Wish You Were Here: Travel-Inspired Tablescapes
Serve up a dinner party with a side of escapism with our European inspired tablescapes. Next stop: the Med
In 2023, how you set your table for a dinner party is almost as important as the food you serve. For some, it’s top of the list. Tablescaping, a term you’ll be familiar with by now, is all about creating an ambience, setting the scene for a meal that will truly cement your host-with-the-most status. Not to mention, there is something rather satisfying about curating the perfect colours, textures and accessories to beautify your table and add a sense of occasion to any meal – no matter the finesse of your catering skills. Counting down the days until your next holiday? You needn’t wait for a taste of travel. If you’re getting bored of the same old linens and fancy something a little more adventurous, why not take your guests to the Mediterranean for dinner? Step this way for sun-drenched feasting, long leisurely lunches and intimate date-nights with a twist.
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Around the World in Tablescapes
So, what turns your table into an Instagram-worthy one? Well, the devil’s in the detail. Planning a dinner party around a theme can all feel a little ‘children’s birthday party’ - which is why we aren’t encouraging you to go too literal with this. Having a thread for a dinner creates a purpose for people to be gathering, making it much easier to construct a table when you have a mood in mind. Taking inspiration from a country or city can be as simple as emulating a mood with candles and scent…as opposed to centrepieces of dried pasta, with Pavarotti playing in the background. But what really is key, is knowing that inspiration can come from everywhere and anywhere.
Firstly, a great tablecloth (or roll of Liberty Fabric) will instantly transform any table. Then, you need to consider the space you’re working with: will you bring the food to the table waitress-style or place serving dishes in the centre? Height is the final consideration to create a visually pleasing landscape. Adding candlesticks and abundant floral arrangements can instantly transform a simple scene from a humble get-together to a real occasion. Whatever the event, create a destination inspired table dressed to impress. Not sure where to start? Find inspiration in our four tabletop edits for summer entertaining… wish you were here!
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Add Some Dolce Vita to Your Table
If you haven't heard, Italian Nonna Chic is the latest trend taking the tablescaping world by storm. Dedicated to creating a home-grown, nurturing feeling – this is a trend born from a love of Italian traditions and family values. In order to imitate such character and warmth at your next soiree try employing vibrant painted plates, murano glassware and sharing platters piled high with homemade pasta.
Not sure where to start? Dust off your favourite tablecloth and lay it across your table to set the tone. Ideally, your linens will be classic white and perfectly lived in, having stood the test of time and many a family gathering – just like Nonna herself. When selecting centrepieces, you don’t want anything too formal. After all, you’re going to require surplus real estate for olive oil, parmigiano, and hand-painted ceramics from which to serve your home cooked delights..
Nothing here should feel delicate, so opt for solid and sturdy bistro glasses and a solid marble wine cooler; it’s supposed to evoke the everyday chaos that you would find in a Nonna’s home. A family-style Italian table epitomises the comfort of a dinner party filled with those you love the most. Bellissimo!
Read More: Why Italian Nonna Chic is the Trend to Know in 2023
Inspire Memories of a Greek Taverna
No beach holiday on the horizon? Recreate your own taverna in your garden or dining room to impress a guestlist of twenty or two. When we think of Greece, the famous Santorini sapphire blue rooftops and crisp white buildings spring to mind - and not forgetting the cerulean seas and cloudless Aegean sky. We can feel a colour palette forming. Keep your table chic with a predominantly white table and introduce sea and sky-inspired tones with your choice of glassware and serving dishes. Think bright, light and breezy with a heavy importance placed on coming together.
A formal party with weeks of advance planning is all well and good, but what happens when people are coming over on short notice? No need to panic, this is where a Greek-inspired table really comes into its own. Designed to allow guests to loosely socialise over a meal without worrying about plating individual entrees and dishes, mezze allows eaters to simply take what they want and keep coming back for more – perfect for rustling up quickly for more impromptu get-togethers.
This isn’t a time to stress about fiddly centrepieces. Line the centre of the table with small plates filled with tzatziki and skordalia, wooden boards for flatbreads and large serving bowls and an array of platters for salads, fish, meatballs and endless feta for a table that’s shore to impress. A blue and white napkin that sings of summer for each person will be essential for wiping oily fingers!
Read More: The Best Greek Islands to Explore this Summer
Bring Spanish Flavour to Dinner
The chicest tablescapes this summer are those with the most vibrant sumptuous linens, colourful tableware and playful accessories. They have us dreaming of long, balmy evening in faraway lands – catching the final glimpse of a setting sun. For those who move on the less traditional side of tablescaping rules, this one’s for you.
A Spanish style table incorporates elements of nature along with bold splashes of colour. The look is warm, inviting and beautiful. Stone, rustic wood, terracotta, copper and ceramics are just a few of the elements you want to incorporate and don’t be afraid to pair clashing prints and textures for a wholehearted approach to setting your table. Spanish cuisine is great to serve at dinner parties as it's all about big bold flavours
Start the evening off with delicious tapas-inspired bites that shine. Skewer some pickled anchovies and place cured meats, piping hot chorizo and serrano ham with thin slices of Manchego and crusty bread. And don’t forget plenty of olives served in a small clay dish. Cooking a large piece of meat or fish makes for a fuss-free dinner party (and means you’ll spend less time in the kitchen) as you can heat it up prior to your guests’ arrival and serve centre stage. Jugs of Sangria or freshly-squeezed Sevillian orange juice will be a welcoming touch to your tablescape.
Read More: Chef Calum’s Spanish-inspired Dinner Party Menu Ideas
A Great British Tea Party
Want to stay closer to home with a brunch or lengthy luncheon? What could be more delightful than a Great British tea party served al fresco. Exuding warmth, comfort and a whimsical Cottagecore aesthetic this is a table with an appreciation for life’s simple pleasures. A time to stop and smell the roses, if you will.
Start with a simple table cloth or bare picnic table and pepper your setting with references to nature – summer calls for fresh florals and vibrant berries. Inject colour in a gentle manner (think soft, rather than bold) with gingham ceramics and the daintiest of floral teapots. The descriptive word here is quaint, not twee. Pair tall and short bud vases filled with cuttings from your garden – or foliage found on your daily walk – to vary the height of your centrepiece, and avoid creating a head-effect where guests feel too separated by the setting.
Think ahead so your guests don’t have to. Have SPF and straw hats at hand, and perhaps a basket of blankets to beat the unpredictable British weather. Of course, there is no better dish to serve than finger sandwiches with freshly-baked scones and dishes heaped with clotted cream. To finish with a bang, serve a pavlova laden with seasonal berries, rose cream and pistachios – and give your guests a welcome break from tea with a little English sparkling wine.
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