My holiday table is inspired by the hydrangea in my backyard. I was able to cut the hydrangea before it matured and turned brown.
The hydrangea in the tablescape came from a white hydrangea bush. It dried this beautiful shade of green that blends well with my dining room wall color and the tabletop tree and so the hydrangea became my theme for the tablescape.
How to Get the Custom Curated Look
The key to achieving a custom-designed tablescape is to strategically plan the look and make it cohesive. This can be done by first choosing a theme and color scheme for the table. I find, once I have selected a theme, it keeps me focused in the tablescape creation.
In this tablesetting, I have chosen a somewhat casual, relaxed theme that focuses on elements from my garden. Because, the hydrangea has turned a pretty shade of green, I have chosen the neutral green as my main color supported by gold, ivory, and white accents.
Before I buy anything for a tablesetting, and to achieve a tablescape that looks curated and custom made, I start by looking around the house to see what I already own or have available in the garden or backyard that can be incorporated into the tablescape. Nothing new was purchased for this tablesetting. I have had the gold trees and baubles for years and re-purpose them to wherever I need them each Christmas. Integrating items you already own creates a curated look, makes the setting more personal and, of course, it’s more economical.
Create the Tablescape Before Arranging Placesettings
When constructing a tablescape, piece by piece, directly on the table, I recommend starting with an unset table. You don’t want to be touching glassware with your arm and potentially knocking glasses over, causing breakage, as you try to reach into the center of the table to place items in the tablescape. Also, if there are pine or fir needles (fresh or faux), glitter, etc., involved, those will inevitably find their way on to plates and napkins and into glasses and, well, that’s just not the kind of garnish guests want to see in or on their food and drink! It’s just awkward to try and create a tablescape amidst placesettings. If you need to have parameters set for the spacing of the tablescape itself, I suggest setting the charger plates at each placesetting as markers. These can then be cleaned before the actual plates to be used for food are added.
Sometimes, I leave the table bare and other times I use a tablecloth such as the vintage Irish linen white tablecloth I have used in this setting. I find the white makes a great canvas for the elements of the tablescape to stand out.
One of the most important factors to consider when constructing a tablescape is its height. For the comfort of guests, and to enable them to communicate across the table during the meal, keep the height of the tablescape below the eyeline of seated guests.
For this tablescape, I started with a couple of good quality large faux greenery piks placed end-to-end in the center of the table. This provided the anchor base and shape, added depth and fullness, and also dictated the general size and expanse of the tablescape.
Next, I used an odd number of the focal point items – in this case, the three gold trees – and positioned them into place.
From there, I took the hydrangea and placed it in, around, and throughout the tablescape. There is no need to be overly fussy about keeping the hydrangea placement perfectly symmetrical. Instead, work on the flow, movement, and keeping the look natural.
Any place where I noticed gaps, I filled in with some greenery. Either fresh or faux greenery can be used. I chose freshly cut boxwood and holly from the bushes along my walkway. I opted to use just branches of holly that had no berries as there was no red connection to the tablescape and the leaves of the holly tree have such a lovely shape. Every time I step out my front door, I marvel at the stunning beauty of the holly bushes, particularly after a fresh snowfall.
I find, when creating a tablescape consisting primarily of flowers or foliage, it is best to limit the number of different kinds used. A general rule of thumb is to choose one signature flower (in this case, the hydrangea) and use a significant amount of it. This allows it to make a statement without competing with a number of other varieties of flowers. Using the boxwood and holly leaves, which are darker shades than the hydrangea, gives depth to the tablescape and also contributes to the seasonal look.
Some Christmas balls/baubles in light colors were added to inject some brightness into the tablescape and the metallics, of course, add texture, shape, and interest.
I added some ribbon here and there to connect the tablescape to the ribbon on the tabletop tree in the dining room, thus keeping the look cohesive and coordinated.
Because the hydrangea is tinder dry, I don’t want any open flame from candles on the table so have opted for battery lit gold glittery votives to give a warm glow and sparkle. A string of battery-operated twinkle lights with fine gold wire is strung throughout the arrangement to give a magical ambience to the table, particularly for evening dining.
Some brightly wrapped parcels in gold and white were placed, kitty-corner, on opposite ends of the table, adding a festive and glitzy look.
This neutral, nature-inspired tablescape is versatile enough that it will coordinate well with a number of different dinnerware choices. Here, I have set the table with plain white dinnerware (my all-time favorite!) but the tablescape will go equally well with my formal china that has enough green and gold in it to match. It will also work with my red and green plaid casual dinnerware and it would also complement my green and white vintage dishes. It’s always great when this can happen as it extends the use of the tablescape over the holiday period and the table’s look can be changed by simply switching out the dinnerware, napkins, and glassware.
I am a big fan of charger plates not only because I think they dress up a table and frame each placesetting but also because they serve the practical purpose of protecting the table linen from stains should any food find its way off a plate (it happens). The basic white dinnerware atop simple gold chargers is always elegant and sophisticated, goes with anything, and food colors pop against a white plate.
I have chosen to use white napkins with a glittery gold snowflake motif. Apart from contributing a soft textile texture to the table, the napkins connect to the gold in the tablescape and to the charger plates, again maintaining a cohesive and sophisticated look. In order to best show the motif, I have purposely used a simple flat napkin fold.
The placesettings reflect the order in which the meal will be served. In this case, the two plates and cutlery placement indicate there is a salad course followed by the main entrée. Stacking the plates gives a layered look that adds visual depth and fullness to placesettings. I have chosen glassware with lots of cut glass so that it will reflect the light and add dazzle to the table.
Setting a well-styled holiday table need not cost a lot of money. In this case, the use of free foraged natural products collected from my garden and yard provides a connection to nature and creates a neutral, yet festive tablescape.
To view other Christmas-themed tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:
This elegant autumn-themed tablesetting all started with …… ………. a rustic box of faux greenery and small white pumpkins.
Sometimes, inspiration can from from seemingly simple sources as is the case with this tablesetting. I have had the rustic box arrangement for awhile. It usually spends the autumn on the island in my kitchen. But, this year, it became the inspiration for my Thanksgiving tablesetting and so has been elevated to the dining room. Other than the tiny pumpkins scattered throughout the tablescape, I bought nothing special for this tablesetting. You’ll be amazed what you can find when you shop around your own home!
In fall tablesettings, I typically choose the warm autumnal colors of yellows, reds, rusts, and golds but, this year, I’ve opted to go with muted earthy tones – greens, whites, and browns, principally. One thing I recommend in tablesettings is to keep the number of colors introduced to no more than three. Any more and the table can start to appear chaotic.
I have intentionally left the table bare with no tablecloth in order to allow the maple wood of my dining room table to form the canvas for the tablesetting. Letting the wood of the table be part of the tablesetting is in keeping with the earthy look. To frame the centerpiece, I have opted to use a short white runner. It gives a base, is unobtrusive, and it defines and contains the size of the tablescape.
While the box of greenery and pumpkins is an autumn arrangement in itself, had it been the sole item in the center of the table, it would have looked isolated and that it had just landed there with no supporting or grounding items.
To take a pre-made arrangement and give it a custom look, it needs some supporting actors that will draw the eye down the length of the table’s center. These connectors include small white pumpkins, pinecones, green leaves, and white votives. No need to be fussy or overly precise about the placement of these items. As the tablescape builds, places needing a “filler” will reveal themselves. Care, however, needs to be taken to ensure the table is not overloaded.
I am a fan of layers of lighting. In this case, two layers are used – tall, neutral-colored, tapers flanking the core centerpiece and then lower lights, in the form of votives for soft glow, interspersed here and there throughout the tablescape. Adding layers of light ensures a glow from all angles of the tablescape and candles always contribute to the ambiance.
Adding a place card to each placesetting adds a touch of sophistication and personality to a table. Additionally, it allows the host/hostess to identify where they want guests to be seated and there can be several reasons why the strategic placement of dinner guests could be important at a dining event, even a casual or informal one.
Formal placecards are not always necessary, especially for more informal occasions. Here, the place card is a simple leaf upon which the guest’s name is printed. The addition of a small cone provides a stand for the leaf and, along with a sprig of greenery, maintains the tablesetting color scheme and earthy theme.
Silver charger plates frame each placesetting. Silver is on the cool spectrum so is in keeping with the overall cool-toned tablescape. Charger plates, of course, ground and define a placesetting as well as lend an air of sophistication and style to the table.
White dinnerware is most often my “go-to” for tablesettings because it matches everything and food looks great on white.
The miniature soup tureens are a favorite and they add height, interest, and style to each placesetting. They also double as a holder for the napkin, folded into the Bird of Paradise fold.
