Would you love to know how to decorate your table for dinner with friends? Well, in this article we’ll look at the art of ‘tablescaping’, step by step. Setting a beautiful table is the perfect way to create a sense of occasion and show your guests how special they are to you.
Firstly though, what exactly do we mean by tablescaping?
What is tablescaping?
Tablescaping has become a huge trend over the last couple of years. Instagram and Pinterest have countless examples of stunning, often themed, tablescapes. In reality however, tablescaping is nothing new. It simply means setting a table for guests in a thoughtful and decorative way. Tablescaping is the art of creating an aesthetically pleasing and visually interesting table for diners, considering texture, shape and colour.
How to beautifully decorate your table for dinner
Setting a table is an exciting and creative activity, so don’t stress about it. There are no rules! However, we have included lots of ideas, suggestions and inspiration here to get you started. Your tablescape should reflect your event and you as a host, so have fun with it.
1. Where will you be hosting?
An important consideration is where your event will take place. For example, an al-fresco picnic in the park will be quite different to a cosy afternoon tea at home in the lounge, or an elegant graduation celebration dinner in a formal dining room. The setting may limit your options. For example, you’re unlikely to take a grand candelabra, table and chairs to the park (unless you a have a lot of help)! Yet it can also spark creativity. You might decide to repurpose the picnic basket as a centrepiece, filled with wildflowers, or serve lemonade straight from the bottles with colourful paper straws.
2. What is the occasion?
Whether you’re throwing a Great Gatsby style dinner party for a friend’s birthday, gathering family for Easter lunch, or celebrating world gin day, the reason for hosting can provide inspiration for your table’s theme. Visualise your table. Consider colour (stick to two or 3 for simplicity). You might want the colours to reflect the theme (metallics or white for Christmas, pastels for Easter, red or pink for Valentine’s day), but don’t feel that you have to.
3. What will you need?
Plan your table setting in advance. This will help you to feel more confident and avoid stress. Gather everything that you will need before you start to decorate your table. You don’t need to spend lots of money on new items. See what you can borrow from different rooms in your home, trawl charity shops for pretty tablecloths and candlesticks, borrow serving bowls from friends. Can you recycle jam jars for vases or candle holders? Or make place cards yourself?
Think creatively. For example, you might serve cocktails from a teapot, like in prohibition!
Items you might need to source:
- tablecloth and runners
- napkins and napkin rings
- placemats, plates and chargers
- glasses and pitchers
- a centrepiece (think flowers, plants, candles and candlesticks, or something themed, but less conventional, e.g. a skull for Halloween)
- smaller decorative items (posy vases, individual flowers, tea-lights)
- serving pieces
- place cards
- something to surprise and delight your guests (this could simply be a creative way of folding the napkins, a small gift, or a surprising fact about the person sitting opposite you in order to get conversation flowing).
4. How to put it all together?
- Clear your space. Start with a blank canvas. take everything off the table you’re planning to use and give it a clean.
- Place your tablecloth (iron if needed). This is the foundation of your table setting. Choose whether to have this aligned with the table, or slightly angled.
Add your runner, placemats or chargers if wanted.
- Add elements of texture, colour and depth. Include some contrast in your table setting. Consider using metallic, smooth, natural, matt, hard or soft items. Layer items such as tablecloths and runners, small and large plates, platters, trays and foliage.
- Style your centrepiece. This is the focal point of your tablescape. You’ve already decided what to use, so this part should be simple. Once in place, decide if it’s enough. Do you need more candles, or a taller vase? Perhaps the plant you chose doesn’t make enough of a statement? Make additions, edits or amendments as necessary. Think practically, as well as creatively. Can your guests see each other over the centrepiece?
- Add your place settings (plates, dishes, silverware, glassware, napkins, napkin rings and place cards). These should reflect the nature of the occasion. For example, a formal dinner would follow the traditional rules of cutlery placement, but a casual lunch might mean that you set all the cutlery together with the napkin either on the plate, or beside it (see image below).
- Embellish your table. Add decorative, yet practical items such as serving pieces, a wine cooler, pitchers of drinks, additional candles, knife rests, perfectly folded napkins, or even a menu.
- Make it fun! Consider adding interactive elements to get your party started. Depending on the occasion and your theme, you might include bottles of bubble mixture (for seriously pretty photos), masquerade masks or even mini sparklers.
Decorating your table inspiration
Hopefully this article has given you plenty of ideas and inspiration for how to decorate your table for any occasion, but if you need more, why not check out some of our favourite Instagrammers (links and images below)?
Finally, you can find lots more tips, trends and inspiration for interiors here.