Tips to pull off a simple but elegant autumn table setting
Often I’m so busy with cooking I end up treating the table setting as an afterthought. But a beautifully dressed table can help set the mood and make your guests more at home in your space. It needn’t be hard, expensive, or time-consuming (though is a great excuse to get outside and get creative this time of year). Here are two helpful principles to keep in mind as you fancify your dinner gatherings this autumn.
Bring the beauty of outside in
The autumn is a breathtaking season. Even if you don’t bring a wabisabi sensibility to your aesthetic, it’s still desirable to take the the beauty of autumn into your home. Here are a few ideas on how to integrate natural elements into your table settings.
- While a talented florist is worth their weight, you don’t have to splurge on the $100-plus bouquet. Taking a peaceful walk through a neighboring park or the city streets to admire the changing seasons is time you won’t regret giving yourself. Involve the kids while gathering colorful fallen leaves, pinecones, twigs and greenery. These can all be used to create thoughtful centerpieces, placeholders and accents for your table.
- Of course if that time can’t be found when cooking up a storm, simply visit your local flower market, pick up a few stems of your favorite bloom, and decoratively scatter the petals across your table.
- Better and simpler still, make use of the harvest by using gourds, or fresh fruit (persimmons, pears and apples) as accents or centerpieces.
Reuse, repurpose, recycle
In charge of the holiday dinner this year but lacking place settings for twelve? No worries – matchy-matchy is so yesterday anyway.
- Floral arrangements: If you intend to use flowers on your table, bring out those prized collection of vases and vessels that barely get the use they deserve, rather than going for the standard issue florist – or worse – grocery store version. Many florists are happy to fill your vase, so don’t be shy about bringing them with you. Going for a dramatic centerpiece? Remember to use low-laying vases so guests maintain unobstructed sightlines across the table. Don’t have an appropriate vase? Don’t despair – mason jars, old teapots, and pretty pottery of all sorts can make beautiful vessels that add impact and visual interest to your table.
- If you’re DIY-ing the arrangements, think monochromatic, as multi-colored arrangements can be busy and distracting. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t usebright blooms – just shy away from incorporating the entire rainbow in the same bouquet. Less really is more.
- Serving pieces: Don’t be afraid to mix and match your dinnerware, using both new and antique pieces; personally I like my silver with a slight patina, so save yourself some time and don’t bother polishing. If you collect vintage dishes from summer yard sales, this can be just the occasion to break them all out.
- Candles: They can add dazzle or whimsy and really help pull the atmosphere together. You can opt to dust off your grandmother’s candle sticks, drop some tea lights in little jars of water or sand or decorate some votives to strike your perfect lighting mood.
- Place markers as favors: Tying a name tag to the stem of a piece of fruit or putting together a simple gift– likea little package of homebaked cookies or squares -will make guests feel especially welcome.
Remember: The food and company should stand out. Table settings are important to the evening’s overall tone but you should strive for‘unfussy sophistication’. If it’s stressing you out, it’s too much. That’s the most important principle to live by.