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How to prepare your dining room for a gathering

How to prepare your dining room for a gathering

With Easter on the horizon, we’re looking at the different ways that you can dress your dining area to welcome family and friends. Perhaps you’re hosting a special brunch, or a slow and steady lunch that lasts all afternoon. Maybe your dining room’s a corner of your kitchen, a table on the garden terrace, or a room all of its own. Whichever is true for you, these things-to-think-about will really help you to set the scene.

Pick your spot

Before you even start to consider styling, define where you’re going to do the hosting – dining room table, kitchen table or garden table. Sometimes that decision is made for you; if April showers are forecast then you’re likely to keep your entertaining plans indoors, for example. Or perhaps what would’ve been your dining room has become a play room or a home office, making your kitchen table the hub of your home. Wherever it is that you decide, how you prepare your table for hosting all stems from here.

Make things extra special

This next tip is by no means a must, but when your dining table is bringing people together for a special occasion, it can be fun to go the extra mile with any styling. One of our favourite ways to do that is to create an over-the-table decoration that hangs low for everybody to dine beneath. In the first scene pictured, we wanted to make the dining room feel like you’d stepped straight into spring, so hung a mixture of hedgerow cuttings from our Flower Shop. It’s a bit of an investment, but it’s something that will last and last, so you can bring it back out whenever you want there to be a sense of occasion. You can read all about how we did it here.

Lay the table with the season in mind

It goes without saying that putting more thought than you would normally during the week into your tabletop’s scheme is a bit of a must. But think broader than just place settings and napkins, and consider what serveware and centrepieces might suit the season, and the occasion, best of all.

For springtime, we’ll be using our paler linen tablecloths that have this fresh-laundry-billowing-on-the-line quality to them. Or even no tablecloth at all, because that lets your timber table sing and keeps the look equally as fresh and crisp. Choose flowers that are in season (in our newest volume of Stories, we share three arrangements that best suit each part of spring and summer. You can order your free copy here), and mix them with potted plants and herbs too. A spring dining room paints a pretty picture when there are bulbs and seasonal herbs down the length of the table.

When it comes to candles, spring is probably the best time of year to enjoy pastel-toned wax on pillar candles. Try our Blyton candles in a mixture of sizes in colours like Flax Blue and Mist. If you have any of our Old Rose ones from last season, then bring these out to sit atop of candlesticks like Corinium.

Crockery looks best in pure white as that’s what helps the colours in your ingredients stand out and appear all the more tempting. We like to lay a sprig of greenery on the plate, such as Sage or Olive, to greet guests as they pull up a chair, and then they can rest it to their side when the food arrives. Try to mix crockery textures too, not just so things look more interesting, but because it points out that these dishes are for eating from and these for serving.

Encourage leaning in

Serveware in the centre of your table isn’t solely about doing something a bit nicer than popping straight onto the plate. It also makes the atmosphere feel more convivial and relaxed when everyone’s reaching in, leaning across, passing bowls of this and plates of that. Dot a couple of pinch pots too for those who like extra seasoning – they also happen to look lovely as part of your tabletop scheme.

Find a pew

If you’ve extended your table ready to fit more than a few people and are panicking about where everyone’s going to sit, remember that footstools and even side tables if you’re struggling are on hand to help. Nobody will expect your home to be ready to spring into action to host hundreds rather than your household’s usual handful. Part of the fun of larger gatherings is that somebody’s always going to end up perched on a little pouffe at the head of the table.

Tags: Interiors