solid linen napkin (with a touch of French) to the table. The chargers are solid white and the green plates (from PKL Celler) have a lettuce leaf pattern on them. The stripes are the only other real pattern that I included on the table- and that was done sparingly so not to overwhelm the tablescape. It adds depth and interest without conflicting with the vibrant table runner.
Having a table linen as your jumping off point to styling a table is a great way to begin to visualize the entire experience that you want to create for your family and/or friends. Sometimes I surprise myself at where my mind goes when I start picturing the gathering that I am creating. It’s a little bit like traveling to me- you add in as many ways to evoke the feeling of a place and a time. Each gathering that you host has its own story and adventure- and no matter how many times you visit the same table, you have a different experience to enjoy each time.
I love the casual feel of outdoor table settings, don’t you? They feel casual but also really special. I think that is what makes them also give the feeling of a warm welcome~ because they are approachable while being out-of-the-ordinary.
Think of how you want your guests to feel like they can pull up a chair and pour themselves a glass of water or wine. They don’t have to wait to be asked or allowed- they just know they are welcome to relax and enjoy a slow pace for a minute. They can linger at the table and enjoy the people and the conversation while they enjoy a meal. Since we all have to eat, why not make it memorable?
One trick that I like to do if I am having a small crowd (1-3 people) and want the table to feel cozier is to fill the table space at one end. It is almost as though you create a little room at the end of the table and then create a beautiful “wall” around it. We are all so programmed to create a centerpiece (which is one of my favorite parts of a table), but also try moving the centerpiece down closer to the end of a longer table. This creates a homey, cozy feel and allows you to use taller pieces because no one needs to see over it.
You could serve food family style and have room at the other end of the table to place your serving dishes. I like the coziness of a larger table made smaller by using plants or items around your home that fit perfectly into a table scape.
Being able to use your outside spaces or a space by a window is always an added bonus. Bringing nature into your home feels us with a happiness that spills over to our guests. Bring the outdoor colors inside with your table linens even if the weather is not perfect for outdoor dining.
But, if the weather allows, I say jump to it and enjoy those moments. There is no telling what stories are waiting for you to create with your family and friends.
This Easter is one for the literal history books as we all celebrated this holiday in a way we have never done before! With a shelter-in-place order throughout the US, we gathered around our tables with our immediate families and around our computer screens with our extended families and friends. Wanting to make the day extra special, we scoured our homes for ways to set our tables without a lot of the extras that we might have added under more normal circumstances. For me, it was nice to make the table look festive and happy- and our family of four seemed to appreciate the change of pace from the everyday.
The first thing I did was to “shop my house” and find colorful items that I thought would work well together and look like Easter. At first, I thought the table would end up looking more formal. It ended up being playful and whimsical. It was perfect for us- my kids seemed to enjoy it that it wasn’t “stuffy” but that I mixed in some of our nicer pieces (with a reminder to “go easy” on them).
I did not originally plan to use the plaid plates, but decided that it was the perfect way to break up the solid colors on the other plates. I also used glass bread plates and glass bowls on the tables for color and contrast.
Last year, I bought a hand-painted ostrich egg from Pippa Goetz and loved her Easter artwork so much. I decided to add another one this year and pre-ordered in January or February. The egg arrived and I unpacked it for Easter after I had “quarantined” the package for a while. This year’s egg is also a stunner…the chinoiserie scene that Pippa painted is so beautiful and happy. The colors are so vibrant- I kind of don’t want to put the eggs away after Easter. Notice the different pagodas on the different sides of the egg…
Other pieces that I love to use on tablescapes are the 2 matching artichoke bowls with lids. I use those a lot in place of flowers because the colors are so pretty and the design is so artistic. I also put my hydrangea arrangement in the center of the table. My son is allergic to flowers and could not have real flowers in our house for several years. I invested in a few beautiful arrangements from Boxwoods in Atlanta to mimic real ones as closely as I could.
After playing around with different plates and place settings, I finally decided on this one…cheerful, bright and whimsical.
