Setting a table should be a fun endeavor for the host, and it should reveal a zest for entertaining. Dinner parties — no matter if it's an intimate dinner for two or an annual family gathering — are special occasions. As a matter of fact, every day is a special day, so make sure each one is enjoyed to the fullest. Gathering around a table, albeit an everyday occurrence, is the time of day to put troubles and problems aside and relish in life's bounty. So, why not make it beautiful, too?
Etiquette rules dictate some of what can go on a table and why. This can include the height of floral arrangements, placement of napkins, positions for resting silverware, number of salt and pepper cellars per guests, and all the other minutiae that go along with setting a beautiful table. Of course, there have been other elements on the dining table, too, such as the once-acceptable spittoon and ashtrays. Those have given way to cellphones and digital tablets. I'd love to hear where the correct place is for a cellphone from my etiquette-maven mother, may she rest in peace. Surely, she would have said, "Off the table, in your handbag or in a bowl near the entry hall of a home." At restaurants and even in private homes today, this is a bit of an awkward thing.
Getting back to the theme of the column: table toppers. Nothing says more about a special occasion than a finely pressed tablecloth. Tablecloths are the foundation on which to set a beautiful table. Usually the most formal of tablecloths are white cotton or fine linen, but for every day, there is a myriad of patterns and colors that one can use to liven up a table. You really can have a lot of fun mixing and combining the patterns and colors of your tablecloths and napkins.
Centerpieces are the focal point of the table. As the name states, it marks the center of the table. The first word of caution is to keep scale in mind. While you want the centerpiece to grab the attention of diners, you certainly don't want to overpower the table with something too large that starts crowding the table, nor too high that guests cannot see each other's eyes during conversation. Be especially careful about the height if your centerpiece has flowers: It's easy to get carried away.
Almost anything can function as a table topper or centerpiece. Choosing a theme for your table can be as easy as picking a floral arrangement or can be dictated by the occasion of the dinner or holiday, even. There really aren't any rules around the theme if it's pleasant. Remember, the main point is to entertain and amuse your guests. It's a great idea, if your space allows, to decorate your table with collections of small figurines or any other decorative items. Be sure your table comes out on top!
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.