Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Decorative Dinner Table Setting Ideas

Earlier, I made a post about how to set a formal dinner table. I love the look of an elegantly-set formal dinner table! The traditional white table cloth and matching cloth napkins, bone china plates, crystal water goblets and wine glasses, silverware, fresh flower centerpieces, and crystal candlesticks and white candles will never go out of style. They will always be the traditional and very classy first choice for a very formal table setting.

Sometimes, though, you may want to go a little less formal, but still make your sit-down dinner really nice. Maybe you don't have space on your table for all the extras like bread plates and both red and white wine glasses, so you’re not going to have all of those set out. That’s the case for most of my formal dinners. I have a somewhat petit Queen Anne style dinner table and my table space is limited, so unfortunately I have to limit what items I put down for each place setting.

Rather than use my more traditional teal and gold Royal Doulton bone china (which I still really like) for this dinner, I wanted a deep purple and gold color scheme for the tables. I wanted something different from my usual formal dinner look, and I wanted to see some new, vibrant colors on the table and a lot of visual appeal, but I still wanted the tables to be on the “formal” side. A primarily white formal dinner table can seem a little hum-drum and boring if that’s all you ever do. Sometimes you might want something a little more festive or lively.

In today’s post, I thought I’d share some pictures of my table settings for this dinner. I actually set three tables, all with a deep purple and gold theme. This may give you some ideas for what you can do for your next formal dinner.

I went with a traditional white eyelet lace table cloth. I didn’t want to overdo the purple or gold on the table, so white was the obvious choice for linens. [However, I have set some very nice formal (or at least semi-formal) tables in the past with a solid colored table cloth and white china plates. You could also use a white base table cloth, and top that with a printed or solid color cover sheet. Napkins could match the colored top sheet. The plates should be white or a lighter shade of the color of the tablecloth. It can all be very elegant, yet formal, while using a fun burst of colors. Using a solid colored table runner on top of a white table cloth can also be very striking.]

For plates, I used my white and gold band plates from Ten Strawberry Street. There are many manufacturers out there that make a similar design plate—plain white with a gold, silver or platinum border of some kind. What I really like about the plain bone china is that it’s so versatile. You can create any table color scheme with these plates, because you’re not limited to the colors found on the china with the ornate designs. Ten Strawberry’s gold band china has an added plus of being very inexpensive.

I don’t always use charger plates, but this time I did. Chargers are placed underneath the dinner plates. They are a purely decorative element—not meant to be eaten upon—and enhance the color scheme of the table and add a little textural variety. In my case, they added a lot of “gold” to the table. I got these charger plates at Hobby Lobby, for about $2 each. It was a small investment for how much they added to the table. Hobby Lobby also carries silver charger plates. You can find a lot of other colors and designs for chargers at other retailers like World Market.

I shopped and shopped for purple napkin rings. I looked at what online retailers had to offer and local stores as well. I couldn’t find anything close to what I had in mind. So I decided to make my own. I used about 10 packages of crystal beads, which I found at Hobby Lobby, and made my own napkin rings. It was just a matter of stringing the beads on a 20 guage wire (the same wire that’s used in a lot of jewelry making and craft projects) and tying them into 2-inch circles. The color of the beads matched my color scheme perfectly, and I probably spent far less making my own, than if I would have been able to find similar napkin rings in a retailer outlet somewhere (but of course, I couldn’t!). And this way, I got exactly what I wanted for the table. Besides Hobby Lobby, Michael’s also carries a large selection of beads for jewerly making. They’re ideal for turning into napkin rings.

You can also easily make some very creative napkin rings out of silk flowers—which again, Hobby Lobby carries a lot of. This is another way to really bring on some vibrant color to your table. Craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, and even Super WalMart sometimes, often have a large selection of silk flowers. Chose one with a 2 to 4 inch diameter flower, and make sure there is at least 12-inches of stem attached to the flower. The stem should be made out of bendable wire. Using pliers, bend the stem of the flower to form a circle that is about 2 inches wide (just enough to put your cloth napkins through). Wrap the stem into a circle several times. That makes a nice napkin ring. If desired, you can wrap the wire stem with cloth ribbon, and glue that in place with a glue gun.

You can save a lot of money making your own napkin rings, and again, you can create some unique table accents this way. Usually department stores and home stores primarily carry the more traditional napkin rings made out of plastic, ceramic, metal or wood—and they’re often pricey and may very well not come in the color you’re looking for.

You should have at least one large centerpiece at your table. Or, you might go with several smaller centerpieces at each table, and those would be set at every two place settings. I went with floating candle centerpieces for my dinner party this past weekend . I was able to find dark purple floating rose candles, which matched the other purple decorations I had already selected for my table. I really like using a floating candle centerpiece, for a change of pace from the more usual fresh flower centerpiece. Some people associate floating candle centerpieces with weddings, and they are indeed great for weddings, but they add a special touch to dinner parties too. There is something really special about a candle floating on water.

Around the base of the floating candle centerpiece, and along the centers of each of the tables, I placed purple silk rose petals and scattered purple acrylic “confetti” crystals on top of the petals. I found these items at Hobby Lobby, in the wedding supplies aisle, and the crystals from some online retailers (many of which sell their products on You could also scatter glitter, florist’s glass gems, vase stones, or small pieces of curled curling ribbon on your table. If you find these items in the right colors, it can really add to your color scheme.

For place card holders, I used the small vases which were filled with deep purple carnations, which I wrote about in my last post. To further add some “gold” to the table, I used a gold ink calligraphy pen, and wrote each of my guests’ names onto small place cards.

I found the place card holders in the wedding aisle at Hobby Lobby. Similar vase place card holders, along with a huge selection of other styles of place card holders, can be found online. Place card holders are one of those things that can be hard to find in home and department stores. I think they’re an essential element of the formal dinner table, especially if you’ve got a large number of dinner guests. But they’re hard to find for “home use.” If a store carries them, they usually only have one or two styles, if that. But there are hundreds and hundreds of styles of place card holders available from online wedding supply retailers. Really, I have found some of my best table decorations from wedding retailers and craft stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels.

These are some of my ideas for how to add pizzazz to a dinner table. If any of you reading this have any of your own ideas, please share them. I’d love to hear from you!



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