We all love to entertain any time of year, but there is something special about gathering friends and family in the long, relaxed days of summer.

Today, I’ve teamed up with some inspiring ladies to bring you lots of summer entertaining ideas. If you are new here, welcome! If you’ve come over from Ann of onsuttonplace, thank you so much for stopping here. I know you were inspired, Ann has such great style!

 

I love sharing tips for living a beautiful life, creating a home that expresses your own style, and most of all, I love to share my enthusiasm about antiques and their secret past lives.

 

 

Those of you who know me, know that I love nothing more than styling a beautiful table. But lately I’ve been receiving some emails and messages on IG from you asking for some tips to make it easier and less stressful.

 

Table-setting can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! These days we’re not bound by stuffy rules, we can take liberties that our grandmothers or even mothers wouldn’t have thought to do.

 

 

 

We can set our tables the way we design our homes, putting the emphasis on our own personal style, using quirky, storied pieces that have meaning to us. We can add a bit of whimsy, add layers, and make our tables a feast for the eyes and soul.

 

 

 

 

Whether you are having a few of your best friends over to celebrate the weekend, or hosting an elaborate five-course dinner, here are my best tips to help you set your fabulous, romantic French Country style tables like a pro.

 

 

 

Deciding the overall ambience you want your event to have will determine what details you’ll want to weave into your overall setting. Formal or casual? From your menu to your centerpieces, the colors you use, and the napkins you use and how you place it all on the table, it all stems from this first decision.

 

 

 

Most hosts or hostesses plan a more casual table setting for a casual meal. Me? I like to mix it up! I love using antique fine china, or these gorgeous hand painted plates with their stunning designs for a more casual meal.  Fine china will work for any occasion, it just depends on how you style it.

 

 

I am over the moon in love with these hand made, hand painted plates that emulate Delft.  Made entirely by hand in Oxford, England, by Deborah Sears, each one of these is an original work of art.  Aren’t they gorgeous?! I couldn’t believe it when I found a set. They were the inspiration for this table setting.

 

 

 

The beautiful hand-painted patterns Paladian and English Gardens evoke the spirit of 17th and 18th century England, I couldn’t wait to plan a table around these!

For this table, I used one of our new Grey Linen Tablecloths to ground the table. The color and texture of the linen makes the plates look amazing.  {below is a photograph of the luxurious ruffle…snapped before the table was set}

 

 

 

 

Underneath each plate I folded my favorite pink ruffled linen napkins from PomPom at Home. {sad to say, they are discontinued, I have just 4 sets left for sale on the shop site}

 

 

 

 

Even in a simpler table setting, you can make each guest place feel special.  There are so many fun, thoughtful details you can add; easy small touches that let your guests know this is more than a thrown together evening of food.

 

 

 

 

Place cards, while seemingly a little old-fashioned, are a thoughtful way to let your guests know you are excited they are joining you.  If you are handy with a calligraphy pen, a personally written card is beautiful, but if you are not {like me} just print cards out on your computer and printer, there are plenty of pretty fonts to choose from.

 

 

 

 

One of my very favorite tricks that cost pennies but adds a fabulous touch of  WOW to your table is to take a photograph of the dishes, then use a graphic program to print out little name cards, and a menu. Easy! Our guests never fail to exclaim over them.

 

 

 

 

Little sprigs of greenery or a blossom on every plate is a stunning, simple way to bring drama to your setting.

 

 

 

 

Flowers. Fresh flowers in a free flowing arrangement always add beauty to any of your tables. You can mix in a little “faux” here and there, but there is nothing like fresh, real flowers to bring all out luxury to your table top.

 

These? 2 bunches of roses, one bunch of mini-carnations, one bunch of pink something else {forgot-sorry! and of course I threw away the wrapping} and 2 bunches of seeded eucalyptus branches from Trader Joe’s. Total: $22.00.I added in a small hydrangea blossom from the garden that snapped off in the wind. Nothing to break the bank, so that you have money left in your budget for that fabulous bottle of champagne.

