I love to entertain and the most important thing to me is how my table looks. I know, I should be concerned with the food- but I leave that to the chef of the house, my husband. We have a running joke in my family that everyone has to compliment me on my table, otherwise I will get offended. It’s the first thing my family notices when they walk in the door! Here are a few of my tips to creating a great table time after time.
I like to buy linens that match the season. I use a lot of whites, pinks and royal blues in the summer. In the winter I tend to stick to white/off-white or darker hues. For Thanksgiving and Christmas I buy a lot of deep reds and browns. I also think that for the holidays its OK to go a bit kitschy. A table cloth or some napkins with a few Santas or a Reindeer is very festive. Go for tablecloths that can be put in the washing machine. While sending your table linens out to the dry cleaner is easy, it that can also be expensive. By washing them yourself, you can work on any wine or other stains that may have occurred during the enjoyment of the meal.
Look for tablecloths with a 7 inch drop- this will give you good cover and a classic look.
SFERRA offers one called the Juliet that I’ve bought in multiple colors. These can often be found on sale at Bloomingdales or Gracious Home. It’s a must have in your linen closet- great looking and durable. Other vendors I’ve bought from include Williams Sonoma (Great for seasonal themes), Beauville, & Roberta Roller Rabbit. Another great tip- pick up a great table linen on your next vacation. I picked up this uniquely Greek styled piece (above) last summer while in Athens.
Placemats are really only necessary when you aren’t using a tablecloth. For a big, formal dinner like Thanksgiving, definitely use a tablecloth and leave the placemats for another meal. Do use them though for more casual dinners- they accessorize easier and give you many options to mix-n-match. Chilewich and Kim Seybert are my go to brands.
Try to avoid buying napkins that exactly match your tablecloth. In fact, nothing beats simplicity in this category, as one of my “must-haves” is white napkins (whether classic all-white or with a gold trim). Keep an eye on One Kings Lane, who often carry a great selection at bargain prices.
Napkin Rings are a fun and quick accent and many are available in seasonal styles. I have some with sea shells for the summer, and sparkly ones for the holidays. I love napkin rings from Kim Seybert. While a bit pricey, they will prove their value over many seasons in your rotation. Make the investment to have a few different sets of napkins rings- from classic to seasonal festive- and you’ll always have the right accent to create your perfect table.
It’s essential to have florals on your table. I tend to splurge and order flowers, but you can create your beautiful arrangement with some well-chosen offerings picked out at a local flower shop. Go for flowers that will pick up the accents of the table. For the holidays, add pine cones, ribbon, or other decorative accents. For a tabletop filled with reds and whites, use silver napkin rings and then have the florist add silver accents (such as decorative balls) into the arrangement.
Collect and stockpile candles and always buy in twos! If your flower arrangement is in the middle of the table, arrange a candle on either side. When hosting a large party at a big or round table, I’d recommend placing a few additional candles amongst your tabletop. Candle holders can also create a classic look with simple white candles. I picked up these Agate Candles on a recent Weekend get-away. Check out Pottery Barn for a great selection.
Get creative and add other accents to your table. For Christmas, Reindeer and Snowmen; for Fall, small Pumpkins (gords) and little bowls of candy. Mix in some of your kids’ small crafts (mine in the past have made paper mache pumpkins and turkeys and I have used on my Thanksgiving table). Many of these items are collectible and can be used year after year. Lastly, I love to buy festive cookies from Eleni’s and put them on a plate for display as my guests arrive. Its a little teaser for what’s to come!
Let the entertaining begin…
Photos throughout by Nicholas Prakas Photography: http://www.nicholasprakas.com/ unless otherwise noted. Follow on Instagram @prakas.