March of the Penguins

This week, something a little different that was so much fun: Our little Dinner and a Movie Supper Club met at our house. I hated the movie (very graphic documentary…sorry, Jackie, but I lean toward a different kind of mating ritual in the form of romantic comedies! 🙂 ), but decorating the table to go with the movie’s theme was a blast!

So, without further ado, I give you March of the Penguins!

Grownups want to have fun every once in awhile, too, so I wanted this tablescape to have some youthful features with an adult flair. Predominant colors of the evening: black, white and goldenrod (which is fancy talk for yellow!).

A snowy white cotton linen was the foundation for the table. A jolt of color was presented in the form of goldenrod placemats (Bed, Bath & Beyond) turned lengthwise for an elongated effect. A black acrylic charger, plain white dinner plate and solid black salad plate were then topped with a goldenrod napkin. Sophisticated black flatware and Godinger crystal rounded out the setting.

Using my computer and a pair of decorative edge scissors, I created a program for each guest so they’d know what was in store for the evening. The black bow ties were very inexpensive from a clearance rack at Hobby Lobby a couple of years back. I just glued them on to each program with a low-heat glue gun.

 

Glass cylinders are so great for all kinds of displays! I have them in heights varying from 3 to 31 inches!!! For this tablescape, I used an 11″ x 9″ in the center flanked by two 4″ x 8″. Each was placed atop a 14″ round mirror that gives the illusion of an icy pond. I filled them with a couple of inches of faux snow for a wintry effect, then dropped in penguins, pinecones, bottle brush trees, and shiny silver balls. (I always toss a little iridescent glitter in with the “snow” to give it a little more sizzle!) The taller cylinder was large enough for a white wicker sleigh with a penguin and his Christmas tree along for the ride. Having researched the yearly mating journey of penguins, I decided to mimic their colonies by using them in great numbers all over the table.

These pretty little bottle brush trees only stand about 6″ tall, but they pack a big punch with their shimmering branches that glow by the light of the votive candles.

Tall glass candlesticks topped with shiny silver balls lend height and additional shimmer to the tablescape.

Of course the buffet had to get a little special treatment, too! There’s almost no such thing as “too much candlelight.” Grouping them en masse like this gives an unprecedented look to any tablescape. (They also flatter every skin tone and make everyone look fabulous!) These votives, lined up on 3 sides, softly illuminate the silver balls in the glass cylinders and all the lovely cut crystal on the after-dinner drink tray.

The supper club wants to meet here again next month. We’ll see!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR ONE AND ALL!!!

To see all the photos from the March of the Penguins tablescape, please click here or on the “Winter” tab above!

This week I am again delighted to join Susan and all the other incredibly talented tablescapers for Tablescape Thursday! When you’re finished here, pop on over and check them out!

Frosty the Snowman

ME: “Hi. I’m Alycia”

GROUP: “Hi, Alycia!”

ME: “I’m a tablescaper for adults.” (Group collectively gasps in horror. OctoMom and Kate Gosselin both reach for their cells to dial 911.)

There you have it! The truth is finally out. When it comes to tablescaping with children in mind, I’m like a man in Victoria’s Secret at closing time on Valentine’s Day: I haven’t got a clue and I’m desperate at best! Yes, I have a child for whom I threw parties of all kinds when he was growing up, but I never felt quite comfortable with the whole process. Kids are fickle. What’s “fly” today is “whack” tomorrow. (Even those terms are probably “whack” by now!) Who knows what will make me the cool grandma?

This week I am challenged…and I do mean CHALLENGED…with creating a tablescape for a group of “tweeners.” (For those of you like me who would have to look that up, that means kids at that age somewhere between little kids and teenagers. Middle schoolers, I suppose.) These kids don’t want to be babied, but they’re not ready for a glass of wine with dinner, either. They don’t believe in Santa Claus, but they still have a bedtime curfew and have to be reminded to wash behind their ears. You get who I’m talking about. So…..

Here’s the result for a tweeners’ Christmas luncheon to be held here on Thursday! Pity these children, for I assure you…I know not what I do! 🙂

Frosty sits in his sleigh at the front door to welcome our young guests!

 

Cheery red, snow-white and chimney black are the predominant colors used for this “tweeners” Christmas luncheon.

