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Setting Your Dining Table for Gatherings

Life Outside the ShopDeana KetchumComment

For this post, I wanted to get a little seasonal and talk about how to gussy up your dining table for the holidays. Typically, a dining table is the centerpiece of a dinner party/holiday and I want to instruct you on how to make it a welcoming and beautiful one for your next gathering.

My favorite holiday of the year is Thanksgiving and we celebrate in our own way, for our own reasons. I love sharing a nourishing and beautiful meal with family and friends. I love taking a pause and expressing gratitude for all of the things, both big and small and I love having a day that is void of gift exchanges and grand expectations. On Thanksgiving at our home, the only expectation is a delicious meal, relaxation and being in the moment with some great people.

So, in celebration of that, let’s talk about how to make your dining table a welcoming one:

1. Think about the role that your table will need to play. Does your table need to house all of the food and dinnerware, or will you have a buffet off to the side?

*Ours will simply be a place to sit and eat with a few essentials.

2. Let it carry the tone and be reflective of the overall vibe of your dinner party. If you're looking for glamor and formality or funky and bold, this might mean incorporating more dedicated dinnerware for each course, or adding  richness or character through bold florals, candles and linens.

If you want your dinner party to have a more simple or down-to-earth feel, consider paring back on items and choose only a couple of thoughtful pieces. For example, light touches of flowers/greenery, linen napkins and some tea lights can create an inviting appeal, while managing to not look over done. You would also want to keep the color palette down to a minimum, or go for a simple tone-on-tone look.

*I am going for down to earth and cozy.

3. Add some dimension with levels/risers to gain space and create more visual interest.

4. Incorporate something from nature to add softness and an organic element. This will help to keep your tablescape from looking too symmetrical or geometric. 

Be sure to think about any heavily scented options and how they might help or hurt the vibe of your feasting table. For example, you wouldn’t want to add in those cinnamon-scented pinecones or huge bouquets of lavender as it could  overwhelm the space and kill the appetite of your guests. Think: A smelly cocktail of cinnamon roasted turkey or lavender garlic mashed potatoes. Ew!

Instead, maybe opt for some ornamental grasses, beautiful little seasonal fruit or veggies (that will remain pretty for hours when out on display), a few twigs/small branches and a splash of color from mums or goldenrod. This will provide a seasonal look that still has life and warmth!

To elevate the look with a little glitz,  spray paint some sticks with a metallic tone such as gold or silver.

*Tip: Wander around your garden or local park to discover interesting (and free!) little branches or plant clippings to incorporate in to your tablescape.

5. Consider the flow, so that once guests are seated, it is comfortable and they have most everything they need. Since the table has an important role, it will need to function appropriately. Be sure that items on the table are not obstructing the view of people sitting across from one another. This is important for comfort and ease of conversation.

6. Create ambiance. Consider some soft lighting overhead, candles for a bit of twinkling glow or a little string of battery operated lights down the center of the table. Incorporating these soft lighting touches can create a cozy feel similar to that of a lit fireplace.

And there you have it, a table that is as inviting as a bowl of warm apple crisp in your hands!

I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season ahead and that you find reasons to be thankful and take time to enjoy the simple moments with the people you hold dear.


Until next time,