This week I was asked to write a blog about Tablescaping for the brilliant Rural Mums website (I am now officially a very important rural blogger …I live in the countryside and I write stuff…this is a fact) and I focused on the most amazing company who had one of those ideas that you actually hit your head in a “Why didn’t I think of this” manner. Dress for Dinner provide the whole shebang, if attempting a tablescape fills you with fear but you want to create a beautiful table for your guests then head to Dress For Dinner and you can pick everything from tablecloths to glasses, candles to vases. If you really don’t want to think about this element of your party then simply click on one of their boxes and they will send you the lot. Done. Now just cook some delicious food…

One of the most important factors when planning a lunch or supper with friends is comfort; with limited numbers allowed inside, we are all launching into the generally rather chilly world of alfresco dining. Our cottage enjoys a ‘refreshing’ breeze bowling in over the fields for most of the year so along with seat cushions and cushions for the back, blankets are a must – guests don’t seem to employ the Jane Austen tradition of “taking a turn around the garden” any more, they seem far happier ensconced in a chair at the table for the entire evening so comfort is really important. If you have modern day heaters then all the better – our thatched roof wouldn’t appreciate these new wonders of human comfort – and if you are feeling really fancy then a basket of cashmere socks for ladies who dare to brave sandals is a really gorgeous touch – I have never achieved this but I have heard tell of such luxurious joy.

Employ festoon lights or even Christmas Fairy Lights, lanterns and jars with tea lights or safety conscious battery candles hung from trees is always very effective. Real candles are a must for the table, providing height, additional colour and twinkle as well as the beautiful atmosphere that they create (and so kind to my oldening face).

Pictured above are : Inca Lily Tablecloth, Blush fringed napkins, Bridgerton glasses, Amelie pink glasses Summer Garden Decoration Set (Bud vases, Botanical Green Lace-Edged Candlesticks Blue, green and pink candles currently in the sale for £49) and Twinkly candlesticks in Jade all from the super genius company Dress For Dinner

The next simple stage is to plan your table. I tend to look at what is in bloom in the garden and work from there. Here I used the Wisteria as a starting point, adding a white tablecloth that echoes the delicate petals, using wicker placemats and candle holders to add to the rustic feel and a bright blue jug with a few yellow flowers and slices of lemon in the water decanter to tie the simple colour scheme together but not detract from the wonderful wisteria!

Blue hobnail jug from Ibbi Interiors, Wicker candle holders from Made Terra Home

This was a lunch earlier in the year when it was still rather chilly so lots of blankets, cushions and a cheery yellow Provencal tablecloth to keep us visually warm at least! Oh – and if the tablecloth is from Provence then surely the food needs to be du vin, du pain and…Camembert!! I added bright red thick linen napkins, oil lamps, wicker baskets and stoneware plates and jugs to play on the rustic French theme.

Tablecloth from Bon Provence, cushions from Cabbages and Roses, Oil lamps from The White Company

Ellie Moore – founder of Dress For Dinner – suggests starting with the table and working in: what sort of table is it? Too beautiful to cover? Maybe just a runner for some colour. Inside kitchen lunch? Keep it rustic and simple. Outdoor evening supper – a beautiful tablecloth, linen and sparkle. Consider the colours that you want to use, or the theme, perhaps a summer’s evening should inspire roses in sparkling vases, a floral tablecloth, twinkling lights. Then add the extras that create the magic.

One of Dress For Dinners boxed tablescapes.

A beautiful tablecloth, candles and fresh flowers are key. Then add layers with candles, vases, glasses, plates, mats, napkins, garlands and cutlery.

Tablescaping may seem a little frivolous but I promise you that your guests will feel cherished and will immediately relax. I love hearing guests arrive, crunching across the drive and entering our garden to be greeted by twinkling lights hanging in trees, candles flickering on crystal glasses and silver. Plates gleaming, linens and flowers and glassware providing beautiful colour and hearing the guests uttering oohs and ahhs – I pretend that I am still an actress and they are amazed at my incredible performance – ok, no, I don’t really but tablescaping is very similar to a theatrical set. Make it beautiful, fill it with wonderful things and let the audience bask in the loveliness. Then cue child tooled up with wooden sword and preferably nerf guns hit their sister with a blood curdling scream (from both), it really sets the tone.

I like to fill the table with objects of differing heights, textures and materials – glass and mercury candlesticks, wicker lanterns, silver vases, coloured jars: they all add visual interest and allow the eye to travel through the table. I do have the teeniest tendency to over fill so that by the time the food arrives (the dearly beleaguered husband staggering under the weight of the food he has created whilst I waft amazingly around the guests with drinks) there is no actual room to put the food on the table. A clever trick is to use a tray filled with flowers that can then be removed to another spot in the garden with just a few little jars or bottles dotted around the table for floral colour.

Asiatica Pheasant Plates and bowls from beautiful Burleigh Pottery

Blue tray from Turnbull and Hooch

Styling a table really comes down to a few simple rules: Use beautiful plates and glasses, linen napkins and good quality tablecloths, employ different forms of lighting and different textures and materials, layer from the base up and finally always use candles and fresh flowers. It really is very straighforward, so much fun and will ensure a very relaxed and happy evening.

To read the Dress for Dinner article on The Rural Mums website then please click here:

I was also lucky enough to be interviewed by the amazing Burleigh Pottery this month so if you fancy more glorious tablescaping shots and tips then please head over to and read about my abiding love for the timelessly beautiful 170 year old British brand.

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