I’ve always enjoyed entertaining. I love sharing our house and a home cooked meal with our friends and family when they come to visit. I especially love throwing a dinner party here at The Little Glass House. It is a great place to gather with the dining table being the star of our home. It sits right in the middle of our open concept space. So naturally, I like it to look appealing when our guests arrive. What I don’t like is to overthink it. Entertaining should be fun….not something to stress over. I try to do as much as I can beforehand (I set the table in the morning) so that I can be relaxed and present when guests arrive. It’s not easy for folks to enjoy themselves if the hostess is running around like a crazy person trying to take care of last minute details!
I like to keep things simple so that the food and the guests are the stars of the evening. For me that means my white Williams-Sonoma everyday dinnerware. Food looks better against a plain white background. Living in a smallish house means there is not a ton of storage for stashing lots of different table settings (no Christmas china for me!), so I have chosen things I really love that can work in any situation. My go-to water goblets are from Simon Pearce. They can be used for a casual pot luck or a festive holiday party. They are hand blown so each one is a little different which I think makes them special. I usually use my stainless steel flatware that I received for my wedding but if it’s a dinner for six or fewer, I sometimes use my silver-plate for fun. Most of my napkins are linen or cotton in solid colors of white, taupes, and greens.
You may be thinking well, yeah, that’s simple but it’s also pretty dull. That’s just the foundation. This is where the fun stuff comes in! I’m not a big fan of tablecloths. I really hate ironing. And besides, I love the warmth that comes from seeing our rustic wood farm table. In lieu of a tablecloth, often times I will use a runner. Paper runners are fantastic in that they come in so many different patterns and colors. Best of all you can just toss them when dinner is over! One of my favorite runners is a piece of rustic linen that I bought at Terrain a few years ago. It instantly adds character to a casual meal.
Placemats can be fun and are a good way to introduce some texture to the table.
Then of course, there is always the question of a centerpiece. What the heck do you do with all of that real estate in the middle of the table? Be sure that whatever you do, don’t block the view of the person who will be sitting across the table from you by using a towering floral arrangement. With a long farm table, I don’t like to have just one arrangement of flowers in the middle of the table. I like to use the whole table. Inspiration can be found at our local Farmers Market, the back yard, or very often the food store. What I can tell you is that I never spend a lot of money on my tablescapes.
A Spring centerpiece can be as simple as some white hydrangeas and little $1.99 pots of ivy from the local grocery store on a pretty paper runner. Add two big candles on blocks of wood, lots of votives (I always use votives…everyone looks great by candle light) and you have a fresh and simple Spring table!
Replace the hydrangeas with succulents and rustic twig votive holders, and you are ready for a casual summer supper…
While I loved Autumn when I lived in Connecticut, I was never a fan of the color palette. I love the reds, oranges, and gold in the landscape, just not for my decor. So for a fall dinner party I set the table with some light green hydrangeas and mini white pumpkins from you guessed it….the grocery store.
Christmas and New Years were special last year as we had family staying with us. As you may have guessed by now, I’m not really a red and green type of Christmas gal. I was stumped on a theme for the table when I noticed our olive tree blowing outside. I grabbed my clippers and gave it a bit of a pruning. I laid down a white cotton runner, held down by my wood blocks, added some silver candle holders and started laying olive branches down the center of the table. Super easy but oh so pretty!
New Year’s Eve I used olive branches again, but this time put them in some vintage French bottles. Add some pinecones, lots of candles, and a bottle of Champagne chilling and you have an easy, festive table to ring in the New Year!
Table settings don’t have to be fancy or complicated to be pretty. Sometimes simple touches are all you need. But the best accessories at the table (besides lots of candles), are your friends and family who are what really make the party sparkle.