We have almost made it through 2020! I think we can all agree that this year’s end is one none of us will mind seeing. These last few months might or might not contain extended-family celebration dinners. I know some will choose to stay with their immediate household members, while others will choose to celebrate with loved ones from afar.
No matter what you decide is right for your family, a beautiful table setting is something you can do to make the day seem just a little brighter. And yes, you can pull off a gorgeous table setting! It’s not so hard — you can do it! And to help, here are a few tips.
- Use a table cloth or fabric place mats. Choose something with a pattern that you love and work from there, or choose a plain color and watch everything else pop.
- Use fabric napkins. Yes, you have to wash these at the end, but nothing ups the “wow” factor of a table setting faster than cloth napkins. You can usually find multiple packs for fewer than $10, or if you have a sewing machine, a square is as simple as it gets. I like to find fabric that matches my table cloth, but a simple pattern that can be used the next whole year as everyday napkins works too. 100% cotton makes the best napkins and washes up well too; just be sure to wash it prior to sewing in order to pre-shrink it.
- You have several options for displaying your beautiful cloth napkins. You can fold them flat and place them in the middle of the plate; you can fold them into silverware holders or designs (check out Youtube for lots of options); or you can put them in a napkin ring…which brings me to my next point:
- You can buy or make napkin rings. Even the simplest item can become a napkin ring: a slip of brown paper or ribbon or a foam pumpkin you’ve drilled a hole through. You are only limited by your creativity here (or by those glorious souls on Pinterest).
- Dollar Store charger plates are a game changer. I have only found them in gold or silver, but if you’ve read any of my home decor blogs, you’ll know that I have a spray paint for everything and chargers are no exception. Spray those any color you like, although again, a basic color that can be used for other occasions is really handy. My chargers are white and I use them all the time for various occasions.
- Name/place cards are a really fun addition to any table, for any occasion! Whether you ask the kids to make them and choose everyone’s seats, or you go all out and design or buy them yourself and decide where to put crazy Uncle Frank for the most (or least) outbursts at dinner, I think they add a little something extra to each place setting.
- I hope you already know this, but USE THE CHINA! Just your family of four? Use the China. Got the whole family at your house? Use the China! Don’t have enough for all the guests? Use the China and just mix in your regular plates for a funky, fun, eclectic table. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard older ladies give this advice at bridal showers. Yes, something might get broken, but nothing is more priceless than your family’s JOY.
- This one is important: silverware. (Because we need to get that food to our mouths and bellies!) Table etiquette dictates that forks go on the left and knives and spoons on the right. If you are setting multiple pieces of silverware, the items go as follows:
9. Table decor. Absolute number one thing here: remember you need your table space for the food dishes! Do not decorate your table to the point where none of your dishes will fit on it. If you can, use cake plates and candlesticks to elevate the decor just a bit, while leaving space for side dishes of food. And don’t forget that you’ll likely need a few trivets for those last-minute dishes coming from oven to the table. Incorporate these into your decor if possible. Still have a box in the basement with leftover wedding centerpieces? Those wood slices will make perfect trivets and they’ll look good too.
10. To save yourself time and to make the best possible table, try to anticipate your guests’ needs. While you’re finishing the turkey, give your kids jobs like setting out butter and putting salt and pepper shakers on the table, or filling water glasses. It will save you the job and help your kiddos feel like they are a big contributing part of the family meal.
I hope these tips help! At the end of the day (and year), it’s the memories we make which really matter, so do not let a dinner stress you out. Enjoy it, and know that even if you burn the turkey or total your car with the pies in the back (true story), your family will enjoy time together and have a fun new story to tell for years to come!