Burst of Burnt Orange - A Fall Tablescape


Tick Tock. It's that time of year when everyone's talking turkey. Thanksgiving is breathing down the proverbial bird's neck with thoughts of food prep, guest list and table decor.  Some of us are hosts, some guests. No matter how you carve it; pressure, planning and panic can set it. 

Which is why last year we opted for a different kind of celebrating.  Because I worked, we didn't host Thanksgiving dinner as we have done for a decade.  Instead, we decided to do the next best thing; a Post Thanksgiving cocktail/tapas party.   Which meant we had a wider range of food options to play with; ditching some of the usual carb heavy holiday food.  Food aside, I still needed to create an inviting tablescape.  The theme was buffet style eats with a variety of options for the meat lovers, fish lovers, vegetarians.  I really wanted to have a wide selection that worked well together.  And I wanted to present all these plates on a table that would pay homage to the Fall colors outside our windows.  


It started with a tablecloth I purchased in Italy the previous year and grew from there.  As I have mentioned in the past, I collect tablecloths, linens and material pieces, then mix and match them with others. I am a big fan of swags of sheer material or muslin to add texture and volume to a table.  In this episode of how to dress a table, I chose burnt oranges and yellow, as a perfection complement to nature.

So let's say your tablecloth is ever so slightly too short for your table, as was mine.  Some may see this as a problem. I prefer to use the word challenge.  And this challenge was easily remedied by embracing the layered look.  I used the yellow sheer material as the base, placed the tablecloth atop and then draped the orange sheer down the middle.  This approach made it look like an intentional layer when it fact it was resolving a length dilemma. Solution provided. Challenge solved.

Warm yellow chiffon sheer for the base

Warm yellow chiffon sheer for the base

Tablecloth stretching full length of the table with an orange organza swath.

Tablecloth stretching full length of the table with an orange organza swath.

Then come napkins and plates. Since this wasn't going to be a sit down dinner, I chose a variety of small plates and bowls that suited the menu.  Flatware was held in a florist vase and a vintage wooden bucket housed rolled up coordinating napkins.  Guests can pick and go.


I would like to pause to reiterate a purchasing and collecting style of mine. Very rarely do I buy ensemble sets or like items. My style is to pick up pieces that I love along my travels. All the items used in this tablescape were purchased years apart, at a variety of different shops, and in some cases different countries. The key is finding color schemes and palates that you like and that mix and match.  With this method, anything goes.   


For the centerpiece, two goals were set. Create a piece with a nod to Thanksgiving, and one that wouldn't take up too much room.  The fortunate fact about hosting after a holiday is that prices on certain items go down.  For instance, I purchased all those colorful, interesting gourds for $3. Yes, you read that correctly; $3 for all of them.  I then bought some simple mums, my favorite 'go to' inexpensive flower.  I cut them down to the buds, and placed them in shallow sake bowls. Everything in our home can serve multiple purposes.


I nestled a few of the flower bowls within the main centerpiece, adding fresh pears to fill it out. The rest were placed around the table.  The gorgeous, large wooden leaf tray is an heirloom of sorts.  My parents purchased it in Mexico while on their honeymoon, many a moon ago, and gave it to me.  I ADORE that bowl tray. A true statement piece bought at the bud of their love.  


Add some candles, the food platters and the table is ready for guests. 

The menu was all about small bites that guests could sample and go back for more.  All prepped a day a head of time.  

The Menu
Meaty Ragu with crusty bread & fried spaghetti wedges
Charcuterie & Cheese Platter
Escarole Rolls
Balsamic Bathed Carrots Wrapped in Zucchini
Warm Octopus & Potato over frissee salad
Salmon Bites with Yogurt Relish
Asparagus with Goat and Shallot  Sherry viniagrette
Smoked Salmon with Picked Fennel

Maybe this year you'll give up hosting the actual holiday and burst out with foods you love served on a burnt orange tablescape.


Whatever type of party you decide to throw, make a plan that suits the time you have.  The idea is a stress free holiday season.