Ideas for inspiring tabletop decor.
Start with the centerpiece. It should be attractive and appropriate for the type of function booked. Floral arrangements of cut flowers, potted plants, or foliage combined with candles, lights, and ice carvings are all excellent ideas.
Be sure to consider how the flowers will look on the day that you will be using them. If you want flowers in full bloom, you should purchase them a few days early to allow them to open. If you are going to use roses on the same day as they are purchased, order “funeral roses,” which are at their peak of bloom. Store flowers between 38 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that strongly scented flowers, such as lilies or hibiscus, can interfere with the palate and affect the taste of the food.
Use mirrors to reflect flickering candles placed around a centerpiece. The mirrors should be clean so that the light doesn't show fingerprints or dust.
An important placement rule is that centerpieces on dining tables should be under or over sight lines. You do not want guests to feel uncomfortable stretching to peer over or around a centerpiece to see the person on the other side. To add height to a centerpiece, use a container with a slender center portion that does not obstruct the view across the table.
I am a proponent of edible centerpieces. A bountiful basket of various types of breads — sourdough, rye, yeast, breadsticks — makes an attractive and inviting centerpiece. Other edible centerpieces include a fancy relish tray, an antipasto platter, or an assortment of dessert items.
Be creative! Your centerpieces can become conversation starters. One idea is a crystal ball ice dome with theme-based items frozen inside. There are great examples at www.icecaters.com.
Take your table linens to the next level. Floor-length tablecloths can create a dramatic effect if the banquet setup crew doesn't push the chairs in — the cloths should hang straight all the way to the floor.
Use overlays for color or fabric contrast. Or use one patterned overlay and make the other one a solid color. Fabrics can include satins, satin stripes, sheers, lamés, damasks, Jacquards, and even fancy brocades.
The best way to get creative is with your napkins. A variety of Web sites offer napkin-folding instructions, including www.napkinfoldingguide.com.
Chair covers are available in assorted sizes and colors. Chair sashes make an event more elegant, and you can fasten flowers or feathers to the bow to complete the look.
Patti J. Shock, CPCE, is professor and director of distance learning, Tourism and Convention Administration Department, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Visit tca.unlv.edu/shock.html or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food and Beverage category