Simple Pleasures: A Beautifully Dressed Table

“It isn’t the big pleasures that count the most; it’s making a great deal out of the little ones.” –Jean Webster

 There is little in life as satisfying as a successful dinner party, and the holiday season is ripe with opportunities to gather friends and families for a feast. Whether a big group or a small one, a beautifully set table can transport your guests to a world of your choosing. With so very many things to attend to (menu planning, shopping, cooking, baking), simplicity is a host’s best friend.

From Emily Post to Martha Stewart, there are a plethora of handy guides for savvy hosts, instructing us on everything from silverware placement to glassware, casual settings to fine dining. Seasonal table setting ideas abound, and holiday specific decorations are a well-covered favorite. In a pinch, however, use what’s at hand.

I recently hosted Thanksgiving in the canyons of California, (a delicious leg of lamb recipe found here), and had a day-of menu adjustment. With all the extra prep, I forgot to pick up decorations for the table. Fortunately for me (and my table), rosemary and lavender grow wildly on the hillside, and the day before I had happened upon an antler while hiking. As an extra bonus, a friend’s artichoke plant, left unattended, had flowered- if you haven’t ever seen a flowering asparagus, take another look at the picture above- I was blown away by how beautiful it is, myself.

These things taken together provided easy bouquets of aromatic flowers with a seasonal feel- the dark green of the rosemary against the delicate purple flowers, the pale lavender with it’s dusty jade stalk, and the purple and green lotus-like artichoke dressed the table in unusual style. The ten minutes it took to gather, rinse, trim, and arrange these items, alongside the found-object-antler, was entirely worth it. (Bonus? You can send guests home with rosemary and lavender garnishes, should you so choose).

If you find yourself in a time-crunch this season, take a look around- what objects of beauty might make a lovely addition to your table? What plants grow near you? Any fallen branches, pine cones, wildflowers, etc. can spruce up a bare table-top. Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday and a stress-free season overall.

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