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How To Style A Dinner Party

How To Style A Dinner Party
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Whether you’re hosting Sunday lunch or a candlelit supper, the key to entertaining in style is all in the table setting. Who cares if the roast is overcooked or the soufflé has collapsed when your dining table is thoughtfully decorated with fresh linens and flowers! As entertaining season approaches, Assembly Label held an intimate gathering at Ace Hotel Sydney and set the table with our own home linen collection, Black Blaze candles, ceramics by Jess Sellinger and flowers by Beth Abood of Dandy Flora in Jardine Botanic vases. Here, we share what you need to create a stylish tablescape and throw a memorable dinner party. 

 

Assembly Label Linen Napkins in Damson
Assembly Label Linen Table Cloth in Silver Grey

 

Table linens.

Fresh table linens are like an artist’s canvas — they are the first and most essential element. Opt for a generously sized table cloth so that the fabric beautifully drapes over the edges of the table. Linen is a great choice because it instantly adds natural texture to the setting and if you don’t have time to iron it, the fabric will still look appealing. Napkins are also a must, both from an aesthetic and practical point of view. Your linens will help determine the table’s colour palette: choosing a tablecloth and napery in a single colour will look cohesive and classic, while mix-and-matching linens in different shades feels modern and adds visual interest. Pictured at our event are Assembly Label Linen Table Cloths in Silver Grey and Linen Napkins in Damson.

 

Ambient lighting.

The best way to recreate the mood of your favourite restaurant or wine bar is to choose the right lighting. If you’re hosting an evening soiree, avoid bright overhead ceiling lights (they aren’t the most relaxing option). Making the most of floor and table lamps around the room will emit a soft glow and create the perfect dinner party ambiance, as will candles placed on the table. The best candles for a table setting are tall and unscented — stay away from scented candles as they will compete with the aromas of the food and overwhelm your senses. Pillar and tapered candles burn for hours, look elegant and striking, and fit most candleholders (you don’t want wax dripping onto those linens).

 

“A dinner party should be a feast for the stomach and eyes, and the secret is in creating a sense of abundance.”

Layered tableware.

A dinner party should be a feast for the stomach and eyes, and the secret is in creating a sense of abundance. While you don’t want to crowd the table with so many decorative objects that there’s no room for the food, layering your tableware will look considered and impactful. Start with dinner plates as a base and then layer up with an entree-size plate or small bowl, depending on the menu. Using dinnerware of the same design and colour will once again help create a classic look, while mix-and-matching the designs will result in a rich, eclectic style — think serving your favourite set of plates alongside your collection of vintage dishes. This layered approach extends to displaying candles in holders and flowers in vases, which brings us to…

 

Natural elements.

Choosing flowers for the table setting has got to be the most enjoyable part of your party preparations, and beautifully styled blooms are guaranteed to win you lots of compliments. Generally speaking, less is more when it comes to flower arrangements. Rather than displaying big bunches in the middle of the table, which will obstruct conversation and plate-sharing, display single blooms in bud vases or group just a few sculptural stems that make a big statement on their own — the shape is just as important as the colour! If you’re not sure what flowers go together, ask your florist for what’s in season, and if flowers simply aren’t your thing, consider using succulent fresh fruits as your centrepiece — ripe figs, half-cut pomegranates, shapely pears, multi-hued heirloom tomatoes, bunches of grapes and citrus still attached to the leaves and stems look incredibly appetising (and double as dessert)! 

 

Assembly Label Linen Napkins in Damson
Assembly Label Linen Table Cloth in Silver Grey

 

A great playlist.

Music is a key ingredient — it enhances the vibe, sparks conversation and might even inspire dancing. Curating a dinner party playlist does require preparation, but it’s worth it. If you have the time, make a playlist from scratch, taking into consideration the time of day and the season (a Sunday afternoon in summer and a Friday night in winter will require different soundtracks), as well as your relationship with your guests — are they friends or family, and what music do you have shared memories with as a group? If you have a record player, this is the perfect opportunity to whip out your vinyl collection and put on a few records, perhaps when the meal has come to an end and drinks are flowing. That said, there is nothing wrong with leaving the music to the experts (aka Spotify). For restaurant-approved songs, search for your favourite venues as many will have their regular playlists saved. And if you want to set a particular mood, many of your favourite brands will have playlists for different occasions — head to Assembly Label’s Spotify for guest-curated soundtracks.

 

Personalised details.

An attention to detail will make your table setting truly memorable. Think place cards cut from beautiful stock with the names of your guests handwritten on each one. Or if you’ve planned the food well in advance, create menus with the date and event.  

 

Good old-fashioned hospitality.

Hosting a fabulous event at home all starts with these three magic words — drinks on arrival. If you’re hosting a weekend brunch, serve fresh juices in tall glasses. If it’s afternoon lunch, a sparkling spritz feels appropriate, while evening occasions call for a classic cocktail. There’s no better way to get conversation flowing. Be available to make introductions, don’t forget to take your guests’ coats at the door and have snacks such as olives and cheeses ready for those who turn up feeling peckish.

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