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September 25, 2017

Tips for a Great Dinner Party | Cozy Table Setting



Tips for a Great Dinner Party & Setting the Scene

A great table setting isn't really about the elements, it is creating a feeling.  I wanted this table to feel so cozy and comfy that everyone would want to linger for hours.  I layered linens upon linens, creating that collected feeling that only mixing and matching can create.

This setting is all about making guests feel comfortable - come in, help yourself to wine and settle in to this table for hours of conversation and company.  While at first it might look complex, it is created from all very simple elements.  I used simple glass votive candles, roses in tall drinking glasses, and layers and layers of linens.  I put a set of Tall Taper candles (in Edgartown Sand) on the small buffet in the background with self-serve wine area.

I love how wide and long the Block Print Runners are.  They are more coverage than a typical runner, but not an entire tablecloth.  They really help bring a really large table down to scale, making it feel more cozy.

Blue Hydrangea Block Print Runner, 20" wide x 108" length, $36

The Runners come in all prints - here >



On the Block Print runner, I layered a White Hemstitch Runner ($28).  It is slightly smaller and helps to tame the print.  Next, I used Natural Hemstitch Placemats (2 for $16) to soften each setting.  I love how inexpensive and classic these elements are - I will use them every single season, changing out the prints and the flowers to create a completely different look.

Stocking up on essentials like these making entertaining so easy.  I recommend having at least 12 coordinating Napkins and a Runner like the White Hemstitch.  Then you can mix them with prints and different accents (flowers, pumpkins, etc...) throughout the year.  Start with the basics first, then add prints and colors.


I hardly ever make complex centerpieces.  Because entertaining isn't about flowers or centerpieces, it is about setting a scene and creating a feeling.  These low, simple arrangements do just that by being simple, and bringing a warm glow to the middle of the table.  The are not the center of attention, they are part of the entire mood.  For me, there is nothing as pretty as one kind of flower in a simple glass.  Unpretentious and pretty.

 



When I'm entertaining, I like to have every. single. thing. done. before guests arrive.  That even means having the pitcher full of water.  I put ice in, and then by the time we sit down the water is perfectly chilled, but easy to pour without big chunks of ice.  We're not really iced water people - but rather chilled water people.  I know that seems bizarre (and excessively particular!), but I blame Houston's ; )   If you've been there, you know that they serve chilled bottles with cold water.  No ice.  So much easier to drink.


I love self serve drinks - as a guest and as a hostess.  When I'm invited to someone's home, I like to feel like a part of the family, not like I'm at a restaurant. 


 Being able to help myself to more wine, or help someone else to some makes me feel comfortable and relaxed. 


It also helps to keep it out of the kitchen.  That way guests can help themselves without getting in the way of last minute dinner prep - and it helps to move them closer to the dining table when it is time for dinner.


This area works perfect for us, as it is near the head of the table so Mike or I can easily grab an extra bottle to refill as needed.


Candles are so essential.  Turn the lights down and lite all of the candles you have.  It really sets the mood and relaxes everyone.  We even do this for family dinners.  It makes the dinner feel special and the focus - everything else fades into the background.  Including dust and dirty floors.




Don't be afraid to mix and match chairs.  We do it all of the time when we're squeezing more people at the table.  I also mix and match glasses, plates and flatware.  Matching is over-rated. 


I added a few deep purple leaves to the peach roses to give the roses a little more depth and fall-ish feel.  If it were spring, I could add sprigs of fern and it would feel totally different.  



For an extra special setting like this, I would serve a really simple comforting dinner like Provencal Beef Stew (top) or Slow Simmered Beef Ragu (bottom).



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