Create a Tablescape Without Blowing the Budget

Posted by Annette Bellisari on

A tablescape is simply a blanket term that combines your table’s centerpiece and place settings or the overall decoration of your table. Tablescapes set the mood in an event – whether it’s a garden wedding, an intimate dinner party, or Sunday brunch with friends. A tablescape is meant to elevate an entertaining experience. It’s a way to show your guests that you care about them and that the meal is special. This doesn’t have to be something that you spend a ton of money on or even any money at all! Some of the prettiest tablescapes I’ve ever seen have included flowers picked from the yard and everyday dishes.

These tips will help you design the look you want:

Find your inspiration -- You can be inspired by the season, a holiday, a place, or a color/pattern. Sometimes an item will jump out at you while shopping and you’ll create a tablescape around it. Other times you’ll feel drawn to a flower and that will set the color scheme for the entire thing! This time of year is easy because your theme can be holiday related, or even more versatile, use winter elements like snowflakes, pine cones, etc. This can work for the entire season!

Gather Your Materials -- Many items you use can be things you already have. Basics include things like dishes, silverware, glasses, napkins, runner/tablecloth, candlesticks, candles, glassware, serving pieces, flowers/branches which can be faux or natural. The best two items to have in your tablescaping arsenal include white dishes and clear glassware. These are the basics to which you can add as much color, texture, and/or drama as you like vis a vis napkins, placemats, tablecloths, and centerpieces.

Choose Your Base -- Before you begin, choose a tablecloth, runner, or whatever will lay the foundation for creating your tablescape. If you don’t intend to use the table for anything else but display, plan away. Otherwise, take up no more than 1/3 of your table with a tablescape. You want your tablescape to stay intact, but make sure that people can still set down their plates and cups without bumping things over. One of my favorite things to use as a runner is craft paper, which guests can then write on. I’ve also seen people use blankets and scarves. Be creative!

Compile Your Centerpiece -- The centerpiece is the most important part of your tablescape, so create it first. You usually don’t want to create displays that are so tall that your guests can’t see people right across from them at the table. I generally put the tallest candles and florals closer to the heads of the table, but I offset them from each other. For example, for those sitting at the opposite heads of the table, the floral arrangements will both be to their right hands, so opposite sides and not in a visual straight line. I like to vary texture throughout my tablescapes. I do this with natural elements such as branches and flowers and even through things like a woven runner or rattan chargers. The “Rule of Threes” applies to creating tablescapes. I love to use three candleholders, three different types of flowers, three colors etc. After placing the larger items, I sometimes go through and tuck greens or floral branches throughout the centerpiece. I also sometimes scatter votive glasses (in safe, non-flammable spots) to break up the symmetry. A centerpiece can be as simple as a bowl of fruit or a vase filled with flowers. It can be as complex as the imagination will allow. It should always, however, make a statement about the meal itself, the guest of honor, or the theme (e.g., Christmas, Valentine’s Day).

Create Your Place Settings -- This is where your guests sit to eat and converse, so create your place settings thoughtfully. Include things you’ll need for the food you’re serving, like a soup bowl if you’re serving soup or stew. Begin with your charger or placemat, then plate. From there add any additional items. I often place napkins on top of the plates with a napkin ring and use a casual utensil arrangement. Other times I’ve wrapped my utensils in the napkin.

If unsure about what might work together, look at some of the high-end stores or hop on the Internet to see what’s trending. Pinterest is a great source for inspiration. Then tailor it to make sense for your event and guest list. Obviously, when hosting a meal, the food is extremely important, so keep a stock of Bellisari’s Gourment Spreads and Sauces in the pantry to create delicious dishes for your guests, but remember, presentation counts for a lot too! Happy Holidays from all of us at Bellisari’s!

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