Using glassware that has lots of cuts in it is a great way to add sparkle to the table whether the light that causes the sparkle comes from natural sunlight or, in the evening, through the glow of candlelight.
This tablescape makes use of typical seasonal foliage and pumpkins but in more toned-down hues. No matter what is on the menu, this table has all the ingredients for a festive autumnal meal.
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My dining room table is set with a beautiful Victorian teatime tablesetting with a teaset from Moritz Zdekauer. It bears the mark “MZ Austria” with the eagle symbol. I am unsure of the name of the pattern. It bears resemblance to the Bridal Wreath pattern, also produced by MZ Austria, but this set does not have the floral swags consistent with photos I have seen of the Bridal Wreath pattern. If anyone can conclusively identify the pattern, please do let me know.
In the meantime, this is a lovely delicate and romantic teaset from which to enjoy an afternoon tea or a light supper. I have used this set in the past for afternoon teas including this Valentine Tea.
There are no dinner plates in the set. Rather, the smaller plates which we know as “supper plates” or “tea plates” or, more commonly today, salad or dessert plates, are the largest plates in the set. These would be used for scones or small sandwiches or, in the case of supper, perhaps some cold cuts, biscuits, and condiments.
The plates are scallop edged with gold filigree trim on the edges. A border of tiny pink flowers amidst pale green leaves adorns each plate that also has a small rose spray in the plate center.
The small fruit nappies would typically be used for serving fresh seasonal berries with cream, a fruit compote, or, perhaps, preserves or canned fruit such as pears, peaches, or plums.
The set has a large serving bowl which seems almost disproportionately large to the other pieces in the set. It could be used for a salad, such as potato salad, or it could be used for a fruit compote.
Two serving plates accompany the set. One would most likely have been used for serving sandwiches for an afternoon tea and the other for teatime squares, cake, and/or cookies. Alternatively, the plates could have been used for serving cold meats for a supper.
The cream and sugar set is also quite large and is in keeping with the Victorian style.
The set has a lot of detailing and design elements and a significant amount of delicate gold trim.
The set also includes a salt and pepper duo and, because this is an antique set, some of the gold trim on the shaker tops has worn off.
This set has no matching teapot so I have opted to use a Sadler teapot with pink roses.
The teacup shape is very plain and simple. The short, stout, shape of the footed cup resembles Royal Albert’s Hampton shaped cups.
Each cup has an intricate floral pattern of tiny soft pink roses and green leaves around the cup and each has a tiny pink rose motif on the rear interior. The cups have ornate gilt filigree banding around the exterior rim and the simple loop handles on the cups also bear gold gilt trim that is carried to the saucer edges.
I have chosen to pair my Victorian style glasswear with this set. Again, larger pieces in keeping with the period of the teaset.
The table linen I have chosen is a white antique Irish linen cloth. White keeps the overall look simplistic and soft and really makes the tiny pink roses on the dishes pop.
The napkin fold is a simplistic triangular fold and is placed between the supper plate and fruit nappy. This is an easy fold to do and is ideal when the napkin has a motif or monogram to be featured. Placing the napkin between the two plates is also beneficial if the table is either quite small or crowded with placesettings and serving pieces as the napkin is one less thing to find a space for on the table.
I have chosen a low profile floral centerpiece for the tea table in colors complementary to the dishes. The soft, subdued colors do not detract from, or compete with, the teaset. Keeping the centerpiece low makes it easy for guests to see and converse with each other.
Now, what would you serve on these dishes and what tea would you pair with the meal?
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When you live on an Island and are never far from water and fine beaches, it’s not hard to find tablesetting inspiration. Red and white is the color scheme for this Lighthouse Watch al fresco tablesetting which features lobster rolls and potato salad on the menu. Continue reading Lighthouse Watch Summer Al fresco Tablesetting→
Christmas is, in my opinion, a time of the year when a tablesetting can be well glitzed and glammed up. If you want to add opulence and glamour to a holiday tablesetting, go with gold. It shines, it sparkles, it shimmers and glows in all kinds of light, and it has such warm tones. This is my Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting.
The Christmas color theme in my dining room is gold. It appears on my tabletop tree and in my mantle design. Therefore, for continuity, my table carries the same singular color theme.
Basic white is most often the blank canvas I start with when constructing my tablesettings. It’s neutral and, in the case of this gold-plated tablesetting, it provides a wonderful plain backdrop to let the metallics form the focal point of the table. Had I left my maple table bare, the gold-colored centerpiece would not have stood out as dramatically as it does against the white backdrop. Conversely, had I used a patterned tablecloth, it would have been very busy and cluttery looking and the effect of the centerpiece would have been completely lost.
Nothing was bought new specifically for this centerpiece. I have had all the Christmas balls, baubles, twigs, feathers, and berries for years and they have been used for many different purposes at previous holidays. So, I simply went shopping in my own storehouse!
When constructing the centerpiece, piece by piece, on the table, make sure it is completed before setting the individual place settings. Otherwise, you would be reaching over high glassware, potentially knocking them over and it would just be plain awkward. And, of course, if there is glitter involved or greenery needles, those would find their way on to the plates and into the glasses where food and drink will be served. So, the individual placesettings would be the last aspect of the tablesetting to be completed.
For this setting, I have chosen one large gold ball and then added three or four other different sized balls of a scale that will fit the size of my dining table. This type of centerpiece is scalable meaning it can be made somewhat larger to suit a longer table. It is important to keep the elements in the centerpiece to scale both to the other components of the centerpiece as well as to the size of table itself.
I have used balls/baubles with different textures with some having designs and others perfectly plain. So, in the centerpiece, I have included balls that are plain satin-finished, glittery, pearlized, and matte finish. The balls are in various shades and hues of gold. This adds wonderful texture and interest to the centerpiece plus their finishes play well off each other and they all react to light differently.
I had some gold twigs that I used to create a base for the balls. To achieve the luxe look, I did not want to introduce any greenery or other color into the centerpiece, save for a bit of ivory in the berries and on ribbon.
The twigs serve the purpose of providing a nest for the balls so they do not roll out of place. I then started with placement of the large ball, followed by the next sized balls, and so on until I achieved the aesthetic look I was going for, filling in any gaps with smaller balls. Some gold-colored feathers and ivory berries were added for interest. Finally, I strategically placed some pretty ribbon bows of ivory and glittery gold in various places throughout the centerpiece arrangement. By doing this, I addressed any remaining gaps and made the centerpiece look full and luxurious.
The ribbon corresponds with that on my dining room tabletop tree. Tabletop trees are so adorable and I find they are particularly suitable for dining rooms.
As those of you who are regular visitors to my website will know, I am not a huge fan of taper candles. I find they are a bit precarious for my liking for use on dining tables. For that reason, I typically use the more stable pillar candles in tablesettings. However, in this case, the table has a very elegant and glamorous theme so the tall, slender tapers do work better than the larger pillar candles. The tapers give height and elegance to the table and, because they are slender, they do not obstruct diners’ view of each other. And, of course, tapers burn down faster than pillars so they become even lower as the meal progresses.
I have a collection of glass candlesticks in various shapes and sizes and many are cut glass with prisms that really do play well to light. This makes them really sparkle on a table, further adding glitz to the tablescape. It is not necessary to have the candlesticks all matching and I do recommend using ones that vary in height as that contributes to layers of lighting when the candles are lit. Using clear glass candlesticks keeps the focus on the gold in the centerpiece and gives it an airy look. In other words, the candlesticks accent, and do not compete with, the gold centerpiece.
I have used two types of gold tapers in this centerpiece. Some candles have a glittery finish while others have a polished, satin finish. This adds interest to the centerpiece and does not make it look so matchy-matchy or that it all came out of a box, pre-assembled in a factory. These are the types of details that give a centerpiece a custom-designed look.
Varying the height of the tapers as well as the candlesticks, also adds light from different levels of the centerpiece. If I can, I try to add about three layers of light to a centerpiece like this – high, medium, and low – so that the centerpiece is really glowing from all angles. Of course, using an odd number of candles makes the centerpiece more pleasing to the eye.
Smaller gold-colored votives are nestled in around the edges of the centerpiece. To keep the votives clean and free from wax build-up inside, I have used small tealights that are already encased in little tin holders. They still add lots of light from the lowest level of the centerpiece. In the photo later on in this post that shows the dinnerware up close, the tea light in a votive can be seen.
I do not recommend using scented candles in a tablesetting as they can be quite overpowering and interfere with the enjoyment of the scent of a good meal. Also, anyone with scent allergies can find scented candles distressing. It’s important to always consider the comfort of dinner guests.
