Since entertaining is one of my “secret passions”, it follows that I also love table styling. Sometimes, I would set up my table according to a specific occasion or “theme”, and other times, I would set it up based on what I have in front of me, but many times, I would really just set it up solely based on the mood for the day!
Some people follow rules, some people don’t. Personally, rules don’t really matter to me but there are some basic guidelines we can follow in terms of place setting, such as what’s seen on this diagram below :
But here’s what I think: don’t be limited or constrained by rules — whether in entertaining or table styling. This is your home, your table, your food and your friends anyway! Let your creative expression come out. Play around, explore and enjoy the whole process! It doesn’t really matter if you make mistakes, so yes, just go ahead and have fun while you’re at it!
I have compiled here some of my favorite table settings I’ve done in the past to show you a few basic tips and tricks on table styling. You will notice that most of them are not guided by rules or don’t look “perfect” at all. This is because I really like changing things up a bit, mixing things that don’t really go together and then throwing a couple of little surprises here and there. Again, the only two things I follow are my mood for the day and how I see them fit for the occasion!
So what are The Spoiled Mummy’s tips and tricks when it comes to table styling?
Tip No.1 : Start with a main idea. Having an idea of how you want your table to look and feel like will help you put everything in place.
This table setting was for my birthday dinner with friends, so naturally, I wanted it to look more special than my other “casual” dinners. My idea was to make it look feminine and romantic. So I thought of using individual red roses (with their long stems cut) to match my silver plates and small votive candles, to exude that feminine, romantic vibe.
Tip No. 2: Reuse and repurpose. This is a practical tip to get the most value for your things at home.
On this same table setting (which is really one of my favorites!), you will notice that on the table, I used my clear glass candlestick holders as flower vases for my red roses. These are the same candlestick holders I’ve had for many years now, and they were just lying useless around the house! But look, when you line them all up across the table, top them with bold colored roses, and surround them with small candles, they suddenly look all so elegant and well put-together!
*You may also use other containers, jars, or bottles you can find in your home as your candle holders or flower vases!
Tip No. 3 : Don’t be afraid to mix colors. Mix and match to make it more colorful and fun.
I’ve always loved the pretty and dainty combination of pinks and blues. So this is what I did here : blue placemats, rose gold charger, pink and blue dinner plate (used alternately), and blue and white linen napkins (also used alternately). Glasses and coasters were all in the shades of blue too, and that flower centerpiece right in the middle of this rectangular dining table is a mix of fresh pink and blue flowers. So yes, I love pink and blue!
Tip No. 4 : It’s always a good idea to have a dessert table. Always.
And why shouldn’t you?! I’m a big dessert lover (and so are you, right?!) so it’s always good to have a dessert table ready and on hand! I usually prepare just 1-2 desserts per lunch or dinner, but I always make room for guests who bring desserts, which is usually their “hostess gift” to me! (Yes, my friends know me too well!) In my case at home, instead of setting up another table, I just use my tall kitchen counter as my dessert table. Putting all the desserts in another area of the home is also a nice way to ask my guests to stand up from the dining table, so they can move, walk around after the heavy meal! 😉
Tip no. 5 : You can never have too many candles. It sets the mood, adds light, and creates calmness around your home.
You can have as many candles and as many types as you want. I like to mix them up myself. I have scented candles (Grace Home candles of course!) in and around my living room and powder room, and then I have small votives and tall candlesticks on the dining table. And sometimes, I just change it all up and do it the other way around! Again, there are no set rules here, just do what you think is right for your theme, occasion and mood!
Tip no. 6 : You don’t need to put a lot to make a nice table. Sometimes, less is more.
A candle or two, a flower pot, a napkin ring are a few small things you can add to make your table simply elegant, without being over the top.
Tip no. 7 : In relation to tip no. 6, using just one or two colors will do the trick. Because sometimes, simpler is better.
In this case, since I was hosting a dinner for 12, and all of them were men, I wanted to use colors, textures and patterns that were masculine and yet, still elegant. So I decided to use only red and gold. I wanted them to feel at home and not feel awkward or intimidated by my usual feminine touches! So I must admit…this is one challenging table set up for me, as I had to do away with a lot of my favorite frou-frous!
Tip no. 8 : But then again, go ahead and use all the available frou-frous you have at home. Experiment and have fun with it!
Contrary to what I said in Tip no. 7, sometimes it’s also okay to use whatever things and toys (or what I identify as frou-frous!) you have in front of you for your table setting. On this Christmas table, I added my mother’s angel decor and used them as my napkin rings, and I also secretly “stole” my kids’ metal reindeer toys from the Christmas Tree and added it to our dining table! Of course, when they all saw what I did with their things, my mother was very happy but my kids were furious at me, ha ha!
Tip no. 9 : More is more. Because the more, the merrier!
Well, there are still certain occasions that I want to go all out. I go all out in terms of colors, textures, patterns, candles, flowers, frou-frous, etc! This is when I feel the occasion calls for it and / or my mood says to do so! Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. No rules to follow. This is your home remember? So make your own rules!
Tip no. 10: At the end of all the preparations, creative thinking and what-not’s in between, don’t forget to sit back, relax and enjoy your own party!
If there is just one rule you need to follow, let it be this : LEARN HOW TO HAVE FUN and BE A GUEST AT YOUR OWN PARTY!!!
The worst thing a host can do is to look stressed out and problematic during her party. And meanwhile, the best thing a host can do is to be comfortable and relaxed in her own home and enjoy her friends.
From conceptualizing, to planning, executing and hosting, I love anything and everything about table styling and entertaining! And after many years of doing this (both personally and professionally through my little events company called #TSMLuxeEvents), I have always kept in mind to ENJOY the whole process… and this includes all the challenges, stresses and mistakes I make along the way! (Where’s the fun in there if there are no lessons to be learned anyway??)