Five Steps for Creating The Perfect Tablescape
By Megan McClelland
For many of us, slowly transitioning back into socialising means intimate gatherings with friends and family over the course of a shared meal. If you’re lucky enough to be delegated “hostess with the mostest” at one of these events, then you may be feeling the pressure to show how truly special your loved ones are to you. This is especially so if you actually haven’t seen them off-screen in a few months. To help simplify the job, here are five steps to creating the perfect tablescape for your next event, that will be sure to enhance your time and render all of your dishes totally picture-worthy.
Create some space in your head to pinpoint what you want out of this event. It could be that your summer plans to Portofino were dashed in the midst of lockdown and that this gathering is the opportunity to live out your la dolce vita fantasy with marinated olives, seafood pasta and a Campari Spritz. You could also want to tear a page from your Grandma’s cookbook and stir up a family recipe served in a sharing platter. Whether you want to go all-out or keep it simple is up to you - it’s about managing what you put onto your plate during this time.
The Flat Lay
Once you’ve envisioned the concept, location and color palette of your gathering, it’s time to curate your table setting. This step is labeled “the flat lay,” because we’re using aspects of flat lay photography to plan out the picture perfect color coordination and detailing of your set-up. Start with the contents of a classic table setting, like the one in the image above. Then stylize the hell out of it, to make something traditional feel more you, for example replacing the bread plate with a small bowl of honey roasted almonds or crisps. Make as many alterations as you see fit, because, hey, if teacups or martini glasses actually fit your event better than the traditional glassware then so be it. Opt for dishware that aligns with the color palette you decided on and really let your creativity shine.
Placing a name card on each table setting for your guests is a great way of letting them know that they were personally thought of when you were putting the event together. Their placement can also be a strategic part of planning on your behalf, as guests with common interests may find one another to be great company during the meal. The style of these cards can be as simple as printing their name out on stock paper and them placing atop of their napkin. You could also go a step further and attach them to customized menus based on dietary restrictions. Be sure to play around with the fonts to find one that best matches your event’s theme.
Depending on the size of your table, you may choose to have one grand floral arrangement set up in-between two small, complimentary arrangements or have one large, linear botanical display that spreads lengthwise across the table. Here, you can draw out any themes or color palettes you’ve decided on for your gathering by choosing a centerpiece that embodies your concept. This could be a spread of dried pampas and lavender for a rustic country theme or a fresh bouquet of anthuriums and palms for a coastal moment. Like any other art, they’re going to add beauty to your tablescape and cultivate a rich scene for your guests.
Finally, setting the mood for your tablescape. Here we consider the location your event is set in, what you wish to achieve conceptually and how you can realize it with your choice of lighting and decor. Perhaps your event is set poolside in the backyard and you want to invoke a mod 60s style. To do this, you could put brightly colored candlesticks into some porcelain canelé candle holders, employ sculptural vases for your floral arrangement and bring out Mondrian style dishware. (This is where the martini glasses may come in handy). And if a relaxed gathering is more your thing, then simple candlesticks mixed in with a botanical display and serving jugs would do the trick of elevating your tablescape too. It’s about cultivating an energy that you want to be in and that your guests will be comfortable with too.
If stand-out tablescapes have only just piqued your interest or if you’re too pressed for time to plan one out, then you can always choose the option of renting your materials to create one. Some services will even set them up for you. Ultimately, it’s about showing our loved ones how dear they are to us this summer, as we gather around the table to create meaningful memories.
Images by Souk then Supper
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