Winter Tablescape

A winter sunset is brilliant. Lavenders, oranges, blue grays, and tinges of gold and silver illuminate the sky as the deep orange sun sets this time of year. The woods are filled with gorgeous browns, greens, grays, and the air clean and clear. Bizarre as it may sound, winter has a serene beauty that the other seasons lack…all this coming from a lover of the richness of fall, brightness of spring, and depth of summer greens. Stripped of leaves, bare branches and trunks are quite architectural against the sky. The green of pine and magnolia resonate through the gray and brown forest and even the tiniest articles from nature – pecans, pine cones, antlers, and sticks – can inspire an entire table setting.

I believe every host and hostess should have a great neutral dinnerware. Whites, creams, and bone colored dishes are easy to mix with other pieces. Even a fun color, such as lavender, can be a great neutral, complementing so many colors found throughout nature. Take a “color challenge” and look for the tints, shades, and hues of a color you love within nature…it is amazing how the shades of a color will come forth from your studying of your surroundings. Lavender is my color I always find in the sky and other natural canvases.

So, white, gray, green, brown, and crystal clear stemware set the tone for a winter tablescape. A walk through the woods inspired this scheme… antlers, gathered pecans, branches of quintessential magnolia and pine… the elements from my walkabout were now a part of my table top!

White plates and bowls, placemats made of sticks, gray linen napkins, pewter brown flatware, and a rusty iron planter billowing with branches of magnolia and pine became the characters for this table setting. I then garnished with pine cones, pecans, and antlers. The day was a beautiful winter day and the tablescape was reminiscent of winter’s colors and textures.

Silver rimmed chargers juxtapositoned with the bone white plates and woven stick placemats were complementary in texture, visually and tactilely. Remember candlelight is the key to atmosphere - I used some antlers that have been converted into candelabras to continue the natural, woodland feel. Pine cones etched on the glasses also gave a nod to the natural vibe.

If you still need a splash of color, try mixing some green and white transferware, china, or stemware within your scheme. Green is still natural and quite neutral.

This Farmer took inspiration straight out of nature…do the same for your tableau and wow your guests with your congruence with nature. Here are a few tips from my table to yours…

· With nature as your inspiration, keep natural materials on hand. Terra cotta dinnerware, silver flatware, linen napkins, fresh greenery and stems…all natural materials for your nature infused event.

· Your sideboard can be the springboard for your table’s palette. Stack your plates, flatware, and stemware to amass your theme in a central locale, setting the tone for your event.

· Garden urns make wonderful centerpieces and dividers between table settings. If your table is large and your crowd is not, make double use of your table. A large centerpiece can separate dining and serving ends of the table, and keep the dinner party warm and intimate. Also, little arrangements down the table is a great conduit to keep a theme flowing.

· Take an inspiration point, such as a color or a certain element, and thread it through the schematics of your table design. The grayish, toupee brown of pecans lead to thoughts of pine cones and antlers... the antlers lead to dinnerware color and brown kept appearing in various and sundry shades, even on the back on the magnolia leaves. Rust on the planter just fit right in!

· With a simple, natural palette, simple arrangements work best. Pine, magnolia, and cherry laurel – all picked right off the property – were all this table setting needed. Embellishments from and for the said greenery are quite apropos i.e. pine cones.

· With a winter tablescape, it could be challenging to make it not look like Christmas…avoid red, stick to a green, gray, white, and brown, and your winter theme dinner will be non Noel.

· Keeping with neutrals for your tableware allows you to change the feel of the whole setting with what’s in bloom. This same theme could be filled with hydrangeas and shells in summer or gourds and pumpkins in the fall… basically the bones would stay the same and the accents would lend the seasonal touch.