I made each place setting a little different~ and I loved using my moss bunnies on the table. I bought the 2 larger ones several years ago at Appointments at Five in Athens, and the small moss bunny was a gift from PKL, The Cellar. They are perfect for adding in a feel of nature especially because I didn’t have flowers.
We have a chandelier that hangs over our breakfast table and I love to add decorations to it (here you can see New Year’s Eve ideas for hanging decorations). For Easter, I hung gingham fabric carrots on green ribbon and suspended them from the chandelier.
It all came together- imperfectly perfect for us for this different type of Easter. Although it was different, it was a sweet and simple day. It is an Easter I hope my kids always remember. They slept late and ate breakfast just before we watched our preacher live stream his sermon. He was alone inside the sanctuary of our church and stood on the stairs in the front. He preached his sermon and sent a message that we all learned from~ all 1000 viewers, I would bet. My daughter mentioned that if 1000 people were showing as watching the live stream, there could be 4 people per computer like we were. We were amazed at the number of us all together while we were all separated by this virus.
I look forward to celebrating in person with our community next year, but I am also grateful for the slow morning, the captive audience that our preacher had at our home while he spoke, and the feeling of togetherness that can’t accurately be described.
Our table was set to be served a simple meal while our hearts and minds were re-set to be mindful and grateful for all that we have.
We ended our day with a Zoom call with my parents, sister, and nieces. My oldest niece was heading into work as a physician’s’ assistant in a hospital in NYC. We ended up talking less about Corona and laughing more about the silly backgrounds that they were all putting on their screens. My parents were trying to keep up with it all and enjoyed every second of the silliness. I did, too. What an unusual way to celebrate Easter, but what a beautiful way to celebrate Easter.
Setting a smaller table for Easter can be beautiful. Look around your home and find items that add color and joy to the table and start with those. Even when we don’t have an elaborate flower centerpiece, we can make our tables so pretty and special!
For this easy table setting, I used my pastel pottery dishes from MacKenzie-Childs. They are painted with flowers and have ruffled edges- which give them a happy, playful touch. I also put a white tablecloth on the table first, and then added a table topper. The topper has embroidered flowers at each corner. Because flowers are in short supply in my area right now, I loved adding in florals through embroidery. On top of the tablecloths, I added blue and white floral placemats from Oconee Printing/Eldridge Stationers.
The placemats are the perfect complement to the blues in the pottery and the table linens. I wanted to napkins to mostly blend in and so they are a simple blue and white stripe with a close pattern repeat- they almost look like a solid color.
The stack of dinner plate/ salad plate/ small bowl makes a pretty visual as the patterns are mixed and matched. I added boxwood clippings from our yard and then a pear to add some details to the table. I tied a really simple sheer ribbon around the stem of the pear to give it a little oomph. :). You could also attach a name card to the pear stem if you wanted to feel a little fancier.
As a centerpiece, I used an antique Majolica vase that had flowers painted on it in pastel colors. The colorful vase makes up for the fact that I am not able to create a bigger centerpiece. It creates a nice focal point and looks bright and cheerful on the table with boxwood clippings and azalea blooms.
Crystal glasses look so pretty on this table full of soft colors. I like how the cut glass offers a little bit of a pattern but then blends right in to the table. It shows off the colors of the table well to have clear glasses.
For an additional pop of fun and flowers, I added the whimsical butter dish to the table. The oversized design, the braided handle, and the happy colors painted on the dish make it a conversational piece for any table setting. No one has ever enjoyed butter more than in this fun little (big) dish!
Another way to add in pretty colors is through an Easter dessert. I love making edible bird nests each spring- and my family loves eating them almost faster than I can make them! I make mini versions in mini muffin tins to use as toppers for Easter desserts. I added them to the dessert ramekins for this table…they are perfect toppers for ice cream, mini cakes. cupcakes, a slice of pie or cake. I was able to find edible Easter grass at Target at the end of February. I saved it for decorating food for Easter and have tried to use it in a variety of ways. This is one of the easiest and most fun ways to add it in to your Easter brunch or lunch.
