There’s nothing better than sharing food you love with people you love in a place you love: your home. That’s why one of my favorite social events to host is the dinner party. Well, that is until about three hours before everyone is due to arrive, when I try to cram in a day’s work. Sticking with the positive, I’d say the thing I love the best is setting the table. I can’t always control when the crock pot creation doesn’t resemble the cookbook pictures or when the weather forces the BBQ indoors, but I can reclaim my serenity as I lay out my serving dishes and decorative table pieces. From special sangria pitchers and pretty bread baskets to seasonal serving platters and funny cocktail napkins, I love laying out the table, be the occasion casual or formal. It’s the food form of the welcome mat!
While I am always merely happy that anyone is cooking for me, I have to confess I get a special thrill when I arrive at a friend’s house and see a beautifully laid table, set with love and care. As a child, I usually grumbled when sent to haul the card tables from the garage, but once my mama had transformed them with table cloths, runners, placemats, napkins, and seasonal cercis, I was inevitably energized and excited for the meal and celebration to come. There is just something fun about breaking away from the typical dining routine and bringing out festive colors and taking down the fancy china from the top of the hutch.
I’m not talking only about formal table settings using real, freshly polished silver and multiple salad forks. Imagination goes much further than expense, in my experience. Creative place cards or handcrafted table décor made by the resident 4 year old (or 40 year old), droll napkin holders or a few tapered candles, and unique baskets or pottery thrown by someone you know are conversation starters– they add a splash of the extraordinary to the table. Sometimes with what my crockpot yields I have to splash twice (when all else fails, add some appetizers, pour the wine with a heavy hand, and distract-distract-distract with crazy coworker stories– unless, of course, your guests are your crazy coworkers in which case the dinner was probably doomed from the start)!
What about you, my feathered friends? What are some of your favorite table toppers?
Perhaps you have some setiquette words of wisdom for someone hosting their first dinner or other festive occasion. Or maybe you have a memory of a favorite table you’ve set (or sat at) that you’d like to share.
Send us a picture if you have one!
p.s. If you looking for something special to add to your table, here are a few of my favorites from our shop:
- These oval trays with chalkboard finish, perfect for personalizing your party buffet
- Also these simple but pretty baskets accented with birds and owls, are just right for fruit, or add a cloth napkin to serve rolls, chips, and other tasty treats
- If you’re looking for simplicity, these classic rattan baskets make for great décor or great table toppers
- Check out this versatile two-tier stand: by day it can show off your produce (so you don’t forget about it) and by evening, it adds some elegance to your next book club meeting as a lovely way to serve hors d’oeuvres or sweets
- I love items like these boxes for holding condiments or silverware, or these stylish mesh baskets
- Multipurpose items are the best– for example, you can use this piece for a floral arrangement or to hold breadsticks or a bottle of wine
- No matter the season, candles are always a winner, as are lanterns