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How to Decorate a Table for a Party

Jun 10, 2019
1 Choose the right table. Make this decision based on the number of people that it needs to accommodate, the amount of food that will be on it, and the type of party. For example, an outdoor party needs a table that will be weatherproof. The table itself plays a powerful role in setting the ambiance of the meal. A table made of exposed wood can set a more rustic tone, while a table of glass can appear more elegant.
  • The table does not need to be expensive to set a good tone for the party. It is more important that it accommodates the people and food well. Even a scratched table can look elegant if properly adorned with a beautiful tablecloth.

  • Different tables are appropriate for different types of parties. A low table can allow guests to be seated on the floor for a cultural theme or even a beach party. A picnic table can work well for a child’s birthday party or a summer party.

  • You might want to consider using a separate table for food and for eating. This can help keep the table from becoming overcrowded. This is an especially helpful technique for a buffet dinner.

2 Place the table in a good spot. Ideally, the table will not be difficult to access or hinder guests from being easily seated. Placing a table by a window can allow your outdoor surroundings to inspire guests. You could place the table by a fireplace for a cozy party in winter. Consider placing your table in or near the kitchen for easy cleanup.
  • For an outdoor party, consider placing the table in the shade or under an umbrella or canopy. This will allow for some protection from the sun and other natural elements.


3 Make the most of lighting. Pay attention to the light for your table. A chandelier creates a different ambiance than natural light. Candles can set an intimate tone for your party while bright overhead lights are more energetic. Make sure your lights go with the rest of your table decor

4 Use a tablecloth or placemats. This isn’t always necessary if you want to show off your table, but it can add a beautiful decorative touch. It is also important for protecting your table, which you will probably want to do with a kid’s table. Tablecloths can also make cleanup much faster and can add refinement to an old, worn table. It simply depends on the look you are going for.[4]
  • Choose your fabric wisely. Different fabrics evoke a different tone. Lace feels delicate and elegant, as does satin. Cotton is a great multi-purpose fabric for a variety of themes. Polyester cleans well and can have a nice sheen to it.

  • A table runner is another way to add visual interest. Choose one that complements your color scheme or theme. Place it directly on the table, or even on top of a tablecloth for a layered look. You could choose an oval-shaped one to add an interesting design.

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5 Use appropriate dishes. Your dishes will vary depending on the type of party you are having. Dishes at a tea party and a luau-themed party will certainly have different requirements. For a holiday party, dishes can even coincide with the theme. For example, a fun turkey-shaped platter will set the tone for Thanksgiving. Tailoring the dishes to the occasion makes a decorative statement and adds sophistication to an ordinary item.
  • This is also true of glasses. They need to be appropriate for the type of party. A holiday party might have wine glasses while a kid’s birthday party would not. A formal dinner or dessert party might even have champagne glasses.

6 Coordinate napkins. Finding cloth napkins that complement your color scheme is a great way to add visual interest. They don’t have to match exactly, but they should go with your general theme. You could try using patterned napkins for contrast or something simple for a more delicate look.

  • If you want to get fancy, you could even try folding your napkins into a fan or a swan. It isn’t terribly difficult yet it adds something special.

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