It's rare that we actually set our table for dinner. We are a buffet style kind of family - grabbing your plate and serving up the food from the stove. But there is something special about a table ready for hosting.
The thing is, I generally avoid it - maybe its just because I don't want to go to the trouble or I'm concerned that I don't have all the right things... but it really takes minimal effort and can set the tone for an intimate, special gathering (especially over the holidays).
Tip 1: Pull out your china (if you have it)
For this particular occasion, I did get out our china. A Wedgewood pattern my husband actually picked out over twenty years ago. If you have some nice stuff, get it out and use it. It will mean something in that moment. If you don't, use what you have. A basic white plate will do the trick and if you have a salad/app plate that coordinates, then layer them up. Just that one little detail makes the table feel more special.
Tip 2. Set out all the glassware
I chose to get all the the pieces out - including my tea cups and saucers. If you don't have them, no worries, just set out a water and wine glass. It will still feel fun.
Tip 3. Forage your centerpiece from the yard
Your centerpiece doesn't have to be complicated - these are literally a few clippings from a tree in my yard laid very loosely in a square vase. A few ideas you could possibly forage:
- bare branches (look for ones with a bit of curve or whimsy) placed in a similar way in a vase you have on hand
- A large clear container filled with pine cones
- a few clippings from a Christmas tree and layer with other green branches from outside
- one of my all time favorites is magnolia branches (if you or a neighbor has one) clip a few and you can literally layer them on the table.
- or pick up a poinsettia or amaryllis at the store
(just don't over complicate it)
Tip 4. Mix and Match nice and normal
You will see a variety of things here - but it's important to remember you are trying to create an overall feel. Too many times we get caught up in what we don't have instead of what we do. My table is the perfect example.
- fine Wedgewood China plates and cups/saucers
- wine glasses from West Elm
- basic silverware I've had since we were married
- a nicer paper napkin set at each place (folded with the outside of the fold facing out).
- water glasses from Ikea
- glass vase for centerpiece is one I inherited from an arrangement and kept
- and a wood table that looks worn and needs refinishing
There is nothing perfect about this table - it's simple and festive - and when all was said and done, served one meaningful objective - it created an atmosphere and feeling that everyone enjoyed!