 Each place setting consists of a black acrylic charger topped with a white plate, a frosted snowflake, and a cheerful red & white Hallmark salad plate in one of four designs. A happy little snowman with a sprig of seasonal greenery tops it all off.  White cotton napkins, everyday stemware, and simple white flatware complete the setting.

I used these same red buckets over the summer for a picnic. For these photos each is filled with faux snow, but we’re expecting frosty weather to move in so each will be filled with the real thing to keep the Coca-Cola icy and refreshing. Using foods or containers with coordinating hues (like the red, white & black of the Coca-Cola bottle) is a great way to add color to the table.

Shiny black buckets with tasty candy canes are decorated with faux snow and shimmering snowflakes that are smaller versions of the snowflakes at each place setting. The buckets are placed on opposite ends of the table.

The tablescape is filled with 2 sizes of decorated miniature trees, bright red lanterns from Pier 1 , and more snowmen all on a carpet of cottony “snow.”

Snowmen in the lanterns, clad in jaunty black & white gingham scarves, are surrounded by mounds of snow and other seasonal elements.

On the outside of each lantern are additional snowflakes that resemble falling snow. Styrofoam “snowballs” are scattered about the blanket of glistening snow.

I bought a dozen or so of these tabletop trees in 2 sizes a few years back. A couple of years ago I handwired in all of the red & gold ornaments which took several hours and a couple of tubes of arthritis cream! 🙂

The luncheon table is fun for the young people with all the red & white. The miniature trees decked in red & gold coordinate perfectly with the red & gold-laden lighted greenery on the buffet behind the table. After the luncheon, we adults can enjoy the buffet decor on into the evening with the help of warm multi-level candlelight.

A few other winter tablescapes on this site include:
“Kaleidoscope Christmas”
“Merry & Bright – Multi-Color Christmas”
“Christmas Through the Red Door”
“Life Is A Cabaret – New Year’s Eve”
Waking Up to Christmas – Bedroom Decor
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Christmas 2012 – Red, Black & Silver
Checkered Christmas
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Sugar High Payback
Contemporary Christmas
Gentlemen’s Winter Retreat
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner
White Hot
Winter Brunch
Really Red Christmas

I am once again this week pleased and proud to join Susan and tablescapers from all over the world for Tablescape Thursday. After you check out my photos, feel free to slide on over to get more great tablescaping ideas!

Noel Progressive Dinner 2010

For the third consecutive year, four households on our cul-de-sac participated in a holiday progressive dinner. It’s a time for us to all get together before the hustle and bustle of the season gets us too wrapped up to wish one another good cheer. Ramon and I look forward to it each year.

This year another couple from the neighborhood joined our group to make it all the merrier. We began the evening at 5:30 for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, then on for salad, followed by the entree, and last – but never least! – dessert! We ended the evening with a few rousing games on the neighbor’s Wii. Much needed exercise after all that delicious food!!!

This post is also about opportunities to reuse decor items and ideas. Elements from two recent posts are freshened and incorporated for a whole new look on one table. Given the number of dinner parties we host, it sometimes makes sense to not try and reinvent the wheel…but to simply give it a facelift! I hope you are able to take away some ideas for your own use!

We started with tasty hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at Lynn & Barbara’s. Barbara always creates wonderful and imaginative treats, and this time was no exception!

After popping delicious hors d’oeuvres for an hour or so, we all trudged next door to our house for salad (graciously and lovingly prepared by neighbor Mary Ellen!), assorted soups (gumbo, chicken noodle and vegetable beef made by yours truly), and melt-in-your-mouth, buttery good rolls brought by our round-the-corner friends Carla and Jim.

Some of you may recognize some of the decor used for this table. With back-to-back dinner parties hosting different guests, it seemed prudent to recycle some of the decor with a twist to make it special. This meal, served in the living room, is set up on two 6-ft. tables pushed together horizontally to create a square that can comfortably seat up to ten guests.

 

The “Noel” theme was carried from the fireplace mantel onto the table with the addition of this velvety red ribbon tucked around each charger. (I recently employed this same technique using plain red satin ribbon around silver chargers. See “Celebrating the Season“.) Clear glass plates allow guests to see the ribbon before salad is served.

