Creating an inspiring summer dinner table
When throwing a dinner party, you want your table to deliver just as much on wow factor as your food. The first step towards creating an inspiring table with plenty of visual impact is sparkling glass and tableware, but there are a number of other decorative techniques you can use to show off your food to best advantage. Here’s our simple guide to creating a stunning table decoration for summer.
COLOURS AND THEME
Choose striking colours such as lime green, buttercup yellow or zesty orange for your napkins, place mats and runners to create a summery setting for your dining table.
Alternatively, if you have a specific type of cuisine in mind – for example, a Spanish-themed menu – then try to choose colours, objects and scents associated with Spain in your table decoration.
A meal of tapas, paella and churros would look fabulous served in rustic terracotta dishes with a tablecloth and napkins in shades of red and yellow. Subtle hints are the way to go – so getting your theme across doesn’t have to mean making a big statement.
There’s no need for formal, rigid etiquette in the comfort of your own home, so don’t feel obliged to hide your table away under a tablecloth if it has a beautiful design – show it off instead.
One easy way to create a clear, defined space for each guest is to place runners across the table at sensible intervals, leaving elbow room for each guest as well as space for tableware and glassware.
We recommend leaving at least 15 inches between place settings, as it’s far better to add an additional, slightly ill-fitting table to the end of your display than to have your guests be cramped during the meal.
With any centrepiece, try to ensure that it’s not too tall: 25 x 25cm is the perfect size. The centrepiece should create a striking focal point for your table without being too intrusive or showy, and will allow guests to chat and see each other.
If you’re looking to create a summery centrepiece with minimum effort, consider using a sparkling square glass container filled with citrus fruits like limes, lemons and oranges – this is a simple, colourful choice that’s bound to impress.
For something slightly more ambitious, fill little glass or ceramic jars of varying heights with a small amount of soil and aromatic herbs like lemon thyme, rosemary or fennel to create a delicious-smelling centrepiece with a rustic outdoorsy feel.
Centrepieces can often double up as a lighting feature, and you can put a quirky twist on the usual candle arrangement by placing tealights in lanterns, old jam jars or even glasses to create a charming decoration with a relaxed feel.
To create a sense of symmetry at the table and reinforce the fresh, summery theme; prepare one glass jug filled with water and cut-up limes and lemons, plus a second one equally filled with water and mint leaves, and place at either end of the table. Not only does this look fantastic, but it also puts a tasty twist on standard still water.
Another way to make an impression is to present the menu in an interesting way. Simple cards on the table can work, but consider printing onto cloth, or writing on a chalk board. Even painting your menu and displaying it on a miniature easel can work for the right occasion and company.
You might also want to add decorations that tie in with the menu. If you’re serving gazpacho, a vine of juicy, ripe tomatoes can give the guests a clue as to what they have to look forward to.
Finally, don’t be afraid to present table staples in an unconventional way. Rather than using a traditional salt cellar or grinder, use shot glasses or small shell dishes for sea salt flakes – it’s unusual touches like this that make a table special and memorable.