An African Flare Table Setting

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After a few months of hosting some less formal events, our most recent dinner party duties gave me the urge to set a more purposeful table. You know I love whimsy, as witnessed in the Brunch Table Setting, but I wanted more structure and a tad more elegance this go around. As I rummaged through my tablecloths and napkins to see what I could find I unearthed just the right ones. A few years ago while traveling in Italy, I purchased a tablecloth from one of the street vendors who brings textiles from Africa. I fell in love immediately with the bold yet earthy tones against the striking graphic print. Perfect choice to grace my table.

To continue on the African theme, I pulled out large hand carved wooden napkins rings that I purchased decades before. Back then, my tablecloth collection didn’t support such a purchase but I knew these would serve me well in the future. (If I only invested my money as well as I invest in “stuff futures”.) These unique napkin rings are among the most prized items I have collected over the years. I love using them because they make an undeniable statement. Who knew that this eclectic acquisition I procured so long ago at a Saks Fifth Avenue sale would be the star of so many table settings.

The face feels so peaceful to me.

The face feels so peaceful to me.

Pulling out the elements to this African Flare table setting. I opted not to use the orange napkins. I wanted to tablecloth to stand out and go with a more neutral napkin.

Pulling out the elements to this African Flare table setting. I opted not to use the orange napkins. I wanted to tablecloth to stand out and go with a more neutral napkin.

It’s evident that the tablecloth has a lot going on, so the flowers needed to be bright, a single color, and single variety. In this case, the simpler the better for the florals. I still wanted them to make a statement but decided not to create a single centerpiece. Another way to create impact is with multiples of the same. I chose all glasses vases to keep it as clean and understated as possible. I didn’t want the vases to be the attraction. I chose varying heights and sizes for visual interest and then just filled them up with white roses.

The purity of white roses is undeniable. Their elegance imparts immediate sophistication.

The purity of white roses is undeniable. Their elegance imparts immediate sophistication.

A statement, indeed.

A statement, indeed.

As I mentioned, the tablecloth print had plenty going on. Now, you also know I’m a big fan of using some sort of runner to focus the eye. So no shocker that I found a large linen remnant in my stock and fold it down the center of the table. I felt it broke up some the pattern and gave the eye a place to pause as well as provided an ideal location for all the flowers and candles. My deeper plot was convincing JuanCarlos that those items would remain at the center of the table during dinner and that we would plate the food instead of family style. For once I wanted my table design to remain in tact while dining. The hostess has to have it her way, at least once in a while.

The runner has golden tones to it that will work well with the gold notes on the plates and chargers.

The runner has golden tones to it that will work well with the gold notes on the plates and chargers.

Without even realizing it, I noticed that the candle sticks also fall in step with an Africa vibe.

Without even realizing it, I noticed that the candle sticks also fall in step with an Africa vibe.

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I love using chargers when I set a formal table. It adds a touch of special while grounding the place setting, especially if you are not using a placemat. Sometimes, I use both but there was already plenty going on on this table. The warm tones of the cloth begged for a few gold accents which the plates offered, plus added the sparkle I was looking for.

Besides the African Flare motif, it dawned on me that there was a secondary, underlying theme in the works. That of culling together disparate items collected over decades from various locations. So into the basement I went to dust off the mustard yellow water goblets I snagged at a vintage shop years ago. The tones worked perfectly with the color scheme and nestled up nicely against the white and red wine glasses.

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And there you have it. A more formal table setting with Africa Flare with finds from all over the place that didn’t feel too precious but still gave a sense of elegance. And although this may not be a traditional Easter table, I don’t see why this idea couldn’t grace your table for the upcoming holiday.

Since I pulled together pieces not only from different stores, but from different countries and different decades, I realize that you might not have these pieces in your arsenal. How many of you collect tablecloths, material swags, napkin rings and vintage glasses for decades? (Or maybe you do and were looking for a way to bring them altogether! Someone after my own heart.) But if not, I wanted to provide some help. I did a little bit of research in case you wanted to achieve a similar look. Below are a few links to help you achieve the same look.