My much-loved, stiffly starched linen napkins were neatly folded and tucked into each place setting’s wine glass.

Also used in a previous post (“Roman Holiday“) was this chunky candle on a gold scrolled riser. Last week it was presented with just the candle. For this occasion, however, I tucked in the same greenery and berries found in the floral arrangements and on the mantel. This is a great way to create an instant centerpiece without having to use a ton of flowers!!!

Instead of the creamy white & gold Christmas tree toppers used in the “Roman Holiday” post, I subbed in elegant red & gold with scrolls that mimic the design on the floral containers.

I found this fun wine bottle decor at Pottery Barn a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t that typical? The lady is all dressed up in her finest diamonds and fur while the guy just kinda shows up in a casual holiday hat & scarf! 🙂

After stuffing ourselves at our house, we all miraculously still had room for dessert. So on to Bob & Jane’s for a fancy sweet treat to end the evening! What a fun night!!!

A few other Christmas tablescapes on this site include:
Celebrate the Season
Christmas in the Woods
“Kaleidoscope Christmas”
“Merry & Bright – Multi-Color Christmas”
“Christmas Through the Red Door”
“Life Is A Cabaret – New Year’s Eve”
Waking Up to Christmas – Bedroom Decor
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Christmas 2012 – Red, Black & Silver
Checkered Christmas
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Sugar High Payback
Contemporary Christmas
Gentlemen’s Winter Retreat
Woodland Men’s Tablescape
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner
White Hot
Winter Brunch
Really Red Christmas
Roman Holiday
Cardinal Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
March of the Penguins
Winter Cardinal
Ideas for Throwing a Winter Dessert Party
Christmas Fiesta
Over the River and Through the Woods
Black Friday Luncheon
Old-Fashioned Red & Green Christmas
Timberland Christmas
Christmas Coffee
Warm Metal Christmas
Let It Snow
Tuscan Holiday

I am delighted to join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. After peeking in on my photos, please feel free to wander on over to Susan’s place to see what other tablescapers around the world are up to!

Between Naps On The Porch

Roman Holiday

The Christmas season is in full swing now, and even though I’ve been feeling a bit under weather, the Nichols household was rockin’ last weekend!

I love intimate dinner parties, and we had a chance to host one this past week for which I really enjoyed the preparation process. Rich, sultry shades of gold mixed with hues of ivory and white with a little jolt of red here and there…one of my favorite holiday palettes! After 5:30 cocktails (a little earlier start than usual), the six of us sat down to a 4-course feast. Lively conversation took us into the late night hours.

  Back into the cozy confines of our dining room for this intimate dinner for six, I decided to do the flip of last week’s dinner party and go all gold & white.

 

I bought this American Atelier “Florentine Gold Scroll” china years ago and have had only a couple of occasions to use it even though I love the design. (See this china used in a stunningly different tablescape HERE.) This table was set with the dinner plate and soup bowl only atop a gold braided-edge charger. (I took these photos late. The salad plates were chilling in the freezer!) All the brilliant gold had a chance to really shine against the solid white table linen. My favorite favor – boxes of Godiva chocolates – fit right in!

Keeping with the gold and scroll themes, I used goldplated flatware with a swirled design. The magnificent drinking glasses are part of a set my Mother purchased while on a trip to New York back in the 1970s. I always admired the set and am particularly drawn to the Roman soldiers on each. I have never set a table with these until now, but thought no others would do. The intricate gold design just seemed to demand its place on the table!

I am almost ashamed to admit how little I paid for these pretty napkin rings, especially since they are so closely hugging my gorgeous linen napkins. Truth be told: $1 each at Old Time Pottery. Shameful!!! 🙂 Again, their design elements just seemed the perfect match for this table.

I bought scads of these cool gold mercury glass votive holders at Village Gardens in Blue Springs, MO. They emit such a fabulous glow!

My centerpiece floral contains many of the same elements as last week’s post because I have TONS of this fresh seeded eucalyptus hanging out in my garage!!! The gold scrolled floral container is a perfect match for the china. A fat 3-wick candle perches atop another scrolled vase turned upside down.

Other gold elements on the table include elegantly embellished tree toppers in coordinating designs and these fanciful reindeer candleholders I purchased years ago at a wholesale outlet.