I also added in some warm gold touches with flatware and drink coasters. Setting a table for one or two can be a fun creative experiment with what we have around our homes. Don’t be afraid to try something new or to use an object around your house that you may not have thought of before. And, even when we have few flowers, we can still find a way to add springtime to our tables through prints, florals, colors and a little bit of imagination. I hope you all enjoy Easter around your table, no matter how big or small!
Happy April FOO Day, Friends! April 1 was just begging to be re-named with these fun ideas for your home using foo (or fu) dogs!
I have to confess that it took awhile for foo dogs to grow on me. As a child, I always thought they looked too scary. Which, is really the point of them after all. They didn’t look like any dog I had ever wanted to pet. With the confusion of a dog that looked like a scary lion, I just didn’t take to them well.
Interestingly enough, my reaction as a child was exactly the emotion that foo dogs were meant to evoke. What is also interesting to me is that they originated in China, and the Chinese refer to them as lions. We Westerners came up with the name “Foo/Fu Dog”.
The purpose of a foo dog was to be a symbolic guardian. With each pair representing a male (typically holding a ball/globe) and a female (typically holding a pup), the pair guarded a home and the occupants inside of it. Originally, foo dogs were large, imposing figures for the outside of the home. As time passed, smaller versions were created for inside the home. And, the smaller versions are what won me over- especially the ones in beautiful colors.
For April FOO Day, I set the table for Foo, Party of Two. I really wanted to just have some fun with this table~ to make it pretty and different. On April 1, it feels like anything goes! I layered seagrass placemats (from Appointments at Five), white and gold dinner plates, and beautiful pink floral salad plates (from Parker Kennedy Living)
For table linens, I used my great-grandmother’s hand-embroidered table scarves. I layered one as a tablecloth and then added one between each plate and seagrass placemat.
I didn’t intend for the table scarves to be used as napkins but instead to be a layer to soften the look between the seagrass and the china. I wanted to add in the soft colors and hand-embroidery to complement the pattern on the china. For napkins, I wanted to have something that was sturdy and stronger, just like the premise behind the symbolism of the foo dog. And so, I chose a classic blue and white stripe~ with a blue and white chinoiserie napkin ring…
Don’t you just love the chinoiserie beaded napkin rings?? I think having the blue and white beads on blue and white napkins offers a really subtle detail. It isn’t as noticeable at first, and so it is a nice surprise to see~ and it’s a way of tying in the origin of the foo dog. The beautiful napkin rings are from Designs by Laurel Lee
To top off the place setting, I placed a turquoise foo dog in the center of the plate. What a fun and unexpected table guest! This particular foo dog is an antique piece from Parker Kennedy Living, but they have similar ones available.
For the center of the table, I added in the floral arrangement that I made from boxwoods and azaleas from our yard. I put the clippings in a glass and then placed the glass inside my square blue and white cache pot.
I really like the bright look of the gold flatware on the table- it plays off the gold in the plates and the cache pot.
The vintage turquoise glasses were the finishing touch and the perfect way to tie it all together. Wouldn’t this be a fun table to set for your friends and family?
No foolin’, I am wishing you a wonderful April Foo Day. I hope that you come back often for fun ideas to make your everyday life at home a bright and cheerful experience! To see more ideas for adding foo dogs to your home decor, stop by join the Foo Party on Instagram too!
It was an honor to be asked to participate in a fundraising event in our town called La Table. The idea behind the event is that each table has a host or hostess that chooses his or her own theme. The host/hostess invites friends to join him or her at the table!
I was thrilled to design a table for this year’s event. This is the 9th year that La Table has been hosted by Family Promise of Athens. Family Promise is a group that includes volunteers from churches in the area who provide temporary housing for displaced families. It’s an incredibly valuable organization and one that I am so happy to help.
The theme that I chose for my table was “Mint to Serve”- and I alluded to mint throughout the table decorations. My inspiration for the theme came from a gathering at The Southern C where B. Claire Events provided each person a chance to create their own floral arrangement in a mini mint julep cup. I fell in love with the mini julep cups and wanted to do something fun and pretty with them. In contrast to the mini julep cups, I borrowed an enormous silver urn to mimic the cup. The large urn was loaned to me from European Floral Design.