My fall-back for table linen is often a vintage Irish linen tablecloth which is what I have used in this setting. I am not a fan of busy tablecloth designs or seasonally-themed ones. Tablecloths with Christmas designs, for example, may be pretty but they typically require plain dinnerware so they are not too busy for the eye. Additionally, they can really only be used at Christmas and must be stored for the rest of the year.
My preference is to go with non-seasonal neutral tablecloths. If I want to have a seasonal design in table textile, I will usually opt for seasonally-themed napkins, like the cotton napkins with the gold snowflake motif shown in the photo below. Because the thread in the motif pattern is glittery, the napkins blend well with this tablesetting.
I find the best way to fold napkins that have motifs is to use a simple flat fold. Trying to fold this style of napkin into an intricate or fancy fold would result in the motif and its effect being lost.
For that reason, I simply laid the flat-folded napkin over the salad plate so it becomes the focal point of each individual placesetting. Simple yet elegant.
Dinnerware and Flatware
Plain gold charger plates frame each placesetting. The gold color connects the placesettings to the centerpiece. Chargers are an easy and simple way to glam up a tablesetting plus they serve a useful purpose in keeping the tablecloth clean should any food escape the dinnerware. We all know it happens from time to time!
I have chosen dinnerware with a significant amount of gold metallic color for this setting as it ties in with the gold theme and does not introduce another color. The contemporary metallic gold polka dot porcelain dinner plates add some pizzazz to each placesetting. The gold-edged salad plates are in a coordinating design. It is not always necessary (and sometimes it is too much) to have completely matching dinnerware. Mixing dinnerware designs is another great way to create a customized tablesetting look.
So long as the color scheme remains the same and the patterns do not clash, coordinating plates can contribute to a glamorous tablesetting. When mixing dinnerware patterns, it’s a good idea to have one plate with a fairly large design (like the polka dot dinnerplate) and the second plate to have a much smaller design (like the salad plate).
Because there is so much gold color on the table, I did not want to introduce silverware. I have, therefore, opted to use a very simple design of gold-colored stainless steel flatware. I think it is more pleasing to the eye as it holds and carries the gold theme. It is elegant in its simplicity of design.
The super tall gold and rhinestone decorated champagne flutes add grand glitter and glam to this tablesetting giving it a totally festive look and feel. When you see glasses like this, you just know it’s party time!
Because the flutes are very tall, I used my tallest wine glasses for proportion. They are about 9″ tall and are perfectly plain tulip-shaped stemware. Using tall stemware in this type of setting balances out the height of the tapers.
Consider How the Table Looks in Different Lighting Situations
When constructing a tablesetting, it is important to consider how it looks in different lighting situations in which it will be used. For example, if the dining event is in the evening, you want the table to sparkle in the candlelight. Notice how the tablesetting takes on a different hue and ambience with just the Christmas tree lights and the lit candles on the table.
The tablesetting becomes much more dramatic when lit for evening dining. Layers of candlelight bathe the table in soft glowing light and the tea lights in the votives provide great highlights to the setting. It is best to avoid harsh overhead lighting of tablescapes that have bright gold or silver as it can be quite hard on the eye and distracting.
This tablesetting will easily carry me through the entire holiday period up to and including New Year’s. There are no flowers to water or wilt and I can easily exchange my plain white dishes for the patterned dinnerware and use other glassware to change up the look without having to touch the centerpiece (unless, of course, it is to replace the candles that have melted their way down in the candlesticks).
A beautifully set table sets the tone for a wonderful meal. Using a single color palette that looks polished and sophisticated helps to create an elegant and glamorous tablesetting.
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my custom-designed holiday tablesetting.
To view other Christmas-themed tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:
A number of years ago, I made these snowmen and, this year, thought they should be part of a casual holiday tablesetting that is aptly named “Snowmen and Snowballs“. So, here they are, all dressed in their finery to preside over the dinner table!
These two snowmen are positioned at opposite ends of the table because they can’t be trusted not to engage in a snowball fight! As you can see, they’ve already been busy with all those snowballs you see on the table!
I am a big fan of using what I already have as opposed to buying new items for tablesettings. In fact, I will often re-purpose decorations and ornaments (especially ones I can’t otherwise find a place for!) by using them in my tablesettings. And, this is exactly what I have done with this tablesetting.
How adorable are these little snowmen votives that adorn each placesetting!
The napkins are a rosy-pink-red pinstripe on fabric that has a homespun texture. They are very suitable for this casual tablesetting. The napkins don’t shout Christmas but are quite suitable for the season. They are also napkins I use other times of the year.
I am using my standard white dinnerware and have framed it with a red plaid charger plate on top of a round green placemat. The combination gives a nod to the traditional red and green colors typically associated with Christmas.
Because this is a fun, casual tablesetting, some liberties can be taken with the placement of elements of the placesetting. For example, because space is at a premium on this table, there really isn’t a lot of room for the cutlery on the sides of the placesetting. Therefore, I have casually laid the flatware at an angle on top of the plates as shown in the photo above.
How cute is this lumberjack snowman with his little red toque! This tablesetting is all about creating a vignette and a story and making it fun.
I seriously think lumberjack snowman is eyeing up his partner-in-crime, the bird watcher, at the other end of the table and taunting him to a snowball fight! We’ll see if we can get through dinner without snowballs flying between these two!
Around, and in between, the two snowmen, I have simply made a base of faux snow. I then just laid some faux greenery, along with some pine cones, mini white twinkle lights, and a string of snowball lights, on top of the snow. The battery-operated snowball lights do double duty in that they are part of the tablesetting story and they also add some unique lighting to the table. The snowballs look eye appealing, both in daylight and at night.
I didn’t fuss too much with the placement of the greenery, red berries, and pine cones, all of which are needed to contrast the white snow.
This type of tablescape is a good option for anyone who is not comfortable creating a precise table centerpiece as there really is no right or wrong way to position the greenery.
Some of today’s faux greenery is quite a good replica of the real greenery, pinecones, and berries. Plus, it is reusable, year after year.
Using both the snowball lights and twinkle lights adds a layer of drama to the tablesetting, particularly for evening dining. Without the layers of lights, the whole center of the table would be quite dark in the evening even with ambient room lighting.
It’s always important to think about how the tablesetting will look in different lighting situations for different dining experiences. This is especially true if the dining event is in the evening when no daylight will provide natural light in the room. The snowball lights really pop and come to life after dark. With nothing more than the tree lights, the lit votives, and the snowball and twinkle lights, the table comes to life and provides a cozy, warm, and inviting dining experience.
The little votive candles exude a warm, soft glow at each placesetting. I love the detail on these votives. They add a touch of whimsy to the tablesetting.
Typically, I would seat guests around all sides of the table. However, no matter how I positioned the snowmen, someone was going to be looking at the back or side of one of the snowmen. When constructing a tablescape, it is important to ensure that all guests, from all angles, have an equal view of the whole tablescape.
To ensure optimal visibility of all sides of the tablescape in the”Snowmen and Snowballs” tablesetting, a simple fix is to place two guests on each side of the table, leaving the ends vacant. This way, all guests have a full view of the entire tablescape/vignette.
Because the taller elements (the snowmen) are at the ends of the table and the center part is low profile, it is conducive to good dinner conversation among guests. Had I placed the snowmen in the center of the table, their height would have somewhat obstructed the view of diners of their dining companions.
I hope you have enjoyed a peek of my whimsical “Snowmen and Snowballs” Tablesetting. This setting is proof that not all tablescapes have to have the focal points of interest dead in the center of the table. Sometimes, the focal points can be at either end, or indeed, both ends of the table. This works so long as there is a connector between the two such as the low-profile runner of greenery and snowball lights atop faux snow in this setting.
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To view other holiday tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:
This Easter-themed tablesetting is perfect for the host or hostess who is not overly knacky with arranging flowers. Tulips make a stunning bouquet as they come in such an array of fabulous colors. With their stately long stems, tulips practically arrange themselves!
This bouquet came from Bernadette’s Flowers in Stratford PEI and these tulips are greenhouse-grown here on the Island at Vanco Farms in Mount Albion. You can read my story following my visit to Vanco Farms by clicking here. While Vanco Farms, as of January 2019, no longer operate a retail outlet at their greenhouses, their wonderful tulips are available at local florist shops and supermarkets from January through to mid-spring. They also ship off-Island as well. They are a top quality product.
What makes this bouquet so easy is that, if you get tulips from a local florist shop, they will arrange the bouquet for you with some filler flowers as accents. Basically, all you need to do is carefully remove them from their packaging and place them, already arranged, into a favorite vase as I have done here. Easy-peasy.
Because it’s Easter, I am bringing out the good Royal Albert china for the occasion. It’s light, bright, and airy and the deep pink in the tulips and the purple filler flowers pick up the floral colors in the Lavender Rose pattern of the dinnerware.
