We spend so much time and effort preparing the meal, we forget all about the importance of the table. At the last minute, we scatter to find the placemats, napkins, glasses and table accessories before sitting down to a well-cooked meal. Many of us spend all the time on the presentation and totally forget about the meal burning in the kitchen. This was my flaw for many years. Over the years, I have come to learn the balance for both good food preparation and serving in style. I call this "table art".
When inviting guests, it is always best to ask about any food restrictions. For example, you do not want to serve fish if one of your guests is allergic to it. This simple question serves two purposes. One, you care enough to take the time and learn about your guests and two, it you will avoid any embarrassment during your meal. One never wants a dinner guest to go home hungry.
Paying close attention to details such as folding a napkin makes a huge difference to any table setting. No mater what your price point, creating table art is affordable for all. I personally love to experiment mixing and matching new and old pieces together. Whether it be a tag sale find or grandmother's bone china, whether expensive or not, there is no end to the possibilities for creating a dramatic table setting for all to appreciate and enjoy.
Start with flowers:
No dinner party would be complete without that special centerpiece. This is simple enough to do. Rather than going to the local florist for this, discover the opportunities in your own back yard. Guests will comment on this and you can be proud to say, "It came from my garden".
Choose your dinnerware:
Pick the pieces that you will be using prior to your guests arriving. If you like, you can set the table the night before. This will guarantee one less thing to do the day of and allow you more time to spend with your guests.
The napkin details:
A cloth napkin is nothing but a cloth napkin until I get my hands on it. I have spent hours experimenting with napkins and have come up with several tricks to the trade. One of my favorite ways of displaying napkins is to fold into a square, and then folding over the top layer to a triangle. Then, I fold the napkin into three parts. I place flowers, silverware or any festive holiday surprise inside the fold for my guests to keep and remember.
Having appropriate music for any dinner can make or break the meal. Music should complement the meal adding a soothing background sensation. Never overpower or expose your guests to music that may be inappropriate. Having a guest tell you the music is too loud or "do you mind changing that" will take away from the pleasant experience. Soft easy listening music always wins hands down.
Coffee tea or me:
No matter how many dinners I go too, I am always shocked at how many people don't offer coffee. It is wonderful after a fabulous meal to have someone offer you coffee or tea. Always have herbal teas and other varieties such as Earl Grey regular and decaffeinated as well as regular and decaffeinated gourmet coffee for those who ask. Stick with unflavored coffees. Always be prepared for this final detail. If you offer and your guests decline, then you're off the hook. However if you offer and they accept, do it in style.
So remember, taking time to set your table is just as important as the meal you're serving. A beautiful table setting will compliment any meal and perhaps even make it more delicious!
And there you have it.