Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dinner Party Place Setting Tips

It seems that around the holidays there are not only a lot of parties but also a lot of dinners: Thanksgiving, Christmas, family dinners, long-time-no- see dinners, etc. 


I recently have had to host and or decorate for said parties. Although I love to entertain and do own a lot of kitchen things, I own a lot less full place settings or really a lot of the same thing of anything. Sure I have 25 random plates for food blogging but that makes setting a table for a mere 8 people difficult. 


I do however have several sets of things in 4 and I thought I would show you a few examples of how I made things work in case you are struggling with these issues in your life. 


Tip #1


Whenever you do purchase items like napkin rings, placements, chargers, glasses etc. try to buy at least 3 or 4 of the same one. This way you have enough to alternate with another set for 6 or 8 or 2 sets for 12 or any combination thereof. My table only sits 4 so I have only been getting sets with 4 for to build with. 




Here are some basics I own in case you are looking for some for yourself or a holiday gift. I think these are a great affordable place to start for anyone looking to entertain more :

  • Set of 6 silver beaded chargers: Bed Bath and Beyond for $9.99 HOWEVER during the holidays you can find chargers for $1.00 at Wal-Mart or $2.00 at Michael's [and they go half off a lot so then they are $1.00] 


  • Red, Blue and Brown place mats [but available in pretty much any color]: $2.99 each from Bed Bath and Beyond. I love these because they look clean but also have some pattern and great colors. 

  • Cream and red napkins that match place mats: $1.99 each from Bed Bath and Beyond. It is nice to be able to just pick up any color and any amount of these since they are sold separately. 

  • Silver/Gold napkin rings: I got mine on sale for $1.00 each at Bed Bath and Beyond but they don't exist online anymore. I like these but I wouldn't pay $3.00 each. I cap napkin rings at $1.50 each max but can usually find some good ones for $1.00 each or less. In store a lot of them are this cheap but not usually on the website. 

  • Gold tablecloth: I have one similar to this one from Bed Bath and Beyond that is a medium sized rectangle, it probably cost me $20 but has been a lifesaver for many showers and parties. See below for cheaper options too!

So those are my staples for dinner parties.  They may seem "plain" but the idea here is that you can build from these. I don't have anything specifically Christmas because I know I could use the red place mats, or specifically Fall or Summer since I have brown and light blue. I could add any fun colors or accessories from these bases of charger colors and place mat colors; but at least this way I know I always have something that works, no matter what! 

Most of my basics are from Bed Bath and Beyond since that is where I registered when I got married. By no means do you need these exact things I am just showing you an idea of what basics can help you have lots of possibilities. And of course, your colors will differ based on your dishes colors. [White or clear dishes are a great investment for this reason-then you can do anything with them!]

Here is where I shop for dinner parties/table settings stuff today:
  • Ross, TJMaxx and Marshall's-duh they are the cheapest for this stuff and have lots of nice things too
  • Bed Bath and Beyond-when I go there I always check this department and the sale one for cute place mats and napkin rings etc. 
  • Pier 1-They actually have a lot of cute napkin rings and place mats and they often go on sale.
  • Big Lots-Again, they have a pretty decent kitchen/dining area so I always check out their stuff. 
  • Macy's/Dillard's/Kohl's-Regular prices are too high but sales and off season colors/patterns/styles will often get you 75% cute yellow place mats in the winter. Keep your eyes open. 
  • Thrift stores-Again, keep your eyes open. Look for sets of napkin rings especially since you wouldn't have to wash those like napkins/placemats. 



Tip #2


Don't be afraid to mix and match. For my "mini Thanksgiving", I needed 6 place settings but didn't have anything in 6, so using my above tip, I mixed and matched. Additionally, I not only mixed and matched with alternating place mats, I did it with chargers, plates, napkin rings and napkins. The possibilities I tried were really fun actually because they all looked good and didn't require me to buy any more than I had! 


Here are just a few combinations of what I had. 



1. Charger with a real plate
2. Charger with a real plate and paper plate [less dishes but more color and sturdier eating]
3. Charger with only paper plate


Here is how I alternated placemat colors, charger colors, napkin colors and napkin rings for 6 place settings [at my little table for 4...lol] I love the changing colors and textures, I think it makes it more interesting! 


I had another event recently and I put my square plates on my round chargers, but I thought it looked fun! 


Don't be afraid to mix it up! 


Notice in the background that I still alternated my chargers and my place mats but I also used different dishes and different glasses. This time I placed napkins in the glasses since the bowls made placing the napkins on the plates more difficult. But I was still using what I had!!!





Tip #3


Get creative! Don't have place mats? Use construction paper, paper doilies, newspaper or whatever you think could look cool with your dishes. Use a tablecloth and no place mats, or whatever! 


I only had 4 napkin rings, so I went to my bracelet drawer and pulled out a few favorites. I liked my "jewelry rings" better than my napkin rings!




The left one is my real napkin ring and the other three are bracelets! Now look back at the previous picture. Would you have noticed?? It wasn't so obvious when they were alternated with regular napkin rings. 


Another place to get creative is with place cards. Most dinner parties don't need them but are just something extra you could do for fun. Glitter a pumpkin in the fall, use a flower pot in the spring, or use note cards, gift tags whatever you can think of to identify places. 




Tip #4


Another option is to use completely different everything. A different cup, plate, bowl for each person. I love this idea and think it would be so fun, especially when you have lots of different colors and shapes, etc. When I do it I will be sure to add some pictures for you! 


Here is a picture I found online of that idea that you have probably seen with different chairs too!


Image from Brandon Kidd Photography here
I hope these tips help! 


I just want to inspire you to party more and entertain with friends and family more without being intimidated! I mean...did you see my paper turkey plates? I don't think it gets any less intimidating than that! 


What are you secrets to dinner party place settings? Where have you found awesome stuff? What have you done that is unique?




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