Now, we don’t mean dance with a lampshade on your head or fight with your cousin Joe over the last piece of cheesecake! We mean setting that perfect scene in your home to create a warm, welcome feeling. Jennifer at Gilded Fork recommends the following tips for putting on a casually elegant display:
1. If you are presenting a buffet table, create a series of levels for your various dishes and platters to add some dimension and eye appeal, instantly transforming any menu into a formidable display. Find some sturdy elements you can use to build the levels, including upside-down pots, bowls, boxes or even bricks. Cover them with a large cloth, then use smaller cloths bunched around the levels to make an attractive nest. If you are particularly creative, you can accent the table with decorative items like branches, dried flowers or candles, provided their scents and/or leaves do not interfere with the food.
2. For the dining table, be as creative as your mind and budget allow. Don’t be afraid to mix and match the place settings and accessories — you can use alternating place mats, settings, or flatware. This is particularly helpful if you have smaller, matched sets, but are serving quite a number of people. Some risk-takers have even crafted each place setting to match their guests’ personalities — to great effect.
3. If you have a dimmer switch, experiment a bit with the lighting in your home to see how various levels affect the room. Cozy corners always lend a homey feel, but remember that the food itself should be clearly lighted. Put yourself in a guest’s shoes while experimenting — consider that you might not want a bright spotlight on the table so it seems like a lighted stage for those diving into the feast (you know how shy people can be sometimes). If you don’t have a dimmer switch, place table and/or floor lamps with lower-wattage bulbs (60 watts or lower) in various parts of the room, and turn off half the lights (or the overhead lights) to achieve the same effect.
4. Candles are also a classic, inviting way to softly light a room; they offer a soothing welcome that beckons guests to relax and enjoy — and everyone looks wonderful by candlelight. Remember to use unscented candles, as you don’t want other smells to interfere with the beautiful food you worked so hard to prepare.