Ohhh how we have missed the sound clinking of cutlery on china, the fizz of bubbly being poured into champagne coupes, and the joyful hum of dinner-table conversation! We are beyond thrilled to be able to finally plan some summer soirées with guest lists that extend beyond our immediate families. Whether you’re planning an intimate gathering indoors or a lavish evening under the stars, on a warm and humid night, there are plenty of things to consider! Certainly, food and drink ought to be the first consideration but following that, we like to think about the ambience. “Tablescaping” (fancy term for setting the table in a decorative way) is no longer exclusively reserved for grand events such as weddings. These days, any type of social gathering is reason enough to bring out the fancy flatware, fresh-cut flowers and beautiful table linens. A carefully-curated table, regardless of how simple or minimalist it may be, has the power to transform the entire experience for the better. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when it’s your turn to host…
1. Keep It Seasonal
In a previous post, we touched upon the idea of tableware being a great opportunity to embrace the current season. When setting up for your summer soirée, let the season be your guide. Think about what is currently in season in the orchards and vegetable gardens for inspiration for both your menu as well as the palette of your tablescape. Though you may not wish to serve peaches, for example, peach-y hued napkins can look incredibly fresh and elegant. Alternatively, take a look at what’s in bloom. This can further inspire the palette of the table as well as the florals themselves. Right now, our gardens are brimming with gorgeous hydrangea bushes. They can look stunning when arranged in vases of varying heights or simply use the white and soft green petals inspiration for your tablecloths or placemats. Beyond your table linens, candle stick holders and glassware can add colour too. Blue delphiniums could be paired with wine glasses or crystal tea-light holders of a similar colour.
Image and products featured above courtesy of Food52.
2. Mix It Up
Whether we are decorating a home or a table, we like things to look somewhat effortless. The best way to do this is to take a “no rules” approach. The goal is for things to look chic and tidy, of course, but not overly contrived. One of the most common errors we see is the failure to mix metals. Brass, rose gold, and gold-toned fixtures and accessories have been incredibly popular over the last few years and although we are fans of the trend, too often it is taken too far. Just because you have rose-gold cutlery out for the occasion, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your chargers should also be rose gold. In fact, quite the opposite. Having things overly matchy-matchy creates a vibe that is stiff and stuffy. Instead, don’t be afraid to mix and match with various colours, styles and yes, metals. This approach is truly the best way to create a highly personal and far more enjoyable experience for your guests.
Image courtesy of Food52.
3. Fussy Flowers are Unnecessary
Some of the most elegant dinner parties we’ve attended actually didn’t involve a professional florist at all. In most cases the host or hostess has taken a stroll in their garden or to the flower market and played with what’s in season. Flowers are always an option but flowering branches can be wonderful too for drama and an architectural look. When arranging your florals, keep dinner-table conversation in mind. You don’t want overly tall arrangements. Rather, bunches of several lower arrangements in varying heights amongst your candles is best.
Photo courtesy of Once Milano.
4. Candles are Non-Negotiable
We know you’ve heard us pontificate about lighting before… but we’ll say it again. PLEASE dim your LEDs when entertaining! Better yet, turn them off all together and layer your lighting. Pendants or a chandelier above your dinner table can be accompanied by the glow of several candles. Though dinner parties have indeed evolved, we still hold on to some traditions… candles are one that we are not willing to negotiate!
Photo courtesy of Getty images.
5. Don’t Strive for Perfection
This fifth suggestion is really more of a summary or the underlying thesis, if you will. When preparing for your summer soirée, though one ought to plan and prepare, there is no need to overcomplicate things. Instead of striving for elaborate perfection, embrace simplicity and the beauty in certain “flaws.” The idea of heavily starched, white, table linens and polished cutlery being the mark of a luxurious meal is archaic and ridiculous when entertaining at home. If your table linens are actually made of linen, don’t iron them! Embrace their wrinkly, imperfect nature. Napkins need not be the exact same hue as your table cloth, a complementary colour is preferable. Arrange flowers cut from your garden simply in beautiful vases amongst candles and set the cutlery in a way that is visually appealing but approachable. Embrace the less is more mantra, pair things back, and let the food and your company shine!