 

TIP: Choose colors that are close to each other to create a luxurious, high end look.

 

 

A little whimsy and fun. I placed pink and white taffy candies in antique Venetian goblets with a touch of gold on the table. JUST. FOR. FUN. Because, who doesn’t like fun?

 

 

 

Printed Menu. This makes any casual setting instantly thoughtful. It also gives your guests a hint at what’s coming further in the evening, so that they know if they want to save room for dessert, or not.

Don’t clutter up your tabletop so there isn’t room to “breathe”, you want there to be space for eyes to rest, and for adding a basket of bread, butter, or a dish of fruit for your guests to enjoy.

Just because you are using fine china, real napkins and flowers, don’t fall into the trap of the expected.  You want to create an atmosphere for your guests to feel relaxed, not scared to ruin your table settings!  {read= this means don’t use your gold encrusted museum-quality plates for a dinner party without placing a clear glass plate on the top, so your guests feel like it’s ok to use their knife}

 

 

 

 

Even your formal table settings should have a casual, relaxed feeling. Focus on keeping things simple, using plates, glassware and flatware that your guests will be comfortable using.  While these plates are hand painted and of true luxury quality, the grey glasses are ones that I picked up for less than $2.00 a few years back. I love tables that use this high/low mix!

 

 

 

 

Adding unexpected touches like your name cards, your menu printed out, a silly quote, or a dinner party favor that is whimsical will elevate your table above the expected.  The whole idea is to spend time with your friends and family enjoying each other’s company and having your laughter ring around the table.

Don’t second-guess or overthink your table setting. If setting a table overwhelms you, it will show as stress to your guests. Having a good time is the whole reason you are preparing your table for your event or meal.

 

 

 

 

For this dinner party, I pulled up one of our French benches, topped it with a faux fur {shhh…one of the kids dropped a chocolate on it, and I haven’t had time to wash the cover yet} which is not only comfortable but hides a multitude of sins – see chocolate secret, above.

 

 

 

 

It just happens that these dishes have a matching platter, so I used it for serving a summer salad.

 

 

 

 

And served these little pink ice cream desserts on a scalloped plate. This is not often my usual when setting tables at FrenchGardenHouse.  Usually, it’s a mix match of everything I love.

Not everything has to match, ever! Just have fun with your setting, light a few candles and enjoy the evening.

 

 

A relaxed hostess is the best gift you can give guests.  Have fun. The evening is ready for dinnertime chatting, catching up, and making memories.

I put together a small source list, since so many of you always ask.

 photo French-country-grey-tableclotht.jpg| photo Sears-hand-painted-delft-platter.jpg|  photo Charlie-pink-ruffle-napkin-1.jpg | photo Untitled_1.jpg

I hope you enjoyed this summer table setting post and make sure to go to my friend Lory at Designthusiasm. I know you will leave inspired!

Designthusiasm

Garden party decorations | Tabletop tips for summer entertaining - designthusiasm.com

Citrine Living

outdoor-blue-and-white-tablescape-ginder-jars-and-lantern

Bless’er House

patriotic tablescape

StoneGable

StoneGable

On Sutton Place

outdoor dining al fresco crystal goblet

French Garden House

Romantic-French-Country-Summer-Table-setting

Monday’s Posts

Monday summer

Shabbyfufu | Randi Garrett Design | Maison de Cinq | My Soulful Home | Zevy Joy

Tuesday’s Posts

Summer Blog Tour Tuesday

Life on Virginia Street | Town and Country Living | Celebrating Everyday Life
So Much Better With Age | Decor Gold Designs | French Country Cottage

Wednesday’s Posts

Designthusiasm | Citrine Living | Bless’er House
StoneGable | On Sutton Place | French Garden House

Thursday’s Posts

Becky Cunningham | The Wood Grain Cottage | Eleven Gables

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