20 February 09 • MAV

Having friends/family over for a meal is one of my very favorite things in life and last Saturday evening I had my lucky chance to host our little every-so-often dinner party. As usual the gang shared in assigned food duties, some bringing appetizers and some bringing dessert. I, along with my Mom who was visiting for a few days, worked on the main courses, a salad, a simple cake and of course creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere out of my somewhat mis-matched flat. This includes one of my most precious parts of sharing a meal in my home: going about preparing the table.

I read somewhere that back in the day people started using tablecloths because the tables themselves were actually just plain old boards. I usually start with a tablecloth for an evening meal because I know there will be spills, usually of the red wine variety and usually by me! My tablecloths are always wrinkled and never so precious that they can’t be spilled on.

In a formal table setting there are something like four forks and two spoons and who knows how many glasses. Of course I think it is all suppose to match as well. When fully done up in this fashion a table can look absolutely glamorous. Strictly because of what I have on hand, I tend to lean toward a mixed provincial variety of table setting otherwise known as ‘a bit of this, a bit of that’. Although I certainly don’t know why, I never seem to have more than four matching napkins so I use a few of one design/color and a few of another looking for just the right combination. And I always empty my cupboards of all of the glasses I have trying to make sure guests have a wine glass, a water glass and perhaps one other glass just because you never know when one of your best pals is going to bring a bottle of champagne!

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For any meal I serve in the daylight (brunches, lunches, snacks) I never use tablecloths. I also tend to use a more relaxed form of setting the table and serving the food which always seems to include a cutting board of goodies laid out plainly for people to pick and choose. I enjoy the idea of creating the feeling that it’s still something special even though it is not in a more formal setting nor does it have the natural glow of an evening meal. Another great way to create that twinkle in the daylight might be to just lay out some linens here or there or even across one end of the table signifying that a space has been especially laid for those who gather.

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I will say, regardless of day or night, one thing I plan to start doing is a formal pre-meal portrait as nothing made me happier than when I recently came across this brilliant image!

However you set your table and welcome your guests, I wish you lots of happy gatherings this weekend and beyond.