Woodland Men’s Christmas Tablescape

INSPIRATION: Fleece fabric found at Hobby Lobby

INSPIRATION: Fleece fabric found at Hobby Lobby

We’re getting so close to Christmas, and I just had to get this masculine tablescape in! This tablescape filled with organic elements is another of the tables created for my Winter 2013 “Art of Tablescaping” class taught through MCC-Longview in Lee’s Summit, MO.
(Click on any photo, then click again to enlarge/enhance it and see up close details.)

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Full room from front entryOur library is to the left just as you enter the house. It’s kind of dark and moody with lots of wood elements, just the perfect location for a guys’ informal dinner gathering.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Full tableThis table for 5 starts with a 108″ round white tablecloth from LinenTablecloth.com and is topped with this great piece of fleece fabric found at Hobby Lobby last year. The motif suggests the wilderness and hunting and Christmas all at once. While I didn’t have it at the time I created this tablescape, a third fabric layer of a jute tablecloth between the white and fleece would have worked out really great!

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Place settingMen kind of like it to the point, so I started with a wood slab charger and topped it with a plain white Corelle dinner plate. You can buy wooden chargers from the Internet or places like Z Gallerie, but this option is less expensive and just as workable: it’s a natural wood slice from the wood crafts department at Michael’s priced at just $10 which becomes just $6 when you arm yourself with a 40% off coupon! That’s quite a bargain compared to the $91.80 for a set of 4 at Z Gallerie!!! I love Z Gallerie, but c’mon!!! I’ve also seen these at places like Hobby Lobby and Jo-Ann’s.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Flatware, Stemware, Napkin & Favor collageThe flatware is Hampton Silvermith’s “Patriot” and the clear glass pilsner is from Tuesday Morning‘s clearance section this past Spring. Now let’s talk about this favor/Christmas gift at each place setting! Guys may or may not take to the notion of a little gift, but if it’s something that doesn’t challenge their manhood in any way, they’ll probably be OK with it. Here I have wrapped in plain brown paper a small Swiss Army pocket knife. That’s a pretty manly gift, right? The package is simply tied with twine with a crudely hewn tamarind tree pencil as a little somethin’-somethin’ extra. (They can throw it in their toolbox and use it for marking measurements!) I bought these pencils at TJ Maxx.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Full centerpiece

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Centerpiece vases, burlap votives, antlers collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Sled, greenery, burlap votive collageI wanted to bring lots of rustic elements into the centerpiece. I started with 3 bark-wrapped vases, one filled with snow-kissed pine, one with pine cones, and one with fresh green moss that gives off that terrific woodsy scent. I added a pair of antlers, a miniature replica of a crudely crafted sled, and a few burlap-wrapped votive candles.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Christmas tree

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Gifts, owl in tree, twine ribbon collageI have always wanted to do a rustic-looking Christmas tree but never tried until now. I didn’t want my first turn at it to prove a disaster, so I kept it very sparse. (Look out next year, though! I’m goin’ for broke!!!) This 4-ft. tree is adorned only with white lights, burlap (Hobby Lobby), hardware store twine twisted into ribbons, and a few wide-eyed owls peeping out from the branches. The packages beneath the tree have the same wrapping paper as the favors on the table, are all tied up in twine, and dressed up a little with ornaments.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Tub of pine cones, owl collageOn the secretary next to the tree is an aluminum tub filled with pine cones being visited by a woodland friend who just flew in from Home Goods. 🙂

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Top of secretary collageThe top of the old secretary has a tiny forest of trees in vases made of birch bark. A lone burlap-swathed stag (Home Goods) stands among the trees.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Side table

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Beer, burlap wreath, pocket knife collageA side table holds the pitcher of beer for the guys atop two wood slabs. A burlap wreath created by internationally acclaimed floral designer Kelly Acock of the Monarch Flower Company is the backdrop. I added just for fun this cool Swiss Army-style camping tool that belonged to my late father-in-law, an avid outdoorsman.

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Reindeer wreath, owl on sled collage

Tablescapes at Table Twenty-One, Woodland Men's Christmas Tablescape: Leather chair with side tableLast, a comfortable leather chair to kick back in after dinner.

This tablescape would work great for the “civilized” part of a modern day bachelor party where guys mostly just want to get together to eat, have a few drinks, and good-naturedly mourn the death of bachelorhood. 😉

To see another masculine tablescape on this site:
After the Hunt – Gentlemen’s Winter Retreat

To see other winter/Christmas-related tablescapes on this site:
Christmas Fiesta
Kaleidoscope Christmas – Multi-Color Kids’ Tablescape
Merry & Bright – Multi-Color Christmas
Christmas Through the Red Door
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Black Friday Luncheon Tablescape
Winter Dinner
Contemporary Christmas: Fire & Ice
Celebrating the Season
Sugar High Payback
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Checkered Christmas – A Snowman Theme
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner 2011
Black, White & Red All Over Christmas
Frosty the Snowman
Warm Metal Christmas
Winter Brunch
plus NINE additional posts on a single page under the “WINTER” tab!!!

