Leslie Carpenter, The Lily Sage

The holidays are coming, and so are dinner parties. With loved ones surrounding it, your table will be the star of the event. Make sure to set the right tone by creating a beautiful tablescape.

The first thing I do when creating a tablescape is decide on my centerpiece. It is your anchor. Once you do that, you will have a theme, level of formality and color palette. You can use anything for a centerpiece from a floral arrangement to a glass bowl full of Christmas ornaments. On rectangular tables, I like to let my centerpiece spread down the center with garlands and votive candles nestled throughout.

Tip: If you’re short on time, use pre-made floral bouquets from a local store. They have done the work of piecing the most appealing flowers together. 

While we’re on the topic of centerpieces, let’s talk height. A common mistake is a centerpiece that sets at eye level. You want to visit with your loved ones, not peer around a centerpiece, no matter how beautiful. Make sure you’re easily able to see over them. However, don’t be afraid to add varying levels of height to add interest to your table. The centerpiece is one of the easiest ways to do that. Try flanking your floral arrangement with thick candle stands, which will add another level of height. Sprinkle faux leaves, pine branches, or anything else that goes with your theme, to fill in the empty space between them.

Tip: Use electric candles so the wax doesn’t ruin the décor below. 

Next comes layering. Layering is a great tool to add different textures and sophistication to your table. Try layering a tablecloth, a runner or garland and then add the centerpiece, which you can also layer. If you have a square or circular table, try stacking a small wreath with a hurricane vase in the center. If you layer your centerpiece, keep the rest of the layering to a minimum in the center of the table. You don’t want your table to look cluttered. You can also layer place settings. Start with a charger, then dinner plate, napkin and salad plate. Top it with a salad bowl, place card or a favor for guests to take home.

Tip: Use 12×12 scrapbook paper as placemats/chargers to match your theme to keep it budget-friendly. 

Place cards are the finishing touch. I love place cards because they let you customize. This is where your imagination can run wild. You can use painted leaves, pine cones or mini pumpkins, for example. There are also many free printables online.

Tip: Have your favors (like a customized cookie) do double-duty and also serve as place cards. 

Have fun preparing your table, but, always remember, it’s the ones surrounding the table that make it most beautiful.

Photos taken at The Grove at The Copper Mill.