In this tablesetting, I have opted to use white cloth placemats and to expose the wood in my dining table. The charger plates are a soft shade of pink-mauve, in keeping with traditional pastel Easter colors. Charger plates are one of the easiest ways to change out the look of dinnerware. For this pattern, I have about four different colors of chargers I use and each will bring a different look to the table.
The napkin fold I have selected for this tablesetting is the whimsical bunny ear fold. Easy to do, this adds a touch of whimsy to each placesetting. The design also produces a small cavity in which to tuck a special little treat. These napkins have a sparkly silver thread running through them that gives understated bling to the tablescape.
Scatter a few Easter eggs around the centre of the table and you’re done!
I hope you have enjoyed a little glimpse into my Easter-themed tablesetting. Have a wonderful Easter!
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For other Easter-themed tablesetting inspiration from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:
Christmas tablesettings are an opportunity to use the good china, if you have it, and to create stunning centerpieces. While I don’t always use fresh flowers in my tablescapes, I never underestimate the power and beauty of fresh and softly fragrant flowers. Sometimes, as is the case in this tablesetting, only the fresh flowers will effectively achieve the sophisticated tablesetting I wanted. Just make sure that whatever flowers are chosen, they are not potently fragrant as that can be offputting for some guests. Creating a beautiful holiday table is part of the equation but the other part is ensuring guests are comfortable for the meal.
To keep the tablesetting neutral and restful, I recommend chosing a color scheme and limiting it to two to three colors that complement each other well. Otherwise, the table may start to look busy. In this tablesetting, I used the blush-colored roses and a couple of shades of green with white as the table’s background. This strategy allows the focal point of the table (the centerpiece) to stand out.
This tablesetting has the overall effect of understated elegance with just a touch of whimsy and glitter. The table is uncluttered and the centerpiece, the anchor of this Christmas tablesetting, is the single tall and elegant triangular flute-shaped vase with eight votives attached. Keeping the tabletop uncluttered creates a stylish and sophisticated holiday tablesetting. It’s classy and creates a serene and restful looking tabletop for dinner guests.
Candles create an inviting atmosphere and give warmth to a tablesetting. Votives are great because they provide an elegant soft low light to the tablesetting and they are also relatively safe to use because they are low and won’t likely tip if the table is jerked accidentally by the knee of a guest. I find tall tapers to be a bit unnerving because they more easily can tip over because of their height. I rarely use them in tablesettings for this reason.
The principal flowers I have selected for the focal point centerpiece have meanings to Christmas and are steeped in legend. Whether or not any of these legends is true or not, I have no way of knowing but they do make for good conversation pieces.
The Legend of the Christmas Rose
Legend has it that a young shepherdess named Madelon, was tending her flock on the hillside as she watched the wise men and shepherds passing by with their gifts to present to the newborn King. Madelon, in tears and despairing that she had no gift to offer to the Baby Jesus, was seen by an angel who is believed to have made the snow at Madelon’s feet disappear, revealing a rose with pink-tipped petals. According to the legend, these petals were formed by the angel from the tears shed by Madelon. This flower then offered Madelon the opportunity to present a gift at the manger. The flower became known as the Christmas Rose.
So, I have used a dozen soft blush-colored roses with pink-tipped petals as the main flowers in this centerpiece.
Legend of Star of Bethlehem Flower
This is an all-white star-shaped flower. Legend suggests God thought that the beautiful Star of Bethlehem he created to guide the wise men to the Baby Jesus was too beautiful, after it served its purpose, not to do something more with. So, the star was burst into pieces and, when it scattered to the ground, it turned into white flowers that became known as the Star of Bethlehem flower.
I have included a single Star of Bethlehem stem in the center of this arrangement.
Other Components of the Floral Arrangement
To complement the pale blush color of the centerpiece, I have added the green bell-shaped Bells of Ireland and small green chrysanthemums. The Bells of Ireland are said to symbolize good luck and the chrysanthemums represent happiness, love, longevity, and joy.
The greenery in the arrangement is comprised of fir and pine.
The tiny white frothy Baby’s Breath (seen to the right in the photo below) has much symbolism. One of its symbols is said to represent the power of the Holy Spirit in the Christian faith. Baby’s Breath is a great filler flower for arrangements and I think it looks like little snowdrops.
I am using my Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” china in this setting and have framed each place setting with a gold charger plate. I am a big fan of using charger plates for a couple of reasons. First, I think it gives an air of elegance and formality to the setting and, second, it keeps each placesetting clean. If food should happen to drop off of a plate, it is caught by the charger plate and means fewer stains on the table linen. Different colored chargers can also change the look of a tablesetting, particularly if the same dinnerware is frequently used for events with the same guests attending.
The placesettings are set with the components of the dinnerware that will be used in the order of the menu, starting with a cream soup, followed by the salad course and, of course, the main meal. This also gives guests a clue as to how many courses to expect at dinner.
To tie in the green color from the floral arrangement, and to add a bit of whimsy and interest to the setting, I am using these glittery clip-on birds. They add a festive air and interest to the table.
Table Linens and Napkin Fold
When I am using patterned dinnerware, as I am in this setting, I like to use a plain tablecloth — usually white — because it gives me a blank canvas from which to work and display elements of the setting. The tablecloth is a vintage Irish linen cloth.
The napkin fold I am using is a fold that is known by a couple of names: 1) the Bird of Paradise; and 2) the Sailboat fold. I will often set this fold on a plate but, for this setting, I am placing it inside the stemmed wine glasses because it replicates the triangular shape of the vase and its floral arrangement. When the floral arrangement is tall, I like to use some height at each placesetting so there is not such a visual drop in depth from the centerpiece to each placesetting. Placing this fold in the stemware glass graduates the height of elements of the tablesetting.
I have chosen to use matching glassware in this setting as it gives a more formal look. Using glassware that has lots of cuts will add sparkle to any table.
A tasty meal is made all the more wonderful when dinner guests are presented with a beautifully set table. No matter what is on the menu, a thoughtfully set table adds a little extra holiday flair to a dinner party.
To view other holiday tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:
This holiday tablesetting focuses on the blush pink color. It’s a fresh look and a departure from the usual red-green-gold we often associate with the holiday period. There is nothing wrong with those colors but, sometimes, change is good.
The inspiration for this tablesetting actually came from my dining room mantle design. I had these mint julep cups and thought they would look lovely with individual arrangements in them.
This year, I wanted my dining room décor to be in a fashion that didn’t scream Christmas but yet still had an understated Christmas look and feel to it. I found these lovely pale blush pink cabbage roses at Michael’s and, well, you see the result! They have the faintest dusting of glitter to give them a bit of a festive look and, voilà, blush pink became my color theme!
The addition of fairy lights makes the mantle come alive in evening and the lights, with such a fine wire string, give the illusion that they are suspended in mid air. When I am designing my dining room mantle for the holidays, I keep in mind what the design will look like in daylight and in the evening. It’s important that the design be constructed such that it works in different lighting situations.
I have never grown tired of the pale sage green wall color in my dining room – almost any accent colors, like blush and pink gold, look stunning in the room.
Fancy tablesettings do not need to cost a fortune! When I am designing tablesettings, I don’t rush out to buy all the elements. I first go through my “storehouse” to see what I have that will work. The tablesetting I am sharing today is composed mostly of items I already had. This makes a tablesetting interesting and less of a “cookie-cutter matchy-matchy” look. It’s more curated in that carefully selected items, coming from different designs and textures, are used.
You’ve heard me say it in postings before – I like to work with a blank white canvas. It’s clean, simple, always elegant, always en vogue. I am using an antique white Irish linen tablecloth for my setting today.
Let’s start with the base. I was able to find good quality artificial greenery this year – greens that actually look real! I used two of these stems at an angle along the length of my oval dining table.
While I wanted to keep the table simple, I did add some fresh seasonal foliage, like seeded eucalyptus, to give some depth and texture. I often combine real and faux greenery to get the look I would not likely otherwise get if I used only real or all faux greens. Using some fresh natural foliage brings an element of the outdoors to the setting.
There is nothing to say the centerpiece can’t be edible! Why not make your guests salivate for dessert all through dinner! It makes a great conversation piece.
Here, I have decorated a cake which will be dessert and I have given it center table prominence by displaying it on a glass pedestal cake plate. Using a glass plate (versus a solid color) lends an airy look to the tablescape.
The cake top is constructed from Ferrero Rocher Raffaello Coconut and Almond White Chocolate Truffles to simulate snowballs, soft pink French Macarons to tie in with the blush color theme, and sugared cranberries to add a frosty look and deep color to the cake top. A sprig of seeded eucalyptus adds the natural element. Any time colored sprinkles are added to a cake, as I have done here at the cake’s base, it means it’s a party cake!
