In the old days, when social etiquette was more prescribed, I can remember my mother having three dinner parties in three days, thereby “paying back” all the social obligations that had accumulated that season. I think her reasoning was to amortize the flower arrangements and polish all the silver just once. Nowadays, my table arrangements are as likely to feature something from my backyard, my coffee table and/or affordable flowers from the grocery store.
People are happy to be invited into my home and I love to create tablescapes from what’s on hand. Easy for me because I always have something blooming or green and I am known to hoard candles of all shapes and sizes, but even if you haven’t been collecting candle holders for decades and you live in the Tundra, a sprig of sage leaves or a stick of cinnamon will differentiate a table setting.
To illustrate the point; Five of the same basic tabletop items (grey napkins, silver chargers, white dinner plates, simple silverware and stem wineglasses) is the basis for three really different table vibes: Casual, Elegant and Bohemian.
Rattan mats or a vintage quilt or a simple white runner really alter the mood of the table. Chairs placed close together signal a casual tete a tete, where chairs placed more comfortably apart send a Downton Abbey signal to sit up straight and use the right fork first.
Something as basic as how you tie or don’t tie a napkin or place your forks and knives can make a whole new dinner party jam. Note to Mom: as much as I love to entertain, I can’t imagine all that conviviality more than once a week. How did you stand in your high heels for three nights in a row?