I love hosting dinner parties. Since buying my first home, this is something that has been a big priority and we’ve done quite a bit of. Having lived in studio apartments for so long in Portland, and also loving to cook, having a home where we could have a big table and a bunch of people over was like opening a floodgate. We host dinner parties often, both large and small. We have even hosted bigger holiday meals including a Friendsgiving.
That said, we hadn’t yet invested in quality dinnerware. Most of our plates were a collection of mis-match pieces I’d picked up at various sales and vintage stores over the years. I bought the set featured in this post earlier in the year, so we’d have something a little nicer for our dinner parties. It got me thinking more about tablescapes since it’s something I didn’t know much and have honestly been pretty intimidated by in the past.
Around the time I bought the plate set, my local Anthro store was hosting a free tablescape worshop, but it filled up so quickly I couldn’t get in the class. So instead, I turned to Pinterest and my favorite blogs to find tips and inspiration. From there and using my own creative instinct and boho styling, I’ve figured out a few easy go-to’s for putting together a lovely tablescape for your next dinner party. My theme was developed with a girls night in mind, but these tips can easily be applied to other themes as well.
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Tip #1- Pick a theme
This doesn’t have to be as big of a deal as it sounds. A lot of dinner parties center around a holiday, so this can make it easy to narrow down your theme. If you’re hosting one “just because” think about things like: “who’s coming?” “what season is it? and “is there another event going on (i.e. someone’s birthday)?” These factors can help you create a theme that will make it easier to pull your tablescape together. It’s not something that your guests necessarily need to know overtly, but it will set a mood. All your other decisions can be made based off your theme.
Tip #2- Chose a color palette
I would suggest choosing 1-3 neutral colors then 1-2 statement colors. Here my neutrals are white, black, and gray, and my statement colors are pink and gold. You can play this up with different shades of your color palette or stick to a rigid theme which will create an overall more cohesive and put-together look. Since my overall home style is boho, I wanted to play up different shades so the overall look wasn’t too structured.
This will vary based on a lot of factors specific to you that may not be easily changed such as the color of your dishes, table, and other accessories. If you are shopping for dinnerware, white, of course, is a solid choice that will give you a lot of options for your other pieces. Say you already have fiesta ware or something like that, then you could go with more neutral accessories and let that be the statement color.
Tip #3- Bring in florals
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I used to never buy flowers for dinner parties. After looking through so many tablescapes, I definitely think it’s something that can really help establish the occasion. You don’t have to have wedding reception level bouquets, but bringing in a seasonal floral that coordinates with your color theme can really elevate your tablescape look. An alternative to flowers would be other fresh greenery such as eucalyptus or even small pinecones for a Christmas get together.
Tip #4- Get a runner
If you love your dining table, use a runner instead of a tablecloth to show it off. Runners are more modern and can subtly pull the whole look together similar to how a rug can pull a room together. I’m am absolutely in love with this handwoven macrame runner (linked in the stop the post carousel).
If you don’t love your table or it’s pretty beat up, definitely bring in a tablecloth to help set that formal look. There are a lot of cute tablecloths out there, but a simple white one will easily work. Just be sure it’s ironed.
Tip #5- Tie it all together with your details
Details matter. They’re crucial to creating the tablescape look. Every little thing doesn’t have to be completely perfect, but pay attention when putting it all together. Create symmetry. Note which side of the table you’ve set the fork, knife, and spoon on. Make sure candles and vases are evenly spaced. Think about where guests will be sitting and reaching for things. This will create a balanced and polished tablescape. Your guests will be delighted to sit at the table when they see you’ve taken the time to think the details through. I know it’s something I always love and appreciate when I go to dinner parties.
I’m definitely not a tablescape expert, but that doesn’t mean I can’t host a lovely dinner party that has a special occasion feel to it. Bonus tip- include wine in your set-up out so your guests can toast right away!
A special thank you to the Portland Anthropologie Brewery Blocks store for providing all the the gorgeous accents featured in this post. Everything has been linked above to shop!
If you want to see more of my dining room or shop the furniture, see my dining room post linked here.