March 22, 2017

Creative Ways to Set a Spring Table

When I was a kid, I used to love setting the table before dinner. Instead of eating in our home's formal dining room, we normally ate around a plain wooden table in the middle of our kitchen. It wasn't fancy china or exquisite linens that I used to adorn our eating surface, but instead my mom's old woven placemats and pottery dishes, beige rimmed in baby blue.

Our meals weren't gourmet, but the act of gathering together was meaningful anyway. Memorable.

“If the home is a body, the table is the heart, the beating center, the sustainer of life and health.” 
― Shauna NiequistBread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes

I hardly ever get to set the table anymore. My husband and I sometimes eat in the den, on trays in our laps. When we do use our dining table, it's still just the two of us and we rarely put down placemats or light candles. But that's okay with me. Meals don't have to be fancy to matter. When you are gathered with those you love, this is what matters most.

Although, sometimes it's still fun to set a lovely table and spring is a great time for this. Whether you are hosting a large gathering of dear friends or just dining with one or two special someones, there's no reason you can't get creative and set a lovely spring table.

Here are some of my best tips for setting a spring table. I hope it inspires you to get creative and think outside the box at the next meal you host for friends and loved ones.

Creative ideas for setting a pretty spring table

1) Choose a color scheme and stick with it - 

Not everyone loves the typical springtime colors of bright yellow, pink and aquamarine. Perhaps you are drawn to more muted hues. For my latest lovely spring table, I opted to use shades of the Pantone 2017 color of the year "greenery." Green is my favorite color and there are so many shades of it to enjoy, from chartreuse to brighter acid-green shades to pale tones of moss, fern and olive. 

2) Shop your home before hitting the home decor store - 

Unless you're a complete minimalist, I bet you have lots of items around your home that can be re-purposed to create a lovely table setting. Just from where I'm sitting in my home, I see baskets and vases, pitches and glass containers, plus plenty of green plants. All of these things can be used to set a lovely table! 

You don't have to hit the home decor store or spend a penny to set a lovely table. Shop your home, including things you may have tucked away. 

3) Mix and match - 

Few of us have the luxury of owning entire sets of matching china, stemware and silver. If you're like me, you've collected odds and ends over the years. Clear off a space on a table or counter and gather up various plates, chargers, table linens, etc. Pretend you are a magazine editor and look for things that complement each other as you're building your table setting. 

And as Tim Gunn likes to say, "make it work!" So what if you only have three brown transferware plates. Mix them into the lineup with all white dishes for a little unexpected surprise. Got several different patterns of floral china? Unify them with gold or silver chargers. 

Something else I like to mix and match is cloth napkins. I have amassed a great collection of odd silk and linen napkins in different shades of green. These are perfect for a spring table, but can also work during the winter holidays too. 

4) Incorporate natural elements - 

I like to do everything on a budget, so I rarely spend a lot of money on floral arrangements. But a sprig of greenery can go a long way. I've been known to take my scissors and walk around the yard, snipping a few pretty pieces to use in my tablescapes. Even a so-called weed can sometimes look really pretty when presented in the right way. 

5) Leave room for the food - 

We've all seen the picture perfect tablescapes in magazines and on blogs. But I often wonder how realistic these are for actual meals. When setting your table, leave some space for the food. Make sure everything has a bit of breathing room. If people are too nervous to move for fear of elbowing a compote, this can cause undue stress. 

And finally, have fun with it! So what if things aren't perfect. Setting a table before sharing a meal you've prepared is a special expression of love for your family. Be grateful for the moment and don't take things too seriously if your end results aren't magazine worthy. This is real life after all.