African Theme Textiles/Accessories

Swahili African Modern

Tablecloths

Swahili African Modern

Etsy

Amazon

Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

Table Runners

Etsy

Etsy

World Market

World Market

Napkins Rings

Etsy

Etsy

Overstock

World Market

Williams Sonoma

Williams Sonoma

Napkins

World Market

Urban Outfitters

Placemats

World Market

Williams Sonoma

I hope you found some of these links helpful in sparking ideas how on to mix and match, use blankets for tablecloths or just plain combine an interesting layering of cloths to create an African Flare table setting.

 

How To Set a Brunch Buffet Table & Napkin Pockets

Organization is my thing. I love being prepared, having everything ready to go, having lists and knowing what needs to get done. There’s is nothing more satisfying than checking items off the list and a sense of reaching the finish line. It’s actually a big joke ‘round these parts - “Dana, what’s next on the list?” Laugh all you want, I can take it, but rest assured I will never leave something undone or left at the back of the refrigerator… unless I choose. So, no shocker that pre-thinking the table and platters is part of my to do list. Having a plan of attack makes any job easier. And it’s no different when entertaining. All the same rules apply.

Of course, you’ve read previous posts spouting the importance of pre-pro (that’s short in the TV world for pre-production) in the food prep area, or in culinary terms mise en place. Certainly having all your food prepped is vital but it’s equally important for setting up the final table, all the platters and serving utensils. Decades ago when I entertained, I had one set of dishes and very few serving items. So it was a tad simpler. Now that I have more of everything, I have more options which can be overwhelming. But even if you only have a few items from which to choose, you still need to make those work for you in the best ways possible. That’s why envisioning the entire event can actually shave time and energy in the long run. Ask yourself, what should the table look like and what platters or bowls should be used to make the day of party flow easier? Putting some thought to this prior to is one less task that needs to get done right before guests arrive.

I thought I would share with you a carefree table setting, the platter choices and arrangement that I did for a recent brunch. As a matter of fact, that gathering was originally slated for a Saturday evening but we needed to reschedule. Our new date landed us on a Sunday midday; perfect for brunch.

The Table
No formal table setting for this brunch. Nor a fully covered table. It’s well documented that I love putting a table cloth down, but for this sunny, brunch buffet that felt too stuffy. Whimsy was my main goal. So, I used a small square light blue tablecloth and placed it with the end points on the center of the table, leaving the ends of the table exposed.

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Then for movement and visual interest, I tossed a swath of white sheer material down the length of the table. Thus creating the exact vibe I intended. Both haphazard yet purposeful, it softened the whole table. It actually drew the eye to center of the table. Now I had a landing strip for the food platters.

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Florals
With the variety of food I had planned, I knew there would be a lot of platters occupying space, so I opted for a very simple and small floral arrangement. Using only filler florals that I found at Trader Joe’s, I arranged the three different florals in a color blocking, circular manner to create a bright, burst of life. Total of $9. I placed in the center, and knew that the colors would be the inspiration for for the platter choices.

Bold, bright, contrasting and complimentary colors.

Bold, bright, contrasting and complimentary colors.

Napkins/Utensils/Dishes
There are so many ways to go when arranging napkins and utensils. For more ideas, check out my post Napkin Folding - 5 Basic Folds - Countless Options. Originally I was going to use a simple roll up technique but after letting my mind float about what would make sense for the event I came up with something very different. Since this was going to be a small gathering, just 6 in total, I still wanted the silverware/napkin set up to be an easy grab. Here’s the thinking…

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I grabbed simple rustic, cotton cloth for napkins for an relaxed Sunday vibe. In my drawer of tricks I found 6 lengths of ties, 3 different colors that all coordinated and played nicely with the overall color theme. Can you identify what these ‘strings’ are from?

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If you guessed the handles from clothing shopping bags you would have been correct. 3 different bags, 2 ties each of harmonious colors. For all those who say, don’t save stuff, I say BooHoo to that. These were perfect in every way. There is an art to seeing the usefulness of an item that you would normally toss away.

I decided to create napkin pockets by stacking a knife, fork and spoon together. The equivalent to a 3 way spooning situation. Then I placed them in the center of the folded napkin and gathered up the material around it like a flower petal.

Using the string, I tied them together about 3/4 ways up to create a flower like pocket.

Next… how to corral them. I remembered I still had a basket with leftover pinecones in it. Perfect for an organic feel.

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I kept the pinecones stacked on one side and lined the napkin ‘florals’ in the basket placing it next to a stack of white dinner plates for a grab and go station.

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Serving Platters
This is really where the menu plan meets the serving plan. Think about your menu. Think of the amounts of each item you plan to serve, then pull some platters and see what works and looks good together. Once I have a good sense, I then place them in the position on the table to review the flow.

Wanting to bring color and pizzaz to the table, I pulled out my most colorful, playful platters. The round fish plate would be for salmon burgers, the blue fish bowl for the relish, the long rectangular for the mini buns and purple cake stand for the traditional Spanish tortilla.

Wanting to bring color and pizzaz to the table, I pulled out my most colorful, playful platters. The round fish plate would be for salmon burgers, the blue fish bowl for the relish, the long rectangular for the mini buns and purple cake stand for the traditional Spanish tortilla.

Create Stations
I like culling food items that go together in a ‘station’. This is accomplished simply by huddling them on a board, tray or platter and use smaller bowls within. Given that I had a few offerings for the guests to create their own yogurt parfait, a yogurt ‘station’ was a must. I chose a small wooden board for a rustic feel, then to invite color and whimsy, I chose two different bowls in the similar color scheme. One for yogurt and one for granola. Instead of cereal bowls, I stacked glass, stemless martini glasses for yogurt parfaits. Toss some fruit around and you now have a Yogurt/Granola Station.

Whole Table
Place all the platters, boards around the table to make sure there is good flow and visual interest. Move them around until it feels right to you. I kept most of the platters toward the center leaving room if our guests wanted to sit at the table to eat. We all opted to pile our plates and eat by the fireplace in the living room.

Sure it’s lots of color, and different styles but the blues and hues unite them.

Sure it’s lots of color, and different styles but the blues and hues unite them.

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The end result should be an inviting burst of tantalizing offerings that entice your guests to continue wandering around the table to pick and nibble away.

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Bruce and Maryann eyeing the offerings and creating a sumptuous plate of good bites.

Bruce and Maryann eyeing the offerings and creating a sumptuous plate of good bites.

Our guests did just that. Hopefully, this inspired you to create your own buffet table scape. I guarantee that having all the platters and the table pre-set will be a blessing not a chore.

Side note: I didn’t mention beverage station, but we always have one. If you look over MaryAnne’s right shoulder in the photo above you get a glimpse of the sparkle of glassware. We have a credenza that we use to house all the glassware and beverages as a self serve station. If you don’t have a credenza, add a small folding table, or carve out some space on your main buffet table. The idea is to have all the beverage items together to make it easy for your guests to serve themselves.

It’s springtime folks, Brunch is served!

 
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Napkin Folding - 5 Basic Folds - Countless Options

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I asked. You answered. Now the ball is back in my court to deliver.

Some of you have requested simple, yet elegant ways to fold a napkin.   Sure, you can just plop a napkin down next to the plate. Why not, what's all the fuss, right?  Guests are just going to place them on their laps anyway.  But I will ask you this one question, and then see how you feel about just plopping that napkin down.

When you enter the home of a host/hostess and see a table set with place settings and napkins lovingly positioned, how do you feel? 

1. Oh Ah, what a beautiful, welcoming setting. I feel special.

2. Oh yeah, that's where we're going to eat

If  you answered #1, keep reading.  If you answered #2 grab some other reading material and forget about scrolling through the rest of this post. I promise next week will bring something of more interest for you.

Setting a table can be as easy or as complicated as you want. The same goes with the finishing touches such as  folding a napkin.  I choose the simple method, but still try to make an impact.  Some of the styles below are quite basic with a twist. They are geared a bit more towards the festive side for the holidays, yet any of them can be used or modified for any occasion.  

The idea here is not to twist yourself up as you fold napkins.  Sure those fancy, schmancy, origami style versions look impressive.  But let's face it, those take a ton of effort and time only to have sadness kick in when your guests pull apart your time consuming creation and place them on their laps.  I'm all for making the table look pretty.  You guys know that about me by now. But I am also practical.  Employing simple techniques for maximum impact.  Whether it's preparing a dish, plating it or folding a napkin.

I pulled out a few items to play with for this episode of how to fold a napkin... Fast but pretty.

I pulled out a few items to play with for this episode of how to fold a napkin... Fast but pretty.

Let the folding, or rolling begin. The best part about these suggestions is that you don't need the exact napkin or ribbon or decor that I show in these examples.  These are guides and intended to motivate you to look around your house to see what you can use.  Any of the ideas shown can be easily refashioned to incorporate what you already have.  In fact, all the ribbons I use are from packages I received, or remnants lingering around just waiting to be given the chance at another useful life.  I also cut the ribbon handles off of nice shopping bags.  These are usually good quality and the perfect size.  Give a good think about what you have readily available.  Need more hints. How about using twigs or acorns, cinnamon sticks or nutmeg rounds. A feather, a flower, chives. 

Although most of these are for individual place settings, I've shown two napkin options for use on a buffet or cocktail setting.

The Simple roll

This method is a no brainer.  The art comes in how to finish it with a little extra flare.

  • Fold the napkin in half and in half again.

  • From the open edge side of the napkin, begin rolling towards the folded edge of the napkin. This helps to create a cleaner finish.

  • Tie a 3/8" ribbon around the mid section and finish with an adornment.

Once you have rolled the napkin up, tie a ribbon, knot it, place an ornament down and tie a bow. Place in the middle of the plate.

Once you have rolled the napkin up, tie a ribbon, knot it, place an ornament down and tie a bow. Place in the middle of the plate.

3/8" ribbon + ornament

3/8" ribbon + ornament

Note the folded edge on the left side is where you want to roll to.

Note the folded edge on the left side is where you want to roll to.

The Simple roll - Candy Caned

Using the same simple roll technique, wrap the roll with a wider ribbon to create a candy cane or striped effect.

  • Tuck one end of the ribbon under the bottom right side of the napkin

  • At an angle begin to wind it around leaving equal amounts in between.

  • Tuck the edge under.

Chic, simplicity

Chic, simplicity

Roll the napkin

Roll the napkin

Using 1/2 grosgrain ribbon, tuck on end under the napkin and wind it around leaving equal amounts in between. Tuck the edge under.

Using 1/2 grosgrain ribbon, tuck on end under the napkin and wind it around leaving equal amounts in between. Tuck the edge under.

The simple roll - Crisscross

Can this simple roll be more versatile?  Duh, of course, it can.  If you don't want to spiral the ribbon around, why not create a straightforward crisscross effect.

  • Place the ribbon midway under the napkin, then crisscross in front placing the ends across the plate.

Modern, simple and elegant.

Modern, simple and elegant.

The buffet Roll

Using the roll technique, find a vase or bucket or even a wide bowl that coordinates with your table theme.  Then place all the rolled napkins in an orderly fashion. Place your napkin bucket near the flatware and dishes on your buffet table for easy access for your guests.  

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I didn't have enough black napkins so I used a cream/green one to coordinate. The way to make it look planned is to concentrate the colors. I choose to use the darker color for the circular perimeter with the light colored center. It feels like a flower.

I didn't have enough black napkins so I used a cream/green one to coordinate. The way to make it look planned is to concentrate the colors. I choose to use the darker color for the circular perimeter with the light colored center. It feels like a flower.

 

The Simple fold

I know you are saying, "What the heck? This is a napkin folded over in a rectangle.  Is she serious?"  Yes, I am.  This is a straightforward approach but by turning the napkin horizontally it feels slightly different.  Don't worry, keep scrolling. There are more plays off this easy technique.  

Is there anything easier than folding a napkin and placing it in the middle of the plate. I think not. But we can pump it up. Read on...

Is there anything easier than folding a napkin and placing it in the middle of the plate. I think not. But we can pump it up. Read on...

The Simple Fold Doubled Wrapped

You see.  The rectangle fold slightly jazzed up. (Fun tip: The sage green, crinkle organza ribbon is from our wedding.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I saved the ribbon from our wedding 16 years ago, and just like our marriage, it's still going strong!)  

  • Using a wide ribbon, starting on an angle tuck one end under the bottom left hand side.

  • Wrap the ribbon around twice, slightly overlapping in the middle so there is no gap.

  • Leave enough ribbon for the tail to poke out on the bottom right hand side. You may need to adjust as you go.

The simple rectangle napkin has a more powerful impact with a doubled ribbon wrap tail peeking out.

The simple rectangle napkin has a more powerful impact with a doubled ribbon wrap tail peeking out.

Fold napkin in half, then half again, than half yet again.

Fold napkin in half, then half again, than half yet again.

The wide ribbon is what makes this angled wrap have more presence.

The wide ribbon is what makes this angled wrap have more presence.

The Simple Fold & Half Knot

Same rectangular fold, same ribbon but with a bit more sass.  

  • Place the wide ribbon under the napkin in the center with the top portion of ribbon being slightly longer than the bottom.

  • Bring the the top portion of the ribbon to lay down over the napkin.

  • Take the bottom ribbon and cross over front.

  • Then tuck that piece under and flare the tail out to the right.

Once you pull the short side through to the right, make both tails lie flatly down.

Once you pull the short side through to the right, make both tails lie flatly down.

The top portion of the ribbon rests across the middle of the napkin while the bottom/under portion gets crossed over front.

The top portion of the ribbon rests across the middle of the napkin while the bottom/under portion gets crossed over front.

Tuck the ribbon under the midsection and pull to a loose knot.

Tuck the ribbon under the midsection and pull to a loose knot.

The triangle

Yes, this is another no brainer fold, but one that also has versatility.  

  • Fold the napkin in half and half again

  • If you have a nice finished edge like the one shown below, fold the point down only to the trimmed edge. (You can also use this approach even if you don't have a fancy edge. It will actually make your triangle fold a bit more special.

  • You can also just fold it point to point.

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Simple Triangle & Ornament tuck

Tuck an adornment under one side.  Use a cinnamon stick, or a flower stem or this stem of pearl like buds.

 

The Triangle Tower - Buffet Style   

Using the same triangle technique but folding edge to edge, you can then stack them to create a uniformed row for a buffet table

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The fold & hold

Easy fold in half fashion and tying in the middle.

  • Lay the napkin right side down and fold each edge into the middle

  • Flip the napkin over placing a ribbon midway. Add an adornment

  • Tie one knot to secure and place onto the plate

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The Drape

The more elegant dropping of a napkin. 

  • Fold the napkin in half

  • Grab the middle folded edge and let the napkin naturally drape

  • Place the napkin on the plate. It will create pretty folds

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Fold the napkin in half and grab the folded edge.

Fold the napkin in half and grab the folded edge.

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The Tied Drape

Just add a ribbon tied 1/3 the way down from the top

As I mentioned, none of these are ground breaking.  They are simple techniques with a little extra pizzaz, which is what I believed you asked for.  I hope I sparked your creative spirit using the napkins and odds/ends pieces in your home to create a festive, happy landing place for your guests.  

 

Burst of Burnt Orange - A Fall Tablescape

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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.  

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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.

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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.   

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.  

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Orange Napkins - 2 Outdoor Tables - A Warm Summer Glow

For those of us who suffer through cold, snowy winters, the wait for warm summer nights is as anticipated as Santa and his gifts.  It's the time of year when grilling and gathering are top of mind.  Entertaining outdoors can be as easy as grab a plate and line up at the BBQ. Or it can be as elaborate as a formal sit down dinner, and every notch in between.  As we wind down the summer and head into cooler days and crisp nights, enjoying early evening dinners is still a joy.  

After all the growth of the summer, flowers are still in full bloom. Our yard is like a fairy tale garden.

The view of part of our yard as our guests dine on our patio.

The view of part of our yard as our guests dine on our patio.

The view from the other side of the patio.

The view from the other side of the patio.

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With the yard so magical, I'm less inclined to just throw down some plates on the table, and more likely to toss even the most casual tablecloth down. Usually our outdoor events are daytime, but this time of year the weather is ideal for evening entertaining. Setting the mood doesn't require a great deal of effort.  I promise.

Keep in mind that you have to place out the plates, napkins, cutlery and glasses anyway. Tossing a tablecloth underneath, adding some candles and flowers takes but a few minutes more, and creates an entirely different scene.

The key to an evening setting is to create a warm glow.  

Lanterns and candles always up the ante and provide that glow that somehow makes it special.

 

 

When it comes to the flowers keep it simple.  Use what you've got.  I like going around our garden and snipping what's in bloom. 

Our giving tree.

Our giving tree.

These were from our enormous hydrangea tree.  The voluminous flower bursts are originally white when in their prime bloom but late in the season turn sage green and dusty rose. They are perfect additions, building on to that warm glow. Without any fuss, simply cut down to size to fit into a few small vintage vases.  A simple touch of botanicals that mimic the movement on the tablecloth adding to the romantic feel.   Brighter orange napkins turned up the color factor while the green vintage glasses keep the style in a whimsical feel.  

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And since the weather is still glorious this time of year, there are those occasions when daytime events stretch lovingly into the evening.  For this day to night table setting, keep it festive for the day by adding a fun, colorful runner over a darker neutral.  Then add those same orange napkins for the color pop.  The florals for this setting mimic the boldness of the napkins and keep the eye from having too much to focus on. 

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The most lively color rose picking up the bold strip in the playfully colored runner.

The most lively color rose picking up the bold strip in the playfully colored runner.

(When trying to coordinate color for your table, here's a helpful tip for casual entertaining moments.  Don't make yourself crazy searching for the perfect color combo.  Work backwards by choosing from the flowers that are readily available and then figure out what linens pair well.  You can always use monochromatic or white linens and allow the flowers to make the color statement.  I came to this conclusion after being disappointed when I had the linens all planned out then went to my florist looking for a specific flower or color, only to come up short.) 

Family style serving goes a long way. Grilled steaks, rice, 3 bean salad, heirloom tomatoes and big salad bowl.

Family style serving goes a long way. Grilled steaks, rice, 3 bean salad, heirloom tomatoes and big salad bowl.

Pink grapefruit cake. This was a  Better Homes & Garden recipe  that I tried. I decided to cut my layers thinner to stack them up higher.

Pink grapefruit cake. This was a Better Homes & Garden recipe that I tried. I decided to cut my layers thinner to stack them up higher.

Light up the candles.

Turn on the warmth.

Slice the cake.  

Transform a bold daytime setting into an evening full of candlelit glow.  

Then cheer to good friends and family.

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Enjoy the rest of the summer, and may you find time to find beauty wherever you may be.

 
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