Two tall pillar candles flank the sides of the cake.
I have had the antique-look ivory pillar candle stands for years.
The candle stands have blush pink jewels hanging from their bases so they tie in well with the color scheme.
I scattered a few little white and silver votives around the centerpiece. I like to use candles of different heights in my tablescapes because their varying heights of light lend depth to the scene and, of course, candlelight always gives softness and warmth to a tablesetting. The white pillar candles have some glitter on them which adds a bit of sparking and a festive look to the setting.
In keeping with the silver and blush theme, I am using my glitzy silver and rhinestone chargers to frame the white dinnerware. I am a huge fan of plain white dishes because food colors just pop, with no distractions, on white. To tie the blush scheme in to the placesettings, I am using pale salmon-pink colored glass salad plates. I have positioned these on slightly larger white supper/salad plates because the white underneath grounds the pale pink color and provides a background for the glass plates. These pink glass plates were bought years ago at a thrift shop.
I have had these small pale pink antique pedestal glasses for years. I am not sure what their intended use was – if anyone knows for sure, please do let me know.
I am using them here for wine glasses in much the same way as I would use stemless wine glasses. The pink water glasses were a thrift shop find a few years ago. Mixing and matching styles and color tones make the setting more unique and interesting.
To add some pizzazz and glamour to the placesettings, I have opted to thread white dinner napkins through glitzy rhinestone napkin rings. Using napkin rings is a quick easy way to present napkins and you really can’t do them wrong!
I am using very basic, classic flatware in this setting and, of course, the flatware is placed in the order in which it will be used for the meal.
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse of my blush pink tablesetting. It does not scream Christmas like reds, greens, and golds do but it is a more gentle color scheme option that works for any holiday dinner. Other than some greenery and new candles, everything else in the tablesetting (excluding, obviously, the cake – it’s fresh!) was constructed from items I already had. Proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a beautiful holiday-themed table.
To view other holiday tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:
Our fall this year has simply been fabulous. Uncharacteristically for the Island this time of the year, there have been days this fall where we were still able to dine on the front verandah and today was one of those days. This will probably be the last “outdoors” dinner this fall. I thought you might like to take a little peek at the table.
Charcuterie, cheese, and fruit trays (or a combination of all three) are common for entertaining. They are relatively quick and easy to prepare, plate well, are attractive and appetizing, and they are tasty, too.
These trays, or boards, can be used for a wide variety and style of events – entertaining friends at home, picnics, potlucks, and just about any kind of get-together. You can check out a couple of picnics in which I have used combination charcuterie-cheese-fruit boards, ranging from the very simple version (click here) to the more elaborate (click here).
These kinds of boards can also be used as an appetizer or starter to a meal which is how I am using them today. Sometimes, I’ll prepare a communal tray and set it in the middle of the table where it doubles as a centerpiece. Other times, I’ll prepare individual boards for each guest as I have done here today.
Before I explain what is on the individual charcuterie-cheese-fruit boards, let’s construct the tablesetting design, starting with the blank canvas – the tablecloth.
Linens Even though this table is set for a casual get-together on the front verandah, I’ve still opted to use my favorite blank canvas – the white tablecloth. White is my “go-to” for many of my tablescapes because I like the look of clean, simple white table linen – it’s always in style and food and other elements in the setting look exceptionally good against a blank white canvas. I also think white linen lends an air of sophistication to any tablescape. The tablecloth I have used here is a vintage Irish linen cloth but any good quality white cloth or tablecloth will do…just make sure it is pressed, free of wrinkles, and doesn’t sport any stains that could suggest to guests that it has not been laundered since its last use.
I always recommend good quality dinner-size napkins be in the host’s or hostess’ linen drawer. Just like white tablecloths, they go with anything and always look crisp and chic. I’ve kept their positioning very simple on this table, simply folding them and placing them, unobtrusively, under the forks. This is intentional to maintain the casual ambiance of the table.
Centerpiece I have owned the ikebana (seen in photograph below) handmade by PEI potter, Peter Jansons, of the Dunes Studio Gallery and Café in Brackley Beach for a very long time. Peter is well-known for these ikebanas which he produces in various colors, sizes, and shapes.
Fitted with a floral frog, the ikebana is super easy to work with and an attractive contemporary-style floral arrangement is possible with any flowers and with little to no flower arranging abilities.
The flowers in this simple arrangement were gathered from our flower and herb beds, nothing too fussy. There is no need to spend a fortune on flowers for centerpieces; sometimes, nothing more is needed than what can be found in one’s own backyard!
Dinnerware For the main meal, I’m using my basic white dinnerware. But, what I’m focusing on for this posting are the very basic, simple, small wooden breadboards for the starter course – the charcuterie/cheese boards. Plates can, of course, be used for this part of the meal but, for presentation purposes, the wood boards lend a more casual, rustic, and interesting look to the table. The boards I am using are inexpensive and are proportionally sized to fit within each placesetting space.
Flatware I tend to prefer good quality basic flatware, not overdone with design. Unless you wish to spend a lot on flatware and have multiple sets, choose a plain pattern that works equally well with casual and more formal tablesettings.
Glassware I’ve mixed my antique water glasses with plain wine glasses. The cut glass in the water glasses will give some sparkle to this outside tablesetting as the sun hits it. The plain wine glasses are in keeping with the casual “bistro” style dining look I am using. The plain wine glasses will also allow the color and clarity of the wine to show well.
Additional Accents I have added a large water pitcher to the table. Apart from being functional, I like the design of the pitcher and it is in keeping with the casual dining look of this setting.
A box of locally-grown plums from Arlington Orchards rounds out the look of the tablesetting. I like to include edible props in my tablescapes, especially when they are in season and are in keeping with the theme of the meal.
What’s on the Boards? As mentioned earlier, I’ve opted to prepare separate boards for each guest in lieu of preparing one board and placing it in the middle of the table (which would also work). The benefit of doing individual boards is that each board can be tailored to each guest’s personal food preferences or dietary needs. For example, if one guest likes mild meats and another prefers spicier meats, their boards can be custom-prepared with that in mind. Likewise, if someone has gluten-free requirements, there is less chance of cross-contamination if that individual’s board is prepared separately. A sign of a good host or hostess is one who is aware of guests’ dietary needs/preferences and accommodates them. This extra touch of thoughtfulness is always appreciated by guests, especially those with dietary restrictions.
I also think it makes each guest feel more special if they sit down at the table and have a lovely individual charcuterie/cheese board set in front of them.
We grow a lot of herbs and I make good use of them in multiple ways. Today, I have included them on the boards in these adorable small bottles of high quality dipping olive oil. The herbs infuse the oil and they also add an element of interest to a simple little bottle of oil. The small white dishes under the olive oil bottles are, of course, for the oil to allow for easy dipping of the bread.
I often make my baguettes in small individual sizes because they are perfect for these types of occasions. In keeping with the rustic look, I’ve wrapped the small baguettes in pieces of jute tied with chives and garnished with a fresh sprig of thyme. They dress up the boards!
I have opted to go with two nibbling cheeses – a good quality Havarti and a really interesting mosaic-patterned cheddar from Ireland. I always try to find at least one kind of unique cheese to include on my boards and this gourmet white cheddar cheese produced by Cahill’s Farm in Limerick certainly creates a statement on the board. This is a mild cheese made with Guinness-brewer porter and covered with a brown wax coating.
The choice of meats for the board does not have to be exclusive. Local delicatessens offer lots of options in this regard. Generally, for these boards used as appetizers, include two to three kinds of meats.
Everything is in the details. Adding a few almonds add variety, interest, color, and texture to the boards.
The black cherries contribute color and shape to the board and are a great way to finish off the starter course.
Wine My wine selection for this course of the meal comes from Wheatley River, PEI. A new meadery opened in PEI in summer 2017 and it produces several kinds of mead made with fermented honey. You can click here to read my story on this new meadery.
I have chosen to pair the Island Honey Wine Company’s Wildflower Honey Mead with this starter course.
So, there you have it! Stylish little boards that make a great starter course and are sure to be conversation pieces to the start of a leisurely bistro-style dinner. Bon Appétit!
Thanksgiving has a way of creeping up on me before I am ready for it! The fall is such a busy season for me and there is always lots to do.
This year, I cooked the full turkey dinner. It’s a lot of work but nothing beats a home-cooked turkey dinner and the best part…..there are leftovers!
The color theme for my tablesetting was orange. The table linen is a soft white which really allows the charger plates and other elements of this tablesetting to stand out.
I found these lovely burnt orange charger plates with a leaf motif on them. I will use these right through the autumn season, not just for Thanksgiving dinner.