The sconces in the room got a holiday treatment of fresh greenery, berries and the same gold mercury glass votive holders.

The buffet was decked out in florals similar to the one on the table, reindeer, frosty white ornaments, and lots of candles in brass candlesticks.

The matching water pitcher! While it doesn’t hold a lot of liquid, it sure is pretty!

A few other Christmas tablescapes on this site include:
Celebrate the Season
Christmas in the Woods
“Kaleidoscope Christmas”
“Merry & Bright – Multi-Color Christmas”
“Christmas Through the Red Door”
“Life Is A Cabaret – New Year’s Eve”
Waking Up to Christmas – Bedroom Decor
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Christmas 2012 – Red, Black & Silver
Checkered Christmas
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Sugar High Payback
Contemporary Christmas
Gentlemen’s Winter Retreat
Woodland Men’s Tablescape
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner
White Hot
Winter Brunch
Really Red Christmas
Roman Holiday
Cardinal Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
March of the Penguins
Winter Cardinal
Ideas for Throwing a Winter Dessert Party
Christmas Fiesta
Over the River and Through the Woods
Black Friday Luncheon
Noel Progressive Dinner
Old-Fashioned Red & Green Christmas
Timberland Christmas
Christmas Coffee
Warm Metal Christmas
Let It Snow
Tuscan Holiday

  I am thrilled to join Susan and all the other tablescapers at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday! You’re invited to hop on over to check out other fabulous holiday designs!!!

Between Naps On The Porch

Celebrate the Season

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to see the (politically correct here) Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/etc. season finally arrive. I have had my fill of pumpkins for this year, and I’m ready for shiny and bright! Thankfully, we have a number of Christmas parties planned here at home for which I can pull out all the decorating stops…or show restraint. (Yeah, right! That’ll happen! 🙂 ) The master plan is to make each one unique in style, content, and color scheme. We’ll see how that works out since I am so partial to red during the holiday season!

This first party of the 2010 Christmas season came right on the heels of Thanksgiving which didn’t allow for a lot of prep time. I had to think fast on my feet! Mercifully, the long tables were already in the living room, Ramon hustled to finish the outdoor lighting (all red, of course!), and the house was already clean. To further maintain my sanity, I opted to share cooking duties with a favorite caterer. Our garage has morphed into a floral cooler (!!!), so lots of fresh greenery there to grab and arrange at a moment’s notice. (I don’t even want to discuss the bad “haircut” our porch evergreens got in the name of floral design for the small arrangements! 😩 ) At any rate, this dinner party kicked the season off with a bang!

Try as I may to avoid it, red makes its way into almost every holiday setting I create. Icy silver and white play host here to fiery red on a table set for 12.

Muted silver square chargers (Old Time Pottery) with rounded edges anchor the place setting. A rounded-edge square B. Smith with Style plate in frosty white is then topped with a crisp white dinner napkin encircled with a red & silver ring to keep the napkin from disappearing into the plate. Godinger crystal stemware from the “Chelsea” collection and Hampton Silversmiths “Patriot” flatware round out the setting.

 A simple length of satiny red ribbon is tucked around the charger to give the illusion of a “gift” and to add a little color.

This photo was taken a bit later in the evening, but I think it shows how beautifully the crisp white shows up to the darkness. It, like the tablecloth, reminds me of snow!

I wanted to add a bit more red and introduce something a little fun to the table. I settled on these beautiful Christmas cards from Pier 1.

Inside each card was the evening’s menu embellished with a similar design! I’ll probably use this tactic a lot this season. It’s a great way to use the cards that I’ll most likely never get around to sending out! 🙂

I have 3 of these lovely silver epergnes, and liked the way they looked like pretty soldiers lining the center of the table! I just find seeded eucalyptus to be one of the easiest greens in the world to work with at Christmas time, so you’ll see a lot of it in my arrangements throughout the season. It drapes so beautifully and is so graceful. The greenish-grey color is wonderful, too, and it stands up nicely against the darker evergreens. My favorite filler, leucadendron, makes another appearance here along with bright red berries.

Tiny crystal vases hold snippets of seeded eucalyptus, evergreens, and cheerful red berries.

