A Feast For The Eyes

I used to always stress out when I hosted a family or friend dinner.  And while the menu and cooking was relatively easy—it was the table setting that got me flustered every time! The reason was that I never thought out the presentation of the table. I just started to set the table on the day of the event, and then I scrambled to make it look pretty.

 So take it from me….The tablescape is just as important as the food you are cooking, and it deserves planning too! Did I just totally stress you out? You might be thinking… “what do I do? I don’t know the first thing about decorating a table…”- Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. From great ideas, to some DIY touches, and even the links for what you might need, it’s all right here. After reading this, you will be all set to table-set!



Start with a tablecloth. I typically like a solid color without any pattern. That way the décor on top gets highlighted even more. My favorite approach is to use a white tablecloth.  You can’t go wrong with its simplicity and elegance. And then, if there are some red wine spills you can use some bleach to spot treat.


Next, pick a table runner for a nice accent that also helps to cluster the centerpieces for a more cohesive tablescape. Some people adhere firmly to the use that the runner needs to go the full length and even hang off the edge. I don’t stick to that as a firm fast rule. Especially since for holidays sometimes we extend the table for more guests, so the runners may not be long enough. If you do want to extend the runner with it, I suggest getting two of the same runner and overlapping them in the middle. That’s an easy trick.


Then, I like to come up with a centerpiece idea that is dramatic, has an array of heights to it, and incorporates something that will shine like crystals, candles, tea lights, twinkly lights. Those type of accents always look spectacular and create an intimate setting. Since we tend to dine with dimmed lighting, eating by candlelight is especially striking.


When designing a centerpiece, I suggest that you be somewhat loose with it. Don’t get stuck on making it symmetrical our too staged. You absolutely do not need to go out and buy a huge floral centerpiece. Besides, utilizing your creativity is what makes the table setting even better.


I typically start with raised piece (piece of wood, small tray, a long silver dish.  Don’t be too worried that it be perfect, because you can always layer some greenery on top to cover some of it. You can use garland, leaves, etc. Then I add in some varying types of candles—tall and chunky ones, slender dining candles, water-filled votives with floating candles, and tea lights. I also absolutely love to use little twinkle lights that are attached to a thin wire (ie. Copper) and are battery operated with an on/off switch. These are perfect for the holidays to create that winter-like ambience that sparkles.


The key is to vary heights and layer the elements. Scattering some crystals, or glass pebbles adds a nice touch too. Try to keep your color palette to just a few colors so that it feels cohesive.


And then my next favorite element is the napkin ring. You can go sleek, mid-century modern (and I have links for my favorites in my blog) or you can get crafty and make something DIY. For example, I love the idea of using twine to wrap around the napkin and then adding a spruce twig for a beautiful accent. It definitely brings nature in.


Whatever direction you go with your tablescape design, be sure to plan ahead, try it ahead of time to see if you need to add a touch, and inject your individual flair. Sharing a meal is so much more than just the food—it is an experience to be shared.

Here are some seasonal and timeless decor for table setting on my Must Have Products page. Happy shopping and decorating!


Karen Otis