The 300 Sandwiches Easy Guide to Tablescaping

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2014xmastablescapeSandwiches are more fun to eat at a table with a festive tablescape.

E is big on tablescaping. Last year at Thanksgiving, I thought E and I would spend most of our time sourcing food and beverages, but we spent days picking out linens and candles for our tablescape. Not because we’re perfectionists and have to have every element matching and uniform, but because we like a unique centerpiece that guests will find visually interesting.

We take a “Where’s Waldo” approach to tablescapes—adding elements of different texture and shapes that guests discover the longer they stare. Sometimes we’ll hide a cute figurine or handmade decorations along the table, which always gets people curious about their origin. Our Christmas tablescape, above, includes Christmas lights, some round tree ornaments, glass figurines, pomegranates and taxidermy. Can you find all of those in the photo above?

Even if we’re just eating sandwiches, we tend to have always have themed tablescapes on our oversized coffee table, which also serves as our dinner table (welcome to city living). It gives the entire room a festive feel, and makes your dining area look groomed for a party at any time. This may draw more company to your home looking for a meal than you might expect, but you might as well have as many people as possible enjoy your tablescape work.

There is no exact science to tablescaping—everyone has their own personal style. But if you’re stumped on how to dress up your dining table for an upcoming gathering, here are four things I always include in our tablescape:

1.) Lights. Totally key. Get some carefully placed candles and have them light the middle of the table. Or have small candles (or for the holidays, Christmas lights) dotted through your tablescape. We also use the electric candles that automatically turn on when the room gets dark. It gives the room an instant holiday glow (and saves me time looking for matches).

2.) Nature. I love using foliage from outside or a few tree branches to set off our tablescape. In the fall, leaves that have turned a rich red or yellow add nice color to the table. For the winter, we include some glittered pine cones and a branch or two for texture. In the summer, for a beach party or summer cocktail, pour sand into Bell jars and group them on the table, or use them as place settings.

3.) Fruits and vegetables. You can use colorful, long shelf life fruits such as oranges, apples, pomegranates and cranberries in your ‘scape. We used a smattering of baby gourds and cranberries for our Thanksgiving one, and switched them out for pomegranates for our Christmas setting.

4.) Taxidermy. If you’re vegan, move along. If you’re not, let’s discuss! We ALWAYS have a piece of taxidermy on our table. My dad happens to be a hunter so we have some horns we keep on the table, which match our deer heads and bear rug around our house. It adds a rustic cottage feel, and it also “mans up” your tablescape, to keep it from feeling too frilly. Plus, it’s a no fail conversation starter—our guests always ask “are those real?” and want to know “who shot that?” upon seeing the horns on our table. If you’re all about saving the animals, then seek out some fake taxidermy on, which has a great selection of pretty creations. Or, place this ceramic little guy here in the middle of your table.

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