Table decor-- what do you do with it?
Looking through all the holiday themed magazines I once again find myself envying all those people who set lush tables for dinner. My question is -- what do you do with all the flowers, gourds, leaf arrangements, magnolia blossoms, tiny ornaments etc. when it's time to eat? Is all the food on a separate buffet table and people have to get up for seconds? Do servants pass the dishes around?
Are these tables a fantasy similar to the rooms in shelter magazines where there are chairs and couches with no lamps, throw pillows are scattered on outdoor furniture and there's no TV anywhere in the house?
Do any real people decorate their table and what do you do at dinnertime?
Yes, we would always decorate the table for a special occasion and we had guests. Almost invariably, it's a largish single central decoration that we leave there while folk are eating starters and then whisk away before the table gets cluttered with main course stuff.
I also suffer from fantasy table envy. It just isn't practical for me, though. Instead I decorate the whole dining room (displays on the corner hutches, nice chair covers, fresh swags in the light fixture, pretty much every available surface) and then on the table I do a low centerpiece and some pretty candles. This way I don't have to make a mad dash to clear the table of pretty things before I can load it down with the food.
Decorating is one of the most enjoyable part of any Holiday/season for us, since we can enjoy it every day, not just if there is company. Like Lo, if there is an available surface- it's got a nice candle, ornament or something we've collected that is appropriate. Since my dining table is round and only seats six, for a special occasion like Thanskgiving I have a small flower arrangement that goes home with one of the guests afterwards.
I wish there were servants, I'm doing double-duty:)
I backed off on the table decor after the Christmas party many years ago where I did way too many floral/candle arrangements. One of the candle arrangements on a bookshelf ended up forever leaving a black ring when a guest pushed the arrangement under a shelf, and one of my guests set the basket of dinner rolls on fire on the buffet table. I'm just thankful it didn't set off the sprinklers!
I think that this year I'll just concentrate on decorating a bistro table where I'll probably have appetizers and the dinner table will be simple.
I've toned things down of late, but when I first started doing formal dinner parties back in my 20s I went through a phase of getting really creative with table decoration. I think my favorite was when I took a low, wide glass bowl filled with water, floated a few non-poisonous flower blossoms on top, and temporarily relocated some of the tropical fish from my aquarium to the middle of the dinner table for the duration of the meal.
When having people over, if the table is not full I put the decorations at one end of the table.
If the table is full, no decoration higher than 4 inch, be it candles, flowers, doodads, ...
and most of the time there is no decoration at all; food and company is enough!
I use one of three different serving styles. One, I plate the food prior to it going on to the table. Two, I serve buffet style and three, I serve family style with the platters and bowls going on the dining table. I do the latter less often than the others because I find it awkward passing large and sometimes very hot platters and bowls. When I do serve family style, table decorations are minimized. But I do have a goodly number of decorative napkin rings and even placecard holders.
PS: I think I'm a "real people" :)