Whether or not I’m hosting a party at a house, venue, or a restaurant, I always set the table with my decor and fresh flowers. It’s one of my creative outlets and a way to show my guests I’m honored they’re spending their time with me.
The biggest reward is not the formality, but the way people light up as they approach the table to see you have gone all out on their behalf. The table, like the meal, is an experience that is notable, respectable, and memorable.
The key elements to setting a beautiful table:
- A theme that ties everything together
- Fresh flowers (buy them days in advance so they have time to bloom)
- Napkin construction (folded, tied, slipped into a holder, flowered) Click here for my video on two different ways to fold a napkin.
If you can get those three things, you’ve gone above. To go beyond include what I call accessories: candles, place cards, snacks, distinctive glasses and/or stemware, chargers, gifts, etc.
Here I have examples of my last two events: Leven’s bridal shower brunch at 41 Ocean Club in Santa Monica and a corporate breakfast at The Cavalier in San Francisco. For both I used the restaurant’s plates, napkins, and silverware; everything else I brought in.
Leven’s theme was young, bohemian bride. As her big day was approaching, she was growing more feminine in her style so I used pink, pastels, and baby’s breath to create a soft and “precious” table. The center was kept clear so they could place down food for family style service.
As for the boho flair, I went with deconstructed flower arrangements and mismatched place settings. All of the girls brought recipes for Leven to make a healthy cookbook, so I used a colorful dishtowels to add depth to the table. These were also her party favors for the girls to take home.
In San Francisco, we took over the private dining space at The Cavalier to host a breakfast for 30. The theme of the restaurant was 1800’s English Equestrian and the company’s colors are black and red so I tied the two together in the setting.
Because the hosts were men and the food was served family style, I kept the flowers sparse and simple.
One last note about the flowers. To make a lot of arrangements on a budget, find a mart that sells them at a discount. If you’re shopping at the grocery store you’re going to end up spending a fortune! If you’re not one to put together an arrangement on your own, either stick to something simple and modern (a couple lilies or roses cut short in a small vase) or hire someone off of craigslist to help you.