Wel­come din­ner party guests with a stylish ta­blescape

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - DE­BRA NOR­TON

Stylish ta­ble decor for your din­ner party can come to­gether eas­ily and doesn’t have to break the bank.

The key is to use what you have, or can bor­row, to pull to­gether a pretty ta­ble al­most ef­fort­lessly. Whether you pull out the fancy china or keep it ca­sual with ev­ery­day dishes, plan­ning ahead elim­i­nates the stress — you might even find it fun.

Fresh gar­land, a few hand­made touches and flick­ers of candlelight, cre­ate a magical am­bi­ence to make your guests feel warm and wel­come. Start with a base Fresh, clean ta­ble linens in neu­tral colours such as white pro­vide the per­fect base for your ta­ble. Think of the table­cloth as a can­vas, the start­ing point for lay­er­ing on the var­i­ous el­e­ments of your ta­blescape. A white cot­ton cloth and white nap­kins al­lows the ta­ble decor, dishes and stemware to take cen­tre stage. Re­mem­ber: pull your table­cloths out and check for stains well ahead of your big night so you don’t have to make a mad dash for bleach or re­place­ments.

If you need to pur­chase a new table­cloth, don’t for­get to mea­sure the ta­ble be­fore you go shop­ping. For the size, mea­sure your ta­ble’s length and width or if it’s round, the di­am­e­ter.

Most store-bought table­cloths have a fit­ting guide on the back. Add a cen­tre­piece The fo­cal point of your ta­ble doesn’t have to be a big bou­quet of flow­ers. Try long and low with a gar­land of fresh green­ery span­ning the en­tire length of the ta­ble. This makes sure ev­ery­one can see each other and en­joy the ac­cent from their seats. Plus, it prob­a­bly smells di­vine.

With this plan, you don’t need a de­gree in flower ar­rang­ing to im­press your guests. First, buy some green­ery (if your neigh­bour’s hedge is at­trac­tive, ask first!). You’ll find stan­dard va­ri­eties used in bou­quets — green cy­press, box­wood, salal and orange hy­per­icum berries — at a neigh­bour­hood flower shop.

Keep ev­ery­thing in wa­ter un­til you’re ready to de­sign your ta­ble. Layer it on A din­ner party is a great time to pull out the fancy dishes you might have stored away. Wed­ding china that rarely sees the light of day can be mixed with ev­ery­day white din­ner­ware will keep the vibe el­e­gant, but ca­sual. White dishes are like the lit­tle black dress of the din­ner ta­ble; they look good with ev­ery­thing. Add the sil­ver­ware Sil­ver­ware is your ta­ble’s jew­elry. You might have an heir­loom set miss­ing a few pieces, it isn’t worth stress­ing over. Just mix it up. The days of hav­ing ev­ery­thing match are passé. Plus, that’s bor­ing.

You can of­ten find old sil­ver­ware and stain­less steel pieces at an­tique mar­kets. You can put to­gether an eclec­tic col­lec­tion that can be much more in­ter­est­ing (and maybe even less ex­pen­sive) than some­thing from a big box store.

Just imag­ine how many din­ner par­ties old sil­ver­ware have wit­nessed? The sto­ries it could tell. A trio of stemware Hav­ing some­thing to sip at ev­ery course of the meal may mean putting out cham­pagne flutes, glasses for white wine and red, tiny port glasses for dessert wine and wa­ter glasses to stay hy­drated along the way.

You can bor­row and mix here too, from clean lined flutes to sparkly cut crys­tal. Per­haps con­trast that with a pop of fresh green glass­ware.

Don’t worry if you don’t have enough wine glasses for all of the wine cour­ses. An all-pur­pose glass be­tween the sizes of a red wine glass and white wine glass will do just fine. You don’t even need to rinse them be­tween cour­ses, re­ally. Light the ta­ble Candlelight and din­ner par­ties go hand in hand. The soft glow adds to a re­laxed am­bi­ence. Pick up a box of ta­pered can­dles. It will last through this night and many more in the fu­ture.

Try five brass can­dle­sticks down the ta­ble, tucked among fresh green­ery. They don’t need to match. Vary­ing sizes and styles can work to­gether as long as you stick to one shade of metal. Make it spe­cial Place cards add some per­son­al­ity to the ta­ble and to tie it back to the theme. If the menu fea­tures cit­rus fruit, for ex­am­ple, go with a fun, ed­i­ble op­tion — like clemen­tines. Keep the leaves look­ing fresh by stor­ing them in the re­frig­er­a­tor cov­ered with a damp cloth or pa­per tow­els un­til it’s time to set the ta­ble.

Hand­writ­ten name tags for the din­ner party shown here were made with kraft pa­per and a hole punch and tied to the stems with twine.

Adding ed­i­ble style to your ta­ble keeps your props in sea­son and can build on your menu’s theme. Think about pears, ap­ples or lemons or even a sprig of rosemary.

Voilà! Your ta­ble is ready.

MAR­CUS OLENIUK, TORONTO STAR

Whether you pull out the fancy china for your din­ner party or keep it ca­sual with ev­ery­day dishes, plan­ning ahead elim­i­nates the stress.

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