The blooming branches in the center urn and all of the cut flowers were also from European Floral Design. I described the color scheme and my ideas to Brett at EFD and she ordered the gorgeous flowers for me.
I was able to borrow large and medium sized mint julep cups from European Floral Design to mix in and around the table. I filled the cups with all of the beautiful ranunculus, tulips, roses, and berries. I wanted there to be an explosion of colorful flowers surrounded by mint plants. I added name cards on rough-edged paper with hand-written names.
I bought mint plants from Lowe’s and potted them in white planters from European Floral Design. Initially, I wanted about twice as many plants on the table, but I scaled it back to give us all room to have food! 🙂
At each place setting, I used my woven rattan chargers and topped them with gold and white dinner plates. On top of the dinner plates, I used antique Rose Medallion plates (bought from Appointments at Five). I added a mini mint julep cup filled with flowers and mint leaves on top of each Rose Medallion plate.
I was also lucky enough to have Lemondaisy Designs offer to send cocktail napkins to be a part of the table top. I thought the julep cup art on each cocktail napkin was perfect! The mint leaf garnish was the perfect touch to go with the green polka dots, too!
For table linens, I chose tablecloths and napkins from Lindroth Designs. I ordered the same pattern in 3 different colors so that I could play with the colors but keep it cohesive. I placed the green tablecloth over the round table and draped the other two tablecloths around the centerpiece.
The flowers were the same colors as the linens…
Because this was a fund-raiser, the tables were meant to be a bit over-the-top rather than traditional. The oversized centerpiece was to make a statement rather than to enjoy conversation over. That is part of the fun of this event- the tables are more extravagant than everyday life!
This was such a joy to put together. It was also so nice to enjoy with a table full of friends and a room full of giving hearts. Wishing you all a beautiful day and hopefully some inspiration to create colorful table settings for your friends and family!
Thanksgiving table decoration ideas that are easy to create are my favorites. I had a chance to set our Thanksgiving table for the first time this past year as my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. In the past, Thanksgiving lunch has been at my parents’ house or my aunt and uncle’s house. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we would celebrate with my mom-in-law at her house. This time, we invited everyone to our house for a big ole’ feast. All of the moms in our families are great cooks, and so they offered to bring their favorite Thanksgiving side dishes so that all of the family and the family-favorites would be together under one roof! We were in charge of cooking the turkey and a few sides- which left plenty of time for me to set the tables and get the house ready.
When our family arrived, we had light appetizers to enjoy while everyone trickled in- and I prepared a punch bowl with a Thanksgiving cocktail…
For the cranberry cocktail, I served it in a brass punch bowl so that everyone could serve themselves. I had the bar cart ready to serve when they arrived and added the ice ring to the bowl last so that it looked its best.
I wanted to add foliage or flowers around the house, and so I put cabbage in my Majolica pots and set them out. This was such an easy way to add greenery – and I could plant the cabbage later. 🙂 . I like to decorate with food items for Thanksgiving to go along with the idea of a bounty of a harvest.
For that same reason, I chose pepper plants to use as the centerpiece for the dining table. I put them in my dough bowl and added pumpkins and ornamental corn. I loved the flowing, nonchalant grouping of the pepper plants and pumpkins paired with the more formal look of the roses and hydrangeas.
I have never been a big fan of orange roses until recently. My friend, Lance (who is so talented with flower arranging), won me over with his beautiful use of them. After seeing how pretty they look arranged, I decided to try them to add in the traditional orange for Thanksgiving. I paired them with lime green hydrangeas, and I loved how they turned out…
I have always enjoyed the history of why we celebrate Thanksgiving- the positive sides of the celebration…surviving the harsh conditions, growing and thriving in spite of all of the setbacks, coming together in unity and friendship, the teaching and learning that was an integral part of the journey. For this table, I wanted to have small touches of history and harvest and that is how the idea of the antique dough bowl with plants, corn, and pumpkins came to be. A little bit of a rustic look coupled with more formal touches represented the history and the present day. I went with the same idea for the dishes- using antique plates (made in England) paired with present-day white plates (designed in New England).
