The festive season is upon us but needless to say, celebrations will be quite different this year.
With social distancing still a priority, larger-than-life parties and seasonal shindigs might be foregone for smaller, more intimate gatherings with close family and friends like family.
Despite the challenge to the status quo we once knew, there are many ways in which we can set the stage for memorably special celebrations. Starting with our dining table.
The act of setting up and styling a table (a.k.a. tablescaping) is often just as important as the act of preparing the food to grace it. Now more than ever, it’s what and how we eat that offers us comfort, distraction and so much joy. If you’re looking for inspiration ahead of the festivities from Navratri through to Diwali, gathered here is a guide to setting up your own festive tablescape at home, curated with ethnic embellishments and traditional touches!
Set the Scene
As with any tablescape, as a first step choose the overarching theme and colour palette within which you can mix and match different patterns and textures. On this occasion, our theme is festive Indian traditional, which is the perfect canvas for showcasing bright pops of traditional colours!
We can’t change our table on a regular basis, but we can change our table linen and that’s always the best building block to lay the foundations for different tablescapes. Table linen is not just limited to napkins or placemats, but also tablecloths and runners – long rectangular cloths that run down the centre of the table, as a base for setting out different serveware.
The festive season offers much room for creativity, so instead of just reusing your old linen, why not cut up and repurpose that old sari or even dupatta you’ve had lying at the back of your wardrobe unworn for aeons. It would look just as lovely as the runner pictured below, fashioned out of my granny’s old patola! The colourful patterns of this double ikat woven sari are a central highlight in our tablescape, balanced by the muted elegance of the traditional silver serveware laid out atop it.
As for your napkins, Youtube has inspiration aplenty for folding techniques, while you can also get creative with your choice of napkin rings! At home, we often use quirky keychains (such as the figurine pictured below) instead of traditional napkin rings, as well as ribbons (featuring striking patterns) or even saved rakhis and loombas!
Next. The serveware. There’s nothing more appropriate for a festive dinner than a traditional thaali set complete with 2 – 3 katoris (small bowls), a snacking plate (apt for that dahi vada!), a glass and key cutlery (fork, spoon and dessert spoon).
In terms of the metal of choice, a classic silver thaali set is the epitome of understated elegance. What’s more, eating and/ or drinking out of silver is also proven to have antimicrobial and immunity-boosting properties!
Of course, silver-plated, stainless steel, copper or even brass thaalis would look just as festive when laid out in their full glory, so really you can and you should use what you have readily available at home.
Now for the finishing touches. Flowers, candles and thoughtful embellishments are a must in any tablescape; but curate your choice in a manner that complements rather than overwhelms the other elements on the table.
On this occasion, our table linen is a dramatic centrepiece while the silverware is a grand highlight in itself. To strike a balance, we’ve picked out more humble flowers (marigold), tracing a traditional motif with the crushed petals and placing an earthen diya in the centre to softly illuminate the setting come nightfall.
Festive tablescaping also leaves room for decorations crafted with simple pantry ingredients from moong daal or masoor daal, to saffron and roli-chawal. We’ve used a decorative pooja plate as the base, especially as it fits in perfectly with the chosen silver serveware!
Lastly, do be sure to have lots of fun when you’re tablescaping ! Let your imagination run free and do be sure to add personal touches aplenty, as its always the more thoughtful additions which make a lasting impression. Once dressed up, your dining table will surely elevate even the simplest celebration at home to ensure that this festive season (despite the challenges we face) is a wonderfully memorable one!
Discover more tablescaping tips (particularly for an everyday context), here.
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