Dinner · Family life

Make it Practical and Pretty

Ever hear someone say, “Set a pretty dinner table for your family,” and your mind goes to a picture like this:


This was taken in the Breakfast room at the Biltmore House in Asheville. Impressive, right?  Realistic for every day?  Of course not!

So today as I speak to you about setting the table for your family’s supper meal, let’s simplify waaaay down to what is practical! Okay?

  1. For some, the first step you may need to take is to transition your meal to the table.
    The couch may be comfortable, but it is not a replacement for sitting at the table where you can look one another in the eye.  It’s also easier to make conversation at the table.  It’s the place where you can teach manners and putting others first.
  2. Use real dishes – not paper plates for your main meal.  This is a part of showing your family that they are special!  Using pretty plates and glasses is giving them your best.  This doesn’t have to be your china – but put forth the effort to use dishes that need to be washed.  Even the clean up of the meal can bind a family together.  Mom shouldn’t be left alone to clean.  Involve everyone!
  3. Set the table with fork, knife and spoon for supper.  Even if you’re just having soup and salad, get in the habit of putting out all the silverware.  A fork might be needed for dessert.  A spoon might be needed to stir cream into coffee.  A knife might be needed to cut that lanky piece of lettuce!  Set the table so everyone has everything they need.  There’s nothing more embarrassing than being the guest in someone’s home and they give you only a fork, and the meat cannot  be cut!  What to do?!  Ahhh.
    The fork goes on the left, the knife and spoon on the right with the spoon  on the outside.
  4. Give everyone a napkin.  Paper napkins would be fine.  Cloth napkins are, however, economical and pretty!  They’re also better for foods like corn on the cob or barbecued chicken or ribs!
    How about if you want to bump it up a notch?  Consider:
  5. Use a tablecloth or placemats.  
  6. Add a centerpiece.  Fresh or silk flowers, a bowl of fruit, or a candle would all be perfect!
  7. Fold the cloth napkin in a pretty fold, or use a napkin ring.  Here’s a site for instructions for napkin folding.

Some other tips to make the table pretty is to think layering.  A tablecloth and then a runner down the middle adds a nice softness to the table.  Here are a few pictures to inspire you.

I found this long tray at Hobby Lobby.  It makes the centerpiece so versatile!  A long basket or wooden tray would work in the same way.
I love the bunny napkin fold.  You can find my step by step instructions/pictures here.
This is a perfect example of layering.


A teapot for a vase!


Vintage aprons were the chair covers for a lady’s gathering.


Valentine’s Day brunch – Heart-shaped cookie cutters and heart-shaped box on a pedestal made up the centerpiece.


Pastels for spring!

Just use what you have and grow from there.  You might need to break your family in a little at a time, but I bet they’ll feel like the Vanderbilt’s when you make the table special for suppertime!

What other ways have you decorated your table?


5 thoughts on “Make it Practical and Pretty

  1. Thanks, Sweetheart, for making meal time an important event for our family. Great times of training, laughter, conversation, serving, and being together as family no matter if it’s just us or all six!


  2. Neither John nor I were used to any real meal time routines when we got married, but I’ve been working on it! My first baby step was starting to keep a placemat as a centerpiece and a container for the napkins (thanks to reading your & Whitney’s blogs!). Since it’s a small table and we also do school at the kitchen table, it makes it hard to keep it set with much. The placemat makes it just the right size to pull to the side when we’re working or playing games. Living with all boys I definitely default to the practical rather than the pretty, but I’m working on it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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