Decking the Halls and dressing the table

We’re entering into that crazy time of year – holiday time! Or as the French would call say: “C’est la temps des fetes!”

What is supposed to be the happiest time of the year can easily devolve into a time of tension and stress as we deal with out-of-town guests, tight deadlines and an overwhelming sense of obligation (if you’re me, that is). I love to write about ways to make entertaining easier. Here is an article I wrote for the Calgary Sun about setting the table for dinner. Little tips here can be used any time of year.

Photo courtesy The Decorating Den

The best setting for a feast or dinner party is a home with a lovingly decorated table. Using colours, plateware and centerpieces to create a visual impact will not only impress your guests, it will stir their appetites as well.

The colours on the table can have the most profound impact and make the first statement that guests see. Aimee Beatty, in-house stylist with Pier1, suggests bold colours that make a statement, with “bold crimson, spice, golden hues, bronze, chocolate, pops of orange, eggplant and a range of greens,” she says.

“Our satin knot napkins add the perfect wow factor to a dinner party and are available in shades of moss, rust, turquoise, brown and cranberry. The satin sheen alone adds a sparkle and elegance to the party.”

Simplicity can be the key in creating a striking feature. “Classic settings such as white dinnerware and elegant glassware and a statement piece such as a professional peppermill are always a great starting point for a beautiful table,” says Andre Deviault with Trudeau.

“Invest in good serving pieces and glassware that are both elegant but long lasting. Also, a few whimsical touches such as wine charms make your guests feel special.”

For your centerpiece, start by adding a table runner, Beatty says. “Trays can be a good foundation for a centerpiece, then begin by adding candles and a variety of ornaments that fit the occasion.”

Especially during the holiday season, hosts will often want to create a more decadent table setting, breaking out the good silverware and creating a vignette worthy of a glamourous party.

“By the simple act of adding chargers atop placemats always dresses up any dinnerware collection, as does layering multiple glassware sizes in goblets and wine glasses,” Beatty says. “The more layering you add to the dinner table and the simple addition of candles quickly adds ambiance and a new sophistication to the table setting.”

Napkin rings add sophistication to the table, while an ornament for each place setting completes the look.

No matter how beautiful the table looks, you can’t forget the most important part of your feast: the food.

“The secret to great tasting food is often simplicity and the use of fresh and flavourful ingredients,” Deviault says. “Always shop for fresh herbs and keep a variety of herbs on hand to spice things up.

“For something as simple as a salad, having a good dressing recipe on hand will guarantee good results every time.”

Word of the day:

Impecunious: having little or no money; penniless; poor

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