Mrs. Alice founder & CEO, Alice Naylor-Leyland, on her mission to make the art of Tablescaping accessible worldwide.
Here are some of my go to tips for Table laying and entertaining. They are by no means gospel. Above all, making your guests feel relaxed, welcome and at home is paramount. But adding those extra special flourishes to your table, to me, does enrich and delight any dinner.
It’s fun to think seasonally. At Easter I veer towards pastels and ginghams while naturally during Autumn it’s more fawny orange and crisp browns. This doesn’t have to be textbook though. I often colour match my tables to whatever beauties florists have in stock. If I find a lovely pink Ranunculus my table will match that regardless of the season!
And how to match your table to your floral arrangements? It’s as simple as tying a coloured ribbon round a napkin or changing your candlesticks from green to pink. It’s all these little things that don’t necessarily cost too much but simply lift the table.
Top Tip: I love using coloured water glasses to pop any tablescape and I am particularly mad about patterned tablecloths (think old chintz and leopard) to add that extra layer.
Where to begin? Go for what’s in Season and be brave. Years ago I’d be too scared to mix variety and colour yet now I do this as much as I can. I love a peony with a dahlia, the combination of long foxgloves and little tulips or just go for a simple daffodil and a daisy. You basically can’t go wrong. When arranging your vases I think height is crucial so I try and have a mix of small and tall bud vases. If you’re thinking real drama I love a high floral arrangement in the centre of your table to wow your guests.
Top Tip: If your buds arrive closed and you’re desperate for them open before your guests arrive, just pop them into warm water and this will do the trick! Also... It's great to think outside the box as to what actually goes in your vases or pots. Ferns, herbs and even lemons make for a magnificent arrangement and not only do they last a long time, they don’t cost a bomb.
PERSONALISING YOUR TABLE
This is a minefield and you don’t want to go too deep down the rabbit hole. However, personalising elements of the table does always delight your guests. It can be easy. Tie a named tag to your jolly nutcracker or Easter rabbit. There’s always embroidering napkins, which although expensive, is a lovely gift for your guests to take home with them. Personal favourites of mine have been initialling velvet bows and making photo card place names of guests when they were younger. Just ideas…
Top Tip: Remind your guests to take these home! So often I am left with monogrammed napkins or personalised cookies that my friends didn't realise were for them. So give them that little nudge...
I’m a sucker for these and I probably go overboard. But who can resist a charming pastel bunny and a set of toadstools to brighten up any Easter lunch? Nutcrackers at Christmas, skulls and painted pumpkins at Halloween, the list goes in. But the key here is, these festive friends are not to use just once. My pals make their reappearances every season and I delight in seeing their friendly faces back on my dinner table.
Top Tip: When packing your 'friends' away until their next seasonal outing, make sure to pack them away safely. Away from water etc. They are more fragile than one thinks!
My mother taught me the secret to laying a table was by layering it. For me this starts with how I use my linen. Do I use a placemat? Do I use a tablecloth? Perhaps I’ll use both and these layers set the scene to add your plates, cutlery, flowers and seasonal decoration. Sometimes a table looks boring and dull and suddenly you add that final touch (layer), a potted daffodil for example and wow, it’s all come together.
Top Tip: Balloons, Balloons! I love using these as another way to add that extra layer to your table and room. Particularly for celebrations and birthdays, they really enhance the 'party feel’ while also providing great height and atmosphere. You can also colour match your Balloons to the theme of the table. Oranges for your pumpkins, Pinks for your Barbie Party… You get the idea!
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