Friday, February 24, 2012

Table Settings

Tablesettings from HGTV, found on Pinterest

In keeping with previous posts about hospitality, today I'd like to share some table setting ideas. The one in the photograph above shows a  square printed table cloth with a border, placed over a lace one. You can do this sort of thing with fabrics, too, and also, you can use some really nice clear plastic over them so that you can preserve your antique cloths or fabrics.  Do  not get the foggy looking plastic if you want your cloths to look really bright. Look instead for the clear type that you get by the yard at WalMart or fabric stores, that has a paper backing. The plastic covers are ideal when serving tea. and can be washed in a pan of hot soapy water and wiped dry with a towel while they are warm.

There are supposedly rules about table settings and table linens, but these days, the hostess can decide whatever suits her best, and besides, it can also be a matter of creative ideas, using what you have. Using plastic is not supposed to be proper, but if you are a busy homemaker and do not want to be constantly washing your linens, the clear plastic makes more sense.

The large basket of flowers, a pretty centerpiece, is kept at the end of the table, so that guests can converse easily without dodging huge obstacles in the middle of the table. I recently went to a commercial tea at a tea room in town, where the center of the table was piled so high with impressive centerpieces, that friends could not even see each other across the table, and children's views were totally blocked.  This is one mistake people are making with centerpieces, so I experimented a little here at home and came up with just a couple of things you could do. 

When preparing a table for Tea, I often use the tea pot and the food as the center pieces, and they are low enough that they do not block the view of people across the table.  You might consider using food on a pretty platter as your centerpiece.

A wired garland of fake flowers makes a nice centerpiece that can go all around the table, without interfering with the service of the afternoon tea. Use fresh greenery such as cedar branches, holly or laurel if you have them.

It does not matter if your table cloth is wrinkled, as it gives it an artsy look. The one I'm using here was not easy to press, so I used it wrinkled and it looked fine.

While proper placement of utinsels and dishes has its merits, the hostess is free to develop her own customs and styles. If it is to be an afternoon tea, I usually put the cup and saucer on top of the lunch plate, because guests always want to begin with a cup of tea. Later they put the cup aside and load their plates with sandwiches and other foods. It is ultimately up to the hostess, but if you have a very small table, this is a good way to do it. 

 You can go here to find table setting guides here and other places on the web. Though they always  show the knife edges turned toward the plate, I do not always do that, because some of my knives (yes, they are cheap) have engravings of the type of steel and the company that makes them, right on the blade on the other side. So, for this setting, I've turned the knife blade the other way.  I made this simple so that a new hostess would not find it too daunting. A white table cloth can be put in the dryer to remove wrinkles, as tablecloths are difficult to iron due to their size.

  It is perfectly alright to use paper napkins,  (which officially are not proper) since it is easier to find the colors you need, and they are not expensive if you get them at the dollar stores.  Plastic or wood chargers can be used for color contrast in a table setting, but they are not necessary. I used it here because the white plate looked better on it than on the white cloth.  Play around with your settings and rearrange til you get what makes you happy.

These little vases are squat enough to hold a fresh or fake flower and greenery and still see across the top to other people seated at the table, so that conversation is easier.

 If you need a placemat for color contrast in your table setting, you can trace around a very large dinner plate on to a piece of large square scrapping paper, and then make a napkin ring from a strip of the same paper.

Placemats and table cloths make things a little softer and quieter at the table. It puts some padding between your dishes and the table.

Whatever you do, being a hostess should be enjoyable, and these ideas should make you feel it is more than just hard labor, but a chance to create and to brighten someone's day.


Barbara Neubeck said...

Hi Lydia,
I like your ideas and the relaxing of the 'rules' makes it easier to be creative with our settings. I don't like anything tall on the table.
God Bless
Barb from Australia

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you've been posting more frequently lately. I look forward to reading your blog more than any other.

That teacup with the thatched cottage on it is one of the prettiest I've ever seen. What is the name of the china and pattern?

We just got rid of an ugly old entertainment center in our small living room (got rid of that ugly old tv too!)and put in its place a breakfast-sized table that I am now experimenting with different table setting and decorations, using many ideas from your blog. It really does brighten up the room and my daughter and I have taken to eating breakfast and lunch there.

Thank you for so many good decorating tips for those on a tight budget.


Lydia said...

The other end of the tea cup and plate says Regency China, made in England, and there is no date and no name for the pattern. I once looked it up on the web and found it was part of a series of cottage cups, each different.

Lydia said...

There is a cottage tea cup here but it is not the same. I got mine at a 2nd hand store.

Rightthinker said...

Oh how beautiful!

Wonderful ideas, suggestions and such feminine beauty!

Thank you for this post!

Lydia said...

Nice to see you Australians. You bring sunshine.

Blessed Homemaking said...

Thank you for all the lovely ideas. I do not even own a tablecloth and hope I can get one soon.

Lydia said...

Mrs. Q. You do not necessarily have to use a tablecloth. Tables can look just as appealing without them. For those who have children and find the tablecloths inconvenient or worry they'll be pulled off the table by a toddler, it might not be advisable.

Jessica Kramasz said...

The table setting is so beautiful! I just love how it exudes peaceful femininity.

Anonymous said...

Your paper place mats with matching napkin rings are such a good idea!! I might use pinking shears for a scalloped edge on them! :)

I really enjoy your blog.