The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Let’s Talk Table Settings

Posted by in Holidays, Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Let's Talk Table Settings!

Let me start by saying this: Put me in a room and, in all likelihood, I will be the least crafty person in that room. And by crafty, I don’t mean slick or clever or sly, though that applies too. No, I mean Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, Katie Brown kind of crafty. My talent for finding innovative ways to use ordinary things does not extend beyond the usual MacGyver kind of application. Give me a handful of eucalyptus branches and I’m more likely to whittle them into arrowheads or door shims than arrange them in a pretty slender vase on a foyer table.

This week, I hope to bring together those like me with those of you who actually own slender vases and foyer tables. Although we’ll be talking about something that isn’t quite part of the meal, a well-presented table can still play a big role in bringing it all together. So our Kitchen Talk question this week is:

Do you have any tips to share for setting a beautiful table?

The holidays are coming up and I know we could all use some new ideas for making our beloved guests extra special even before the food emerges from kitchen and onto the dinner table.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Let's Talk Table Settings!

As mentioned earlier, I have close to zero talent for setting a nice table, so my tips will be very basic. I like using chargers because I think they frame the plate nicely, and they help save space around the table when used in lieu of placemats. I also think pretty cloth napkins with a simple napkin holder are always a nice touch, along with cute place cards.

Nanci likes to go out into the garden and trim some branches with bright red berries and dark green foliage, or whatever is in season. Then she pops them into a nice vase.

Betsy shares, “Our mom used to bring in leaves from our magnolia tree, and arrange them around pretty white candles. Loved that!” She also likes doing a bunch of different colors and/or patterns of cloth napkins. Betsy loves color!

Ree loves color, too, and she prefers to rebel against all the earth tones associated with Thanksgiving and throw in purples, blues, and even bright pinks. “All the Thanksgiving food is very brown and, well, food-colored. Blues and purples are unexpected contrasts!”

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Let's Talk Table Settings!How about you? What are your neat little tricks for making your table look extra special? Come share! We’d love to hear your ideas.


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Avatar of billiev

billiev on 12.27.2013

Shawna, we rarely put our food out on the table itself, we leave it on buffet server if we are eating in the dining room or on our kitchen bar if we are eating in the breakfast room. We do put the bread basket, butter, salt and pepper, gravy boat, etc. (the little things like that) on the table. It just seems easier for us that way and leaves room to ‘dress up’ the table if we want to.

David Donahue on 12.8.2013

We used to place a wide shallow bowl in the middle of the table partially fill with water and float Camellias with the first two leaves, smells nice too…

Shawna on 11.26.2013

I have to wonder, where do people put the food if you have such beautifully-decorated tables? Are your tables massive? At my house during the holidays, between the traditional dishes, the non-traditional dishes, and the vegetarian dishes, we barely have enough room for the food. I feel like I’m missing a key tip here… do you take the decorations off the table when it comes time to eat?

Sam on 11.22.2013

It’s different every year at my house. This year I’ll spread colorful leaves from my trees down the center of the table like a runner, and set a a big pumpkin carved with a leaf design all the way around it in the middle of the table, light it up, and use it for a centerpiece. I’ll use vintage martini glasses at each place setting for floating candles. I dip the rims first in corn syrup and then some coarse sugar crystals which sparkle when the candles are lit, fill 2/3 with water, and set a little candle to float in each one. Last week I found some really cute maple leaf shaped candles, and will use orange sanding/decorator sugar on the rims of the glasses. A couple of Xmas’s ago, I used snowflake floating candles and chunky white sugar crystals for the rims. I also use individual salt and pepper shakers, and make butter “rosettes” with a pastry bag or mold it into appropriate shapes in chocolate molds and put a few pieces on little piles of crushed ice in tiny clear glass dishes and set them next to the S & P shakers by each plate.

Avatar of Kari Lindsay

Kari Lindsay on 11.22.2013

I think food looks great on white dishes, and I change out the table linens (although I do love white linens as well). For a sit down dinner; rather than a large center piece and tall candles, I like to have lots of small glasses with a few blossoms and plenty of votives in carved out mini pumpkins for Thanksgiving, for Christmas just I just lay some tree branches and sprinkle some pine cones or small ornaments depending on my mood.