I have had the leaf-designed napkin rings for awhile and the pumpkin-themed napkins pair well with them.
The centerpiece is really nothing more than herbs from our garden and some leaves picked from nearby ditches. My mother has some bayberry bushes on her property so bay leaves form the base of the centerpiece. I also added some oregano and sage which both smell wonderful and then some bright yellow frothy dill for pops of color. The centerpiece cost me nothing and only took very few minutes to pull together.
I have added in some little votives wrapped in birch bark to keep the natural look flowing.
Some small pumpkin-shaped gourds tucked in around the centerpiece give an authentic Thanksgiving look to the table.
I tend to use a lot of heavier cut glass in autumn – the candlelight picks up the cuts in the glass and makes them quite enchanting.
The placesetting is quite simple. I was setting a rather small table and, with the centerpiece, there was no extra room on the table. I wasn’t serving either a salad or soup course so there was no need for extra cutlery. The dessert fork and spoon were brought to the table when the dinner plates were cleared and dessert served. If there is room, I often include them at the top of the plates but this setting didn’t permit the space.
I like to present the turkey, dressed, on a large platter. Sometimes, I use it as the table centerpiece and, other times, I have it placed on a sideboard in the dining room.
To “dress” this turkey for dinner, I have opted to go with a seasonal red-green-yellow theme, choosing corn on the cob, cranberries, and rosemary and bay leaves along with some whole chestnuts.
I mixed some finely chopped fresh herbs with melted butter and basted the turkey with this mixture – I like the black-specks on the turkey! I think it gives the bird some character!
It is not necessary, of course, to “dress” the turkey for table presentation. The turkey can, instead, be carved in the kitchen out of sight of the guests and brought to the table. I always like to see it nicely carved and presented on a meat platter.
Make the platter look more attractive by inserting a few fresh herbs, here and there, to fill in any open spaces and to give definition to the platter.
To view other Thanksgiving tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the following links:
I love setting beautiful tables and making them season-friendly. In our all-too-short summer season here on Prince Edward Island, I like to use fresh locally-grown flowers whenever I can. With beautiful pink flowers like those in the photo below, it’s easy to set a pretty alfresco dining table.
I have a collection of white milk glass and like its clean look. I find it transitions well to any season and any color of flowers. One of the biggest advantages I find to using the white vases is that they conceal the stems and make a cleaner-looking tabletop. When I add to my collection, I try to find pieces of the milk glass that are different shapes and sizes and, when using them in a tablesetting, I use varying sizes and shapes to add more interest to the tablescape. Taller vases add a dramatic effect and “lift” to the tabletop. Just make sure that they and the flowers are not so tall as to block guests’ views of each other as this makes tabletop conversation more difficult and gives an obstructive ambiance to the setting.
This setting lends itself well to the use of my vintage Grindley (England) Cream Petal dinnerware in the apple blossom pattern.
When I am setting a table, I first decide on whether it will be a casual, informal, or formal setting. Then, I choose my dinnerware accordingly and then select linens, flowers, vases, and glassware that will complement the dishes. Pink was an obvious theme color for this setting and was derived from the pink pattern on the dinnerware.
In this case, I chose a small-checked pink tablecloth and simple ivory-colored napkins to match the off-white color in the dinnerware’s background. Because I am using a collection of vases on the table, I need to use table linens that are fairly solid in color so they don’t distract the eye and create a chaotic look. The checks in this tablecloth were sufficiently small that they work. And, of course, it goes without saying that, regardless how casual or formal the event, the tablecloth must be ironed and all creases from any folds removed. It’s a sign of a well-set and dressed table when the linens are pressed and wrinkle-free. A casual style tablesetting does not extend to the point that the host/hostess has not taken the time to properly prepare the linens.
When using patterned dinnerware and you want to show off the pattern, choose plain colored napkins and a napkin fold that is placed on the table rather than on the plate covering up the dinnerware pattern. The napkins on this table have an embossed pattern which adds a level of texture to the table. To keep tablesettings simple for a casual dinner, use a basic napkin fold and position it under the fork(s). If you aren’t adept with fancy napkin folding, this is the easiest fold to do and it is always classy and always in style.
When using multiple bouquets as a tablescape, it’s best that they be in odd number format, versus even, as this is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It’s also preferable to vary the height and size of the vases as this adds interest to the setting. The great thing about using individual vases is that they can be configured in any format on the table – i.e., spread out the length of the table as I have done here, clustered altogether in the table’s center, or they can be clustered into small individual groupings here and there along the center of the table. If spreading the vases out, I recommend placing them in an “S” shape, as shown in the photo below, to make the arrangement more interesting.
The main thing to keep in mind with this type of arrangement is not to overfill the vases with flowers, trying to create an entire full bouquet in each. Keep it simple and casual by placing only one or two stems and perhaps a bit of greenery in some (but not nesssarily all) of the vases and varying the size and variety of the flowers used.
In this arrangement, I have chosen, among others, Sweet William, Sweet Peas, Estoma Lisianthia, and cress, varying the size, shape, and color intensity of the flowers chosen. The colors range from soft white to pale pink to medium-deep pink. By keeping the colors in the same palette and varying the color intensity just a little, it is less chaotic and more calming to the eye. The use of vivid colors on this tabletop would have provided too much contrast and taken away from the dinnerware. A tip to keep in mind when selecting flowers to use as single stems in vases is to ensure they have strong enough stems to stand on their own without drooping over giving the impression that they are wilting on the table.
My choice of floral varieties was deliberate because I wanted them to be the varieties that would suit vintage dishes and the flowers chosen are all ones that would have been found in old English-style gardens from long ago. All flowers came from Island Meadow Farm in York, PEI. Owner, Barb Jewell, grows the most amazing array of beautiful flowers and I love to pay her a visit to find some wonderful flowers for my tablesettings. You can check out her website here. She is the florist of choice on PEI for many brides for their summer weddings and I have seen photos of weddings in which brides carried stunning bouquets that came out of Barb’s small flower shop.
You can also check out this link to another, more formal tablesetting, I did using this Cream Petal dinnerware and beautiful flowers from Island Meadow Farm.
When constructing a casual tablesetting, don’t hesitate to use mixed glassware as not everything has to be perfectly matched. Here, I have used my vintage water and wine glasses and they are not a matched set. Because the dinnerware is vintage, I have chosen to use similar style glassware as opposed to sleek, contemporary stemware. Of course, the more cuts in the glass, the more sparkle and life that natural sunlight will add to the table.
As you can see from the photo below, this setting was for an alfresco dinner held on a beautiful summer day.
Even for casual tablesettings, I tend to arrange the placesettings that reflect the order of the meal to be had. Here, the placement of the salad plate on top of the dinner plate and the addition of two forks, suggests a starter salad will precede the dinner. While it is not necessary to place the plates on the table if the meal will be plated from the kitchen, doing so sets a pretty and inviting table as guests arrive. Without the plates, I would find the placesettings to be missing something.
Weather permitting, alfresco dining makes for a pleasant dining experience. On Prince Edward Island (PEI), our season for outside dining is quite short but we make the most of it. Summer lends itself to so many tablesetting options. Living on PEI, surrounded by water, it’s easy to draw inspiration from the sea which is what I have done with today’s summer seashells tablesetting.
The color theme I have chosen is very soft and pastel – the pale blue shades to represent the sea and sky complimented by shades of beige and pale salmon pink to represent the color of the sand on the beaches and sand dunes around PEI.
We Islanders love our beaches! Many tourists visit our Island each summer to enjoy our miles and miles of pristine beaches – the pale salmon pink sand common to the north shore beaches in contrast to the deep rusty red shade of sand typically found on our south shore beaches. Our shores are bordered by the rich red-colored cliffs like those to the left in the photo below.
So, as you can see, it’s not hard for me to find inspiration for sea-themed tablesettings when I am so fortunate as to live in close proximity to such natural beauty.
I rarely use patterned table linens. I find they can be a bit tricky to work with because the pattern can be busy and somewhat limiting in terms of other decor items. My preference is to use the blank canvas of a solid-colored tablecloth and add color and design features through other elements like centerpieces, napkins, candles, and so forth. However, for a change (and a challenge), I have chosen a matching tablecloth and napkins that have a seashell theme. They actually match quite well with my pale blue seashell dinnerware by Nantucket Home.
I would not use this patterned tablecloth for a formal setting but it is quite charming for a casual meal, particularly when we live near the water and when I am serving a seafood-themed dinner outside.
