Several friends and I have found the perfect item to donate to a charity auction. A dinner for 6 or 8 in their home. We cook and serve appetizers, soup, salad, entrée and dessert; we set the table and clean up. We even bring the dishes, flowers and table accessories. I get the privilege of creating a new table setting for each event and leave the cooking to the others! (It’s win-win!).
This spring we hosted another dinner for the same group of people who have purchased our donation for several years. They bid about a thousand dollars every year! With big spenders, we really go all out decorating the table and serving delicious food.
Our challenge is to come up with new recipes and a different tablescape. This year the weather was so nice, the hosts planned to eat outdoors. They have a lovely, private yard with a deck overlooking a stocked pond. They hauled out their dining table and chairs and I covered it with a basic black tablecloth.
I wanted hot pink this year and found cotton napkins and place mats in fuscia. I needed to bring in some masculine elements to balance such a feminine color. My goal was elegance mixed with rustic charm.
Layering is the key to any successful design plan, doesn’t matter if you are doing a room or setting a table.
Layer 1: black tablecloth.
Next layer: silver chargers.
Third layer: white plates with tone-on-tone border and silver rim.
With this foundation, I could bring in any color to finish the table. Pink just felt like the way to go. I folded the napkin lengthwise and laid it under the plate
Now for the manly components. Since I planned to use clear salad plates with an etched border, I found nuts in various sizes at the hardware store and set 5 on each dinner plate then layered the salad plate on top. Design Tip: always go with odd number of items. They not only elevated the clear dish but added texture and interest. Otherwise the clear plate would simply disappear!
The nut needed a partner, so I used the bolt as a knife stand. So often people aren’t sure where to place their knife after using it. On the charger? On the plate? On the tablecloth? A knife stand keeps the table cloth free from stains.
At dinner parties it’s important to control the seating arrangement, so place cards will tell everyone where to sit. I like to separate married couples and make sure the talkative people are sitting with the quieter guests. These place card holders are springs my husband had in his stash of car parts. Use a graphic font and print out names on card stock.
I bought matching placemats (you have to buy things when you find them, especially if they are on sale). You don’t need mats with chargers and a table cloth, but the table needed an extra punch of color. So I folded them accordion style in the middle and held the pleats together with a big clip from my office supplies. They look like big bows and are a fun alternative to a runner.
Flower arrangements are simple bouquets of colorful daisies in a small vase placed in the middle of giant springs. I love the contrast of feminine with masculine!
Candles are must for an elegant dinner party. I found a roll of old wire and wound it around white pillar candles.
The evening was a smash. The weather was perfect, the setting was beautiful and the food was delicious.