When it comes to entertaining, I believe the ambience you create accounts for just as much as the food you serve!
A well styled table sets the scene and shows your guests how much you care – and it doesn’t take as much effort as you may think to create a beautiful table setting.
Here’s a quick and simple guide to getting it right every time!
Start with a theme
Whether it’s for a special occasion like Christmas or ‘just because’, having a theme in mind always helps create a cohesive table setting.
It’s fun to get creative and push the boundaries, especially for traditional occasions. You may be inspired to create a theme that fits with some pieces you already own or can easily access, or perhaps a new favourite colour.
I generally find I’m inspired by new season homewares and the look I created today was sparked by a visit to Freedom where they had a great range of faux flora on display. This led me to create a look inspired by the Australian bush with eucalyptus and rusted tones.
Create a base
Begin setting your table with a base. For an informal look, you may just like to use a table runner as I have, or for a more formal setting use a table cloth with the option of a table runner as well.
An inexpensive alternative to a table cloth, which also makes clean up a breeze, is to use wrapping paper instead. You could use brown craft paper for a natural setting or something patterned and colourful – whatever works with your theme.
Add place settings
Before thinking about centerpiece arrangements, I always advise to set the table first. This way, you’ll ensure there’s plenty of space for guests to sit comfortably and will help you see how much space you have for other styling.
Depending on the food you are serving, your place setting could be as simple as a small plate with a napkin on top. I’ve demonstrated a more formal look with a round woven placemat, dinner plate, salad plate and bowl on top.
You’ll notice that not all the tableware matches but it does all suit the theme – have fun and play with colours and textures to create an extra stylish table setting.
I love the textural element a napkin can add and there are so many different ways you can display these on the table. You could lay the napkin on the plate or in between the dinner plate and salad plate, underneath your cutlery to the side, or you could try a formal folding technique, or a more relaxed one as I have done.
Create your centerpiece arrangements
Once the places are set, you can begin creating your centerpiece arrangement. I like to add items at different heights, generally at least 3, to create a centerpiece that has flow and movement.
If you are creating a focal piece, such as the rustic vase with branches, it’s a good idea to ensure it can be easily moved once the food is served and to avoid blocking the eye line of guests once they are seated.
The branches in the vase are a mix of artificial branches from Freedom and several gum branches I foraged from my garden – using a combination of real and faux flora can help keep costs down while creating a more realistic look.
Ambient lighting and scents
For the lower levels of the centerpiece, I used a range of tea light holders from Freedom. Candles provide beautiful ambient light and help to create a special mood. Another lighting option could be to use string lights, and these look particularly great at Christmas time (stores such as Typo and Freedom generally sell these).
Another sense we often don’t pay enough attention to is our sense of smell. Using some real eucalyptus branches gives this table setting a more sensory experience. Other ways you can play to this sense is by using cinnamon sticks, scented candles or fresh flowers.
Depending on your occasion, sometimes the smallest details can create the biggest impact. For example, at Christmas, placing a cracker or wrapping the napkin with a personalised ornament is always popular.
Think of ways you could make your guests smile or take a small gift home with them.
Will you use this simple guide to a stylish table setting for your next special occasion? Or do you have more tips you could add? Share them in the comments below.
Photography by Thorson Photography