In terms of a centerpiece for a patterned tablecloth like this one, I recommend going with something very plain and simple, especially when this is a tablesetting for a casual dinner. What I have used here is a rustic wine holder which does double duty as a centerpiece and for actually holding the wine. This is also a great idea if the table is not large – you still have something as a focal point in the table center but it does not overpower the setting. The nautical look of the wine holder compliments the sea theme and is a great conversation piece.
Folding patterned napkins when the tablecloth background is also patterned can be a challenge. Rather than using a formal napkin fold, I have simply knotted the napkins in the center and placed them over the soup/salad bowls. This keeps the look casual and also adds a bit of lift and color to the plain dishes.
I have kept the glassware quite simple using plain wine glasses complimented by my antique water glasses. The cutwork in these glasses sparkle in the sunlight.
Regardless whether you live near the sea or not, a seaside ambience can be created using seashell dinnerware and sea-themed table linens.
It’s pretty. It’s pastel. It’s summery and this tablesetting definitely has a distinctive romantic coastal feel.
Now, it’s time to prepare the dinner! Curious as to what is on the menu for my PEI seafood dinner? I am serving PEI mussels steamed in Upstreet Craft Brewing’s “Rhuby Social” beer followed by my mussel chowder which I will serve with my homemade rolls. The main will be Island lobster in the shell accompanied by my yummy PEI potato salad. And, for dessert? Homemade Blueberry Cheese Pie will be tonight’s finale! I think all of these foods will look great on this sea-inspired table!
To view photos of another of my sea-inspired tablescapes, click here.
Every year in late June, the countryside in Prince Edward Island is blooming with the wild lupines that grow in a vast array of colors.
Lupines usher in summer on the Island as their blooms are one of the first signs of the season’s arrival. They don’t have a long season in which to bloom and they don’t last long but they range in shades of purples, pinks, white, salmon, yellow, white, and varigated.
Somewhere around the 20-25th of June is typically when they are in full bloom and at their best.
From the time I was a small child, I was in love with these tall elegant flowers. I loved to pick baskets of them and they are so easy to arrange.
On the south side of the Island, the deep purple tends to be the predominant color although other shades as they have on the north side are starting to take hold. The field in the photo below is beside my mother’s house.
Many, many years ago, I picked huge amounts of seed pods in shades of pink, shelled them (clearly I did not have enough to do at the time!) and threw them out alongside the road to the cottage. They take a long time to take root but, every year, we have more and more bunches of them growing, albeit they are mostly in the purple shades. From time to time, I will buy a few packages of seeds in other colors and plant them where there are none currently growing.
You might even find a lighthouse on PEI that is surrounded by lupines.
Today, I am featuring these glorious long-stemmed beauties in a tablesetting. I simply clipped some of these wildflowers along the roadside by my mother’s home for a pretty casual arrangement.
Summer tends to mean more casual dining and it’s fun to move the dinner party outside to the front verandah or porch or the back deck. Lupines are perfect for a casual al fresco dining event. I used small jars decorated with a bit of lace and rafia and, of course, used an odd number of jars for aesthetic purposes.
The great thing about having individual bouquets like these is that they can easily be re-positioned or clustered into different formats. Here, I have used them equally spaced in a single row along the center of the table. No need to fuss much with arranging these flowers – they are stately enough on their own that they seem to just almost automatically fall into pleasing designs and take on a personality of their own.
When I want color to pop on my table and attention to be drawn to the tablesetting’s focal point which, in this case, would be the colorful lupines, I start with a plain white tablecloth as a blank canvas. Colors always pop on white backgrounds and white provides a non-distracting background. I have several old white linen tablecloths that have been in the family for years and I make good use of them. I am noticing that many second-hand shops will often have some old vintage white linen tablecloths so they are available.
I can’t take credit for crafting these glass vases – they came from a local dollar store. I make great use of dollar stores and thrift/second hand shops for a lot of the props for my tablesettings. I interspersed little purple votives throughout the tablescape to coordinate with the color scheme.
The lupine napkins shown in the photo below coordinate with the lupine theme. Knowing that, if I tried to form them into a napkin fold, I would lose the pretty lupine design, I simply laid one over each plate. That’s the beauty of using simple, crisp white plates – they form a great clean canvas for other decorative (and useful) elements of a tablesetting.
When dining outside, contending with the weather elements can always be a challenge and, on PEI and living near the water, summer breeze is a common factor. Using the cutlery to hold the napkin in place does double duty: It secures the napkin and also lends a casual look and feel to the placesetting. Al fresco dining is meant to be casual so go ahead and break the rules of formal tablesettings!
While lupines grow wild on the Island, many visitors like to take home packages of the lupine seeds to plant in their gardens. These colorful seed packages make a nice take-home gift for guests at an early summer dinner.
The sparkle and shine of glass that has lots of cuts adds to a table on a bright summer’s day. Glass will always add a light and airy look to a tablescape.
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my al fresco tablesetting that features the famous lupines of Prince Edward Island.
It’s all about whimsy, springtime, and bunnies in this earthy-themed tablesetting for Easter morning breakfast.
Simple stalks of pussywillows are casually contained in a glass vase and secured by colorful Easter eggs at their base. Easter eggs are strewn about the table in and among whimsical little green moss bunnies. I really think the trio of green bunnies is on an Easter egg hunt!
These little fellas are so cute!
The green faux-moss bunnies are kind of a refreshing change from the traditional pastel colored bunnies.
In a departure from traditional placemats, I have used squares of imitation moss. The white dinnerware pops atop the green moss mats. White dinnerware works for any occasion and really is a good investment. I’ve used very plain flatware in keeping with the informal tablesetting.
Simple napkin rolls are held in place with pewter napkin rings that feature springtime daffodils. These were made by Seagull Pewter in Pugwash, Nova Scotia.
This setting is meant to be fun and informal.
The bunny eggcups keep the bunny theme going.
Little Easter chocolate bars adorn each cup but are easily set aside and replaced with a boiled egg, if desired, at breakfast. Who says you can’t have chocolate for a breakfast treat!
I have added a couple of larger faux moss-covered whimsical bunnies to my dining room mantle to coordinate the theme throughout the room.
For more Easter-themed tablesetting inspiration, click on the links below:
2019 Update: As of January 2019, Vanco Farm mentioned in this posting is no longer operating its tulip retail outlet at their greenhouse operation in Mount Albion, PEI. Their fabulous tulips are still available, though, at various locations throughout PEI, including major supermarkets and florist shops.
Living in Atlantic Canada, it’s not unheard of to still have snow in April. That’s one reason why I like to use springtime elements in my tablesettings beginning as early as possible – if I can’t see spring outside, I can at least create a spring zone in my dining room which is what I’ve done with this tablesetting.
I love paying a visit to the retail outlet at Vanco Farm greenhouses in Mount Albion, PEI, a short drive from Charlottetown. They grow fabulous tulips all winter long in their big greenhouses. If you haven’t already read the story I wrote about Vanco’s tulip-growing operation, click here.
Sometimes, I have a particular color scheme in mind when I make the drive to Vanco’s. Other times, however, I go with an open mind in search of a color or type of tulip that will inspire my creativity in developing a tablescape. This is what occurred with this tablesetting.
When I arrived at the greenhouses, they had these spectacular double flowered tulips in a coral pink shade with a soft ivory/pale yellow edge. They resemble peonies because they are packed with layers of petals. They were too delightful to pass up so they became the focal point of this Easter tablesetting and inspired the color theme.
If you are a regular reader of my food blog, you will recall that I sometimes like to corral the elements of my tablescape into a container such as a basket or tray. This keeps the table clean and nondistracting. This is also a good choice if you plan on removing the centerpiece from the table during the meal and replacing it with a ham or turkey on a platter. It’s much easier to pick up one container off the table than several individual items.
What I have used today for the base of the centerpiece is actually a silver mirrored bathroom vanity tray — I’m a big fan of repurposing items I have around the house.
To keep the focus on the flowers, I have used a white milk glass vase. This conceals all the tulip stems so they are not competing for the eye’s attention and the colorful tulip blooms just pop above the white vase. The plain white vase also coordinates well with the dinnerware.
To add some interest to the centerpiece, I’ve also placed a bird’s nest on a small companion piece of white milk glass and added a small Easter figurine. Adding elements that connect and enhance each other is a trademark of effective tablescape creations.
The little bunnies, like the one in the photo below, are actually egg cups but I use them to hold decorative eggs, small chocolate bars, or even flowers in tablesettings other than those prepared for breakfast.
If desired, add some colorful Easter eggs casually strewn about the table to complete the seasonal tablescape.
If you can only afford one set of dinnerware, I recommend buying plain white in the best quality you can afford. White is so completely versatile. I maintain you can’t set a poor looking table if you go with white dishes! There are so many styles, shapes, textures, and colors of white dinnerware. There are blue whites, grey whites, beige whites, and brilliant whites. I have three sets of white dishes and none of them are the same shade or made of the same material. The ones in this tablesetting are made of porcelain and are a contemporary design.
