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vinicode™ wine reviews When you have guests over for dinner, you are treating them to a delicious gift. Your time and effort, not to mention money, has gone into creating a wonderful moment. The "tablescape" as it is now called, is like the wrapping on that gift. It is the "wow" moment. Most guests seem to appreciate a beautifully appointed table as much as a well-prepared meal. Here are some simple suggestions that might make setting a perfect table a little easier.
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tip and tricks 1. Create a mood

The simplest way to create a mood is with lighting. Candlelight is, of course, very intimate and romantic. It can make you feel as if the space is private and cozy. But don't stop there. For New Year's one year, we wanted to create an ice palace feel. We put those fake icicles on the dining room light. We used silver Christmas Tree balls and garland as a centerpiece. But the cold feel was not complete until we put blue light bulbs into the chandelier. The effect was dramatic and very icy.

2. Find Your Inspiration - an object

Ted had been given an old, art deco radio that was in desparate need of refinishing. He spent many weeks working on it and when he was finished he really wanted to show it off. That radio became the inspiration for a 1940's formal dinner. We looked to the Art Deco period for a sense of style. We chose the characteristic black, white and gold as our palette. And we kept everything very sleek and linear. Guests were told to dress the part and Clare provided hats and gloves from her own stash in case anyone wanted those added details. The radio was front and center and must have felt right at home!

3. Find Your Inspiration - a setting

We conducted a wine tasting in the garden of one of our friends. The light and the colors of the garden were our inspiration. We wanted the table to reflect the garden, and we wanted the garden to be an extension of the table. Ted has a collection of art glass that he has been acquiring for several years now and this seemed like the perfect time to dust the pieces off and put them to good use. The table just sparkled with all of the multi-colored glass. Some of the larger pieces were actually placed in the garden amongst the flowers for the guests to enjoy as they meandered the paths with their glass of wine.

4. Find Your Inspiration - a holiday

Let the holiday be your guide when setting the table. For our Valentine's Day For Singles Only we took our inspiration from those old, fold out Valentine's card. We wanted the table to look antique, and a bit worn around the edges. At a yard sale we came across some beautiful, if faded, silk roses. Down the center of the table we gathered inexpensive satin fabric in every shade of pink imaginable. Then we placed the faded roses along the length of the fabric. And just like those old cards, the effect was over the top!

5. Find Your Inspiration - another holiday

This is a simple tablesetting whose focus is a napkin fold. To find out how to create this napkin click here. The finishing touches were some inexpensive decorations - a bow and a miniature present. Be creative and use things around your house.

6. Use of Color - a lot

For our Sunday English Dinner we wanted the table to be as colorful as an English garden. We actually borrowed these rose-patterned dishes and drenched the table in color. The plates were rimmed with red and yellow roses, so it seemed natural to buy some real red and yellow roses to use as a centerpiece. Ted also wanted the table to be crowded as if we were at grandma's for tea and she decided to pull out all of her best. To us, a table crowded with mismatched, but color-coordinated items, feels very old fashioned, almost delicate. It is as if someone's life is right there for you to enjoy like little treasures.

7. Use of Color - a little

Just as a lot of color can create a mood of Victorian extravagance, a monochromatic table can be quite sophisticated and elegant. We invited some friends over to watch the Academy Awards and decided to go all out with a white carpet dinner. The entire table was simple, from the white dishes, to the vase of white roses, but the effect was stunning! Sometimes less is more.

8. Menu as Decoration

When you're at a loss as to what to use for a centerpiece, look no further than the meal itself. The menu for our Romantic Italian Dinner was filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. The color scheme used tomato red, eggplant purple, and because our dessert was granita, espresso brown as a base. The overall effect is of earthy elegance, deep, rich and warm. Notice, too, that once again we used a table runner in place of an actual centerpiece. If the seating arrangement allows, be creative with your table decoration. Just remember, if your decorations do include a large arrangement in the center of the table, please remove it before the start of the meal. This way guests won't have to talk around the flowers.

9. Choice of Dishes

When choosing your dishes follow this simple rule: use what you have, or what you can borrow. As a repayment for their kindness, the "borrowees" are always invited to the soirée. We can't tell you how many times guests have looked at their dishes and said "Why do they look so much better at your house?" If you recall, we mentioned that we borrowed the dishes for the English Dinner and mixed them with things we already had. In the picture, notice how well the milk glass plates and the carnival glass coffee cups work the with floral china. Instead of the pattern overwhelming, the look is lighter and more delicate. Buy only if you must, and then make sure it is something that you will use outside of this particular evening.

10. Using what you have

Clare and I challenged ourselves to come up with an asian inspired tablescape usung only things that we had, or items that we could get for free. We went to the local home store and got enough wallpaper to cover the table with a beautiful Japanese print. The centerpiece was made by inserting floral foam into two old wine boxes, that had been painted black. Evenly cut sticks were then inserted into the foam to create a calm, zen-like feel. The boxes were then topped off with red berries from the yard. The final was found, discarded, but could be replaced with a simple vase. To see the napkin fold that we used, click here.

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