Growing up observing Jewish traditions and heritage one thing we did from when I was very little was Passover. The reading of the Haggadah and the service that went with it seemed like it took forever when I was younger but at the very end my dad would announce “Shulchan Orech!” This was the phrase that indicated dinner could be served! I should also mention that during this reading there would be a leg of lamb roasting on the barbecue outside and the amazing smell would be making us all VERY hungry.
That phrase has always stuck with me. This loud celebratory statement to “Set the Table” and then dinner could be served was exciting. I think that is why even today when I think of setting the table somewhere in my mind I am thinking of it as an event and a celebration of eating a meal together. Add to all of that my creative inclinations and setting the table has become something I look forward to. That’s what lead me to the phrase “tablescaping”.
Setting the table can be so much more than just a plate and a fork. Setting a table can set a mood, accent the meal, create whimsy, or even drama. Eating is an emotional experience so the idea of supporting the emotions you are trying to convey with how you set your table should be a natural extension.
Tablescaping doesn’t have to cost a fortune but it does take some creativity. No your don’t have to be “creative” you just have to think outside the box.
I wanted to do a dinner that I thought of as “Woodland” or “Forest”. There was a mushroom soup, there was a meat and potato main, and then I did a cake with a “forest floor” inspiration. This inspiration came from walking our oak forest in the backyard and just looking around. This lead me to observing nature. There were some green mossy spots, there was lots of wood, some rocks, and being early spring the trees and bushes were just starting to come to life.
My center pice was just a few fake branches of greens with some tiny blossoms. This was to reflect how everything is just starting to come to life. I added some pebbles around the base of the vase to make it feel like the centerpiece was growing from the ground. I had a large wooden pillar candle base that gave me some wood accents. I then bought some wood bowls. I wanted something dark and grainy to really help it look “natural” not too polished. I then bought an accent salad plate that used a lot of the colors I saw in my walk through the woods. Then for the “chargers” I bought a roll of fake moss at the craft store and cut out large circles.
Then it’s a matter of just setting the table. Being that it was just my husband and I the mood I was trying to set was making this “special”. I did this through crisp white table linens folded napkins, and stemware. Something about a formal setting makes a dinner feel all that much more special. For this dinner we didn’t use all of the stemware I set. Something I have noticed is done in fine restaurants is they have it all on the table and then once the drink choices are made they remove the un needed stemware.
When all together this almost felt like you could be dining outside in the woods. Had I just put dinner on the table it might have felt like just another steak and potato dinner. So when you’re thinking about how you want to set your table for various holiday meals this season, think about what you can do to add a little whimsy, drama, or the unexpected…. I am thinking about branches and dead leaves myself… more on that later…