Autumn. The time of year when the spectrum of colors emerge from trees and their leaves, brightening the skies with its brilliant hues of golds, reds and browns. It also marks the time when we start thinking of decking the halls, and as Thanksgiving dinners and winter gatherings approach, a sense of anticipation is in the air. But where does one even begin?
Our vote is for the dining room, of course! This room, and specifically the dining table, will serve as the focal point for all your upcoming celebrations, and will contain and entertain the heart of them – your family and guests! It’s important then, to begin considering how you’d like to create that uniquely warm atmosphere, so that every one of your guests feels special.
Dining Decor Tips
Let’s begin with dimensions. It’s important to consider the size of your dinner table and how many guests you’ll be expecting. Will all your serving dishes fit along with the decorations and place settings? To avoid the risk of having to ask a guest to sit aside, ensure you’ll have enough space at the table beforehand. It may also be a good idea to do a ‘rehearsal’ dinner, wherein you can go through setting your table to ensure there will be sufficient space. In addition, you may want to consider if kids will be joining the table, and if using your heirloom china would be your best option.
A good place to begin is with the main focus of the table (apart from the food, of course) – the centerpiece. Your table centerpiece can be a colorful floral arrangement that can inspire the rest of your decor scheme. You may also choose to use a large pumpkin, a tree, a fruit arrangement, or even have your kids craft something festive as the table’s focal point. Just because it’s a traditional dinner, doesn’t mean your decor must also be traditional. You can also scatter smaller decorative objects such as candles, leaves, acorns, mini-pumpkins and ornaments to surround the centerpiece. An additional tip: Be adventurously creative. Table decor can also serve as a convenient icebreaker for those not-so-celebratory dinner table moments, of which we’ve all experienced.
Depending upon which holidays you’ll be celebrating, choosing colors for the dinner table entails a few other considerations. The traditional warm fall tones of red, orange, brown and yellow for Thanksgiving can bring that familiar feeling of home and the inevitable feast to come. Don’t feel restricted to only these colors, however. The use of too many warm colors can overwhelm, but interspersing them with small touches of blue or purple along with other ‘cool’ colors can create a pleasant contrast. Same holds true for December and New Year celebrations – don’t feel obligated to stick with only reds, greens and blues. Experiment with other colors such as silver and gold. You may even use the colors of the candle’s flame to inspire you.
Formal Dinner Setting
If you want to hold a formal dinner setting, but have been intimidated by so many details, it really isn’t too difficult. There is no real right or wrong way, so don’t feel as if you must follow any rules; you can just go by your personal preference. In a typical formal dinner, each setting will have its own charger (large plate) with a napkin placed on top. If you choose to have a bread plate, it is generally placed to the upper left of the setting. Flatware, or utensils, will generally begin from the outermost left and right and works toward the plate as the meal progresses. Stemware, such as wine glasses, as well as a water glass, can be placed to the upper right of the setting. Voilà! A simple and easy formal setting.
Decor on a Budget
Often times, we may skimp on the decor due to the simple fact that decorations can be expensive. They don’t have to be. Simple everyday objects can be utilized, which, with a bit of creativity, can transform into extraordinary pieces. Try a few fallen pine cones lightly sprayed with silver paint. Old twigs and branches, leaves, flowers – many of which you can find in your own backyard – make for wonderful arrangements. For name-card holders, you can use old Christmas ornaments. Mix and match your old plates and platters in similar hues of the same colors. Gift-wrapping paper can make for a festive and beautiful table runner. See what you already have on hand and in storage – you may be surprised at what you find.
Above all, enjoy yourself. This time of year shouldn’t be about stress and worry. If you love simplicity, don’t feel as if you have to deck your halls with glitter and lights at every turn. If you prefer a casual setting, forgo the dinner formalities. Surround yourself with loved ones and the things you love, and the rest will take care of itself. Happy decorating!