With white dinnerware, it can be paired with solid or patterned colors for table linens and the look is easily changed completely, sometimes by simply switching up the charger plates. And, the best part of white dishes is that food looks really appetizing against the white background. In today’s setting, I have used basic pale pink/mauve charger plates to frame each placesetting and to give the air of a well set table.
For glassware, I have chosen some pieces of cut glass to add some sparkle to the table.
I rarely use paper napkins in a tablesetting. However, these matched perfectly so I used them for that reason and also because they are stiff enough to be able to stand in the design I have chosen for them. Cloth napkins, particularly my large dinner napkins, would have been unlikely to have had the same effect.
Because this is a casual tablesetting, I have opted to place the mugs atop the plates, allowing them to form a leaning post for the napkins. This gives a great pop of color to the white placesettings and also keeps each placesetting clean and simple. This is a casual tablesetting so it works. I would not, however, choose this arrangement if I was setting a very formal table.
The only table linen I have chosen to use in this setting is a short runner made of handmade Belgian lace that I brought home from a visit to Bruges. Using minimal linen on the table keeps the look airy and casual.
For other Easter and springtime tablescape inspiration, click on the links below:
If you are looking for a tablesetting that is casual and contemporary, consider using single flowers in individual vases as opposed to the traditional floral centerpiece. This is an easy-to-do tablescape for anyone, even those who are not knacky with floral design. If you can fill a vase with water and place a flower in it, you can do this tablescape!
White milk glass has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years and remains, at time of writing, quite trendy. It’s clean, unobtrusive, and nondistracting on the table. One of the things I like best about milk glass is that it’s opaque meaning the flower stems are not visible. The other great thing about milk glass is that it’s inexpensive and often available at thrift shops for very little money. In addition, it’s easy to mix and match milk glass shapes, sizes, and textures and still have the tablescape work and look aesthetically pleasing.
In this setting, I have used a mixture of heights and designs of milk glass bud vases because this makes for a more interesting tablescape design. Always opt for an odd number of vases versus even numbers as this is more pleasing to the eye.
Positioning of Vases
The vases can be interspersed along the center of the table as shown in the photo above.
Or, as demonstrated in the following photo, they can be grouped into clusters of two and three and strategically placed in the center of the table.
The vases can also all be clustered close together in the center for a real concentrated burst of color making this a very versatile style of tablescape.
With this type of tablescape, it’s easy to adjust the number of vases according to the size of the table. For example, if the table seats 12 or 16, add more clusters of vases here and there down the length of the table.
Flowers and Greenery
I have chosen tulips for this design because it’s springtime and I love tulips! However, any single bloom flowers will work – roses, Gerbers, daisies, carnations, etc. Two blooms can be added in one or two of the vases but try to keep the whole setting informal, simplistic, and not too contrived or equally balanced. It’s also attractive if the heights of the tulips are varied, too.
To add more interest and some visual weight to the look, I have added a small sprig of salal to a couple of the vases, but not them all. Adding salal to every vase is starting to cross over into the zone of trying to have every vase identical. Also, adding some wispy bear grass adds texture and interest so long as not too much is added.
The tulips were greenhouse-grown here on Prince Edward Island at Vanco Farms in Mount Albion. Click here to read the story I wrote a few years ago on their tulip production.
For unity, I recommend going with all one color of flower for all the vases as it’s less distracting to the eye and looks more coordinated.
In modern, contemporary and casual tablesettings, it’s very common to forego tablecloths and, as shown in this setting, to let the wood of the table be visible. It gives a lighter, more airy, and less fussy look to the table than if a full tablecloth was used. I have opted to use basic white placemats simply to “ground” each individual placesetting.
I’m a big fan of high-quality plain white napkins because they go with almost anything. In this setting, I have chosen the pure elegance napkin fold and placed it in the center of each plate. Because the top plate in the setting is patterned, the plain white napkin keeps the setting more simplistic and less distracting than if a patterned napkin was used. This napkin fold dresses up the setting, giving it a wee bit of height. Placing the napkin on the plate keeps each place setting neat and tidy.
I advocate for the use of white dinnerware because it shows food to its best. However, I also like to set a pretty table with my formal Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” china. But, sometimes, the china can be a bit formal for the occasion. In these situations, I pair pieces of my china with my white porcelain everyday dinnerware as I have done here.
Pale pink charger plates have been used to frame each setting topped with the white dinner plate and then the Lavender Rose salad plate on top. This salad plate gives color to the setting and the colors match the tulips. By mixing the plain white with the patterned china, it makes for a more interesting setting without becoming overly formal.
The wine glasses I have selected for this setting are quite tall. They have a simple sleek shape, almost reminiscent of the tulip shape. These work well with a contemporary/modern tablesetting.
Because I have gone with a more casual contemporary look for this setting, I have used a simple design of flatware. I have not included the dessert fork and spoon because those can be placed on the table along with the dessert course. Foregoing them in the initial setting helps to keep the look of the table clean and simple, particularly when there are five vases as opposed to one single floral centerpiece.
I hope you have enjoyed viewing this springtime tablesetting! It’s great to see bright cheery colors after a long winter!
For other springtime and Easter tablesettings, click on the following links:
Just hear those sleigh bells jinglin’, ring ting tinglin’, to…..This is the song this tablesetting brings to my mind. Set with 222 Fifth’s Andover pattern, this dinnerware features a horse and sleigh in front of an old log cabin. This dinnerware evokes a very nostalgic setting that is reminiscent of Christmas past.
The border on the outside of each plate is a rust-red shade with ivory pinecones and holly. The horse and sleigh design is gray on an ivory background. This design appears only on the supper plate. The dinner plate has a plain center which allows the food to present well on it.
The cereal/soup bowl features only the log cabin design in the bottom of the bowl.
I used an off-white tablescloth and matching napkins to connect to the background in the dinnerware. Holly-berry napkin rings make napkin preparation very easy and add, what I call, jewelry to the table.
It seemed only fitting that the centerpiece for the table should feature a sleigh.
And, of course, who should be in the sleigh but old St. Nick!
And, here is a look at the table all set for dinner!
I added a few small tree candles to draw in that feature from the dinnerware design.
This is a very pretty set of dishes and, keeping the centerpiece simple, they get to be the stars on the table.
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To view photos of other Holiday tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:
I’m going with a green theme for this seasonal Christmas Greens Holiday Tablesetting, drawing the color scheme from the green leaves in my Royal Albert “Lavender Rose” china.
I often like to use a three-piece floral centerpiece featuring one larger arrangement flanked by two smaller satellites.
There is no need to completely replicate the smaller satellites to match the main arrangement entirely. However, the satellites should draw one or more colors and flowers from the central arrangement so that the three arrangements all connect and tie together.
During the Christmas season, I keep buckets of various types of greenery in my garage and then use them in arrangements. I like to limit the selection of flowers to two to three colors but use different kinds of flowers in the same colors. Here I have used two different kinds of white flowers and two different green flowers.
Floral centerpieces need not cost a lot. I often buy packages of supermarket flowers and use them to build the centerpieces. Economical containers can often be found in dollar stores.
I also like to use different shapes and textures of greenery, flowers, and berries. They add interest and depth to arrangements.
Adding a pine cone or two always adds interest to Christmas arrangements.
One of the advantages of this style of centerpiece is that various juxtapositions can be used with them on the table – the arrangements can be placed in a straight line, at angles to each other, close together to make it look like one large centerpiece, or spaced apart for distinctly unique pieces.
I’m letting the wood in my table shine in this tablesetting as opposed to covering it with a tablecloth. I am using a white placemat for each setting. The gold charger plates pick up the gold rim of the china and add an air of elegance to the table.
I like the shape and colors in this china pattern. The shades of pink, lavender, and green in the pattern lend themselves to a wide variety of color options for the tablesetting.
A simple pointed pocket fold for the napkin provides a nest for the forks. This type of fold works particularly well for napkins that, like these, have a motif on one corner.
One sure way to add sparkle to any table is to use glassware with lots of cuts. Sometimes, I mix and match my glassware but, since I am using my formal china in this setting, I decided to use all the same pattern of glassware.
This is the look when all the elements of the tablesetting are put together. The other great thing about the trio of floral arrangements is that, if the table is larger, there can be more than one larger centerpiece and/or more satellites to extend down the length of the table. It’s the type of centerpiece that is scaleable to the size of the table.
I hope you have enjoyed viewing my Christmas Greens holiday tablesetting.
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For more holiday tablescape inspiration, click on the links below: