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Terrific Tablescapes

A beautiful table for the holidays can help set the mood.

Whatever the season, you can use these ideas and tips to set a spectacular table for your family and guests throughout the year.


Color is the most important tool you have. More than any other element, it sets the mood. Use it to your advantage, with the real drama coming from contrasting hues and shades.

Place cards

Place cards can make your guests feel special, and provide a design element that carries through. Use tags, labels, a single bloom, miniature plant or even a special gift for each guest.

Napkin rings

Napkin rings began in Victorian times as utilitarian items meant to identify the user so the linen didn’t have to be laundered after every meal. Each family member had his own design most often in silver plate. As a decorative touch, linen napkins can be tied with anything from raffia strands to fresh foliage to ribbon or paper.

Placemats and coasters

Placemats and coasters can accentuate your theme and color scheme. Do mix materials—ceramic, wood, glass, tin, stone—and put them over different textures, such as lacquer, cloth and woven matting. Natural objects such as stones, shells, leaves, and twigs can add a warm, organic feel.


Textiles lend themselves to creativity. Although the traditional placement of a napkin is on the left of the setting, an intricately folded napkin can be placed in the center of a plate or charger. Dating back to the mid-19th century French banquets, napkin folding turned into an origami-like art form.


Silverware of just about any style can be utilized. The size of the place setting has evolved over time, but utensils are always arranged from first to last use, going from outside in. An artful presentation of flatware is a useful way to add to your table décor without investing in expensive silverware sets.


Glassware adds a sparkling touch to any table setting. Collect whatever tickles your fancy and mix and match. Clear glasses of every style, bottles, pitchers, and decanters lend a versatile element to any table. Float blossoms or orange slices in shallow bowls, capture plants under glass cloches or line up clear cylinders filled with small objects.


Light can provide a dazzling element. It is the quickest way to add mood to your occasion. Choose from a myriad of candle types: votives, tea lights, tapers and pillars. Battery and LED lights are good options for the safety minded. Candles can be surrounded in containers with other decorative elements such as flower petals, pebbles, sand or even coarse rock salt.


Flowers can be an inexpensive way to spice up your table. Use buds, blooms, branches, berries, fruits, foliage and vegetables. They can serve the dual purpose of being a thoughtful take-away gift for guests.


Centerpieces add a focal point, usually low in height for your guests to see over. Tall arrangements work on the table as long as they are high enough for guests to see through them to talk to one another. Don’t under estimate the power of small vases. Repeating a design through multiples adds impact.


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