Name cards are also a nice touch to add to a table so that everyone knows which place is just for them. It eliminates the sometimes awkward moments of trying to seat everyone at the same time- it takes the guess work out of “where should I sit” for your guests and makes the table feel a little more special. I also like to add more than one set of salt and pepper shakers to the table for convenience for guests. Below you can see the two small turkeys…they are perfect for adding a whimsical touch that also makes the table feel warm and welcoming rather than formal and stuffy. You can also see that I tied a plaid, silk ribbon around each napkin to add the colors that I wanted to add. This is always a pretty and simple way to tie in the colors of any table setting or party.
Here are my y suggestions for creating a look you love for your own Thanksgiving table…
Start with a tablecloth and build from there. I knew I wanted a tablecloth with a white background with green because I wanted the overall look to be light and colorful. Decide if you want light and bright or darker and moody.
Choose a charger that coordinates and gives you a different texture or color. I chose brown rattan because I like how they grounded the table and kept it from feeling overly formal. The brown also coordinated well with the dough bowl in the center of the table and the chairs all around the table.
Choose the plates that you want to use and layer them to add interest to the table. I decided to only go with a salad and dinner plate because I liked the design of the green plate and wanted it to be what we noticed first in the place settings.
Coordinate the napkins. Again, I liked the lighter shade of brown for the napkins and I really loved the green border. I wanted to have the napkins monogrammed, but opted for tying a ribbon around them instead. The ribbon added color and interest.
Decide on the centerpieces and be creative when choosing plants or blooms. Remember to add fruits, veggies, herbs for different colors and textures. Or, if you are doing a more formal centerpiece, add something such as berries or small branches in seasonal colors to counterbalance the formality.
Choose glasses that coordinate or blend well. Stemmed glasses often look the prettiest.
Add silverware/utensils- if you have different types, choose the best color or material that suits your table. Some of the types that look great on a table are silver, gold, bamboo, Mother of Pearl.
Make place cards or be creative with name cards. You can put them in fruit with a skewer or add them to a napkin ring. Simple or a little extra- either way shows your thoughtfulness.
Add personality to the table with mismatched or miniature salt and pepper shakers. Or, add an interesting salt bowl or butter dish. It is okay, and often more fun, to have a few conversation starters at the Thanksgiving table.
Make sure everyone has enough space at their place setting and can sit and chat comfortably.
Now that you have the adult table set, remember to make a special table for the kids, too! All of the “kids” at the kids’ table at our house ranged in age from 13-25 and so I set more of a “young adult table”. I wanted it to be casual, comfortable, and pretty. I also thought a more minimal approach would be a good idea. 🙂
I kept the centerpiece simply with a pretty orchid and bowls of acorns. The tabletop is mirrored and I added a gold confetti charger and then the white plates with green cabbage leaf plates. I topped the plates with pumpkin mugs or pumpkin bowls to use with the seafood soup we served.
I hope you have found inspiration in some of these ideas! I enjoy mixing and matching and finding a pretty balance in all of the choices. Most importantly, I love how Thanksgiving brings us together to catch up, reminisce, enjoy a meal, and celebrate togetherness. It is one of my favorite holidays! Happy Thanksgiving!
As you get ready for holiday feasts and fancy dinners, use this easy guide from Adirondack Authority to help you set your table just right! It is great for teaching the kids AND there is a step-by-step tutorial for folding a TURKEY NAPKIN! Formal or fun- enjoy the festivities around your table!
A beautiful Easter party can be easy to pull together! This table was styled to be sweet and whimsical- literally! The bunnies on the stick are inspired by Bakerella and made easier by Dunkin Donuts! Instead of cakepops, donut holes were used.
I love the polka dots on the carrot cookies and the toppers on the baby cakes.
The toppers can be used in many ways, but I loved the look of them front and center on the table. Just add lollipop sticks and ribbon and they are dressed for the party!
Add more cookies (I told you it was sweet!)…
The Easter egg hunt is always the highlight of the party, but the bunnies and ducks bring a lot of smiles too!
Baby Cakes and Cookies are from BABY CAKES BAKERY in Porterdale, GA