The fireplace mantel is all decked in a variety of greenery dotted with red berries. (Fresh seeded eucalyptus and other greens will last the entire evening without water OR you can insert the ends into water tubes.) Reflective silver candlesticks topped with pillar candles and mercury balls dance through the foliage. The whole image is doubled back in the mirror which makes it look even more lush.

‘Tis the season!

A few other Christmas tablescapes on this site include:
Christmas in the Woods
“Kaleidoscope Christmas”
“Merry & Bright – Multi-Color Christmas”
“Christmas Through the Red Door”
“Life Is A Cabaret – New Year’s Eve”
Waking Up to Christmas – Bedroom Decor
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Christmas 2012 – Red, Black & Silver
Checkered Christmas
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Sugar High Payback
Contemporary Christmas
Gentlemen’s Winter Retreat
Woodland Men’s Tablescape
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner
White Hot
Winter Brunch
Really Red Christmas
Roman Holiday
Cardinal Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
March of the Penguins
Winter Cardinal
Ideas for Throwing a Winter Dessert Party
Christmas Fiesta
Over the River and Through the Woods
Black Friday Luncheon
Noel Progressive Dinner
Old-Fashioned Red & Green Christmas
Timberland Christmas
Christmas Coffee
Warm Metal Christmas

I’m thrilled to join Susan for Tablescape Thursdays. After clicking on the “Winter” tab above to view my photos, feel free to head on over and visit the other talented men and women there!

Thanksgiving 2010

This time last year was difficult at best as my son struggled to recover from yet another major surgery precipitated by yet another bout with Crohn’s Disease. He was temporarily sprung from the hospital to enjoy the day with us, but he was unable to partake of the meal. Instead he received nourishment from the portable I.V. strapped on like a backpack. He took it like a champ. This year, although still not quite 100%, he is able to eat, eat, eat!!! I have prepared his favorite pecan pie just for him!

 

The “grownups” table for 12 set up in our living room has a little glitz and glam going for it. A seasonal rich chocolate brown table linen anchors the setting.
To offset the deep brown and add sparkle, I used lots of cut crystal that was sure to reflect the tiniest bit of light. Two crystal epergnes with gold trim are the crown jewels of the table. (Scroll further down this page to “Shake Your Tail Feather” to see this epergne used in a different tablescape, or click HERE to see it in a Christmas tablescape.)
The flowers in each of epergne include scads of seeded eucalyptus mixed with orange carnations and deep burgundy leucadendron. I opted for ivory metal case candles to avoid drips on the linens.
The smaller arrangements on this table are in cut crystal rose bowls with a pattern similar to that of the epergnes. Added to these arrangements are sprigs of russet-colored alstroemeria.
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A patterned gold charger and ivory dinner plate are topped with rich chocolate napkins in a traditional fold. I gilded a handful of leaves (Lord knows there are plenty around to pick up!) and added an ivory mini pumpkin to plop on top. The leaves and pumpkins are repeated at intervals down the length of the table.
Longchamps crystal stemware again mimics the pattern of the floral vessels. Faux mother-of-pearl handled flatware completes the place setting.
I scaled back a bit on the amount of food this year, but I don’t think the menu disappoints. There’s a little something for everyone! The quote on each menu is from a book my husband received as a gift called “Gratitude”.
 
 
 The fireplace mantel receives a lightweight treatment of Longchamps crystal mini vases filled with the same flowers as I used on the table. An array of shiny gold-colored candlesticks with ivory candles (watching them like a hawk!!!) fills out the arrangement.
The children’s table is not so fancy. It’s mostly about utility here, with a shot of “ooh wee!” tossed in by way of the centerpiece. A simple ivory linen is topped with a fun runner.
Each child’s place setting consists of a pumpkin-colored melamine dinner plate topped with a colorful floral paper napkin. Everyday stemware and flatware round it out. (I want the kids to learn to use stemware as opposed to regular glasses. I don’t worry so much about breakage when I use these relatively inexpensive everyday stems.)
 
 
The centerpiece has all the same flowers as on the adults’ dining table presented in a wooden & metal planter. The floral arrangement is flanked by two metal treasure chests spilling over with apples and grapes. The framed menu is for the benefit of the lucky adult who draws the short straw and gets babysitting duty! 🙂

I wish for each of you a safe, happy, loving and warm Thanksgiving holiday!