I’ll be joining Cuisine Kathleen for her weekly blog party “Let’s Dish!” on Wednesday after 6:00 p.m. CST and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” on Thursday anytime after 9:00 a.m. CST. Join me for lots of great ideas from tablescapers all around the world!

Black, White & Red All Over Christmas Tablescape

I am all over the snowmen and glass cylinders this year! I pulled them out for “Winter Wonderland”  tablescaping class demonstrations and they never made it back into storage. Even after classes were over, they became a part of our Christmas 2012 decor.

Last week I posted “Checkered Christmas“, a table for four in the library in which I used a squatty clear glass cylinder to display a jaunty snowman for the centerpiece. This week, I am taking that concept a step further with another black, red & white tablescape that uses the same snowmen and lots of the different sized cylinders that are so versatile year round. Well, just take a look and see for yourself!
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it.
Photos by Sheri L. Grant and Alycia Nichols)

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IMG_9837WMThis black, white & red table starts with two 6-ft. oblong tables kissed together vertically to create a luxuriously long Tuscan-style table for 12. Cheery red floor-length tablecloths from LinenTablecloth.com yield that instantaneous holiday vibe. Note how cool the place settings look all lined up like Christmas nutcrackers! Holiday tablescaping is about whimsy and fantasy, so think about incorporating artistic touches hat will convey the magic of the season.

IMG_9817WMLast week’s table in the library featured round white chargers with black dinner plates. This week’s version flips the script with square black chargers and white dinner plates. The black against the expanse of red makes for a pretty dramatic look.

Napkin collageThe next bit of drama is introduced via the napkin. A simple black napkin is folded twice lengthwise and a length of wide red satin ribbon placed on top. I then looped a small red ornament onto a length of thin satin ribbon and tied it around the napkin to give it a cinched waist look. Tuck the ends beneath the plate and add a sprig of snow-frosted pine greenery to finish the look. The simple and inexpensive step of adding the holiday ornamentation and cinching the napkin kept the table from taking on a decidedly Asian-inspired look.

Flatware & menu collageLast week I liked the checkered pattern brought to the table via the linen and the snowmen’s scarves. This week, however, I kept the pattern a bit more subtle by creating a menu on my home computer with a black & white checkered backing. Using a ribbon hole punch that creates two evenly spaced vertical holes for threading, I tied it all together with a piece of thin red ribbon to complement the napkin treatment. Menus are a cost-effective (approximately 20Âą per menu including cost of colored ink) and easy way to not only let guests know what’s for dinner, but to give them something to take home as a memento of the evening. They are also a way to bring additional color and/or pattern to the table.

Sleek and simple Hampton Silversmith “Patriot – Mirror” flatware is used because of the squared off handle that works well with the square of the charger and dinner plate.

IMG_9517WMAs with last week’s tablescape, simple clear glass stemware from Old Time Pottery is used. Stemware needn’t always be expensive to look good!

Centerpiece cylinder collageThe same squatty glass cylinder used on last week’s table appears here, and this time he’s brought his posse! 🙂 Two smaller, thinner cylinders and two tall, slender ones have snowmen inside on a cloud of snow. The amount of pine greenery in each depends on the cylinder size. The small ones have a mere sprig of greenery, while the squatty original still has a long branch curled around the base inside. The tall ones are outfitted with long, full branches in an upright position. All are brightened with a few size-appropriate red ornaments. Lots of votive holders in a shape similar to that of the cylinders dot the table.

Ornament and snowman collageNote the black & white checkered scarf that mimics the design of the menus. On each end of the table is yet another small, squatty cylinder filled simply with “snow” and a cluster of shiny red ornaments. These complement the snowman cylinders without matching them to the letter.

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Fireplace & mantel collageThis is how the mantel looked before I decked it all out with bling and greenery for our personal Christmas decor. More streamlined, simple. Oversized red Christmas balls are placed on each end atop short black wrought iron stands. Smaller ornaments on stands and on the mantel are placed in between with a few votives. On the hearth are two rustic Z Gallerie black hurricane lanterns filled with assorted sizes of red ornaments.

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Tree collageA stovepipe hat tree topper works perfectly with the snowmen on the table! This was just for my tablescaping class. I later added more ornaments and a few snowmen to the tree for our personal decor which will stay up until January.

So…there you have it! A variation on a snowman theme! Many of the elements for a round and intimate table for 4 tweaked to create a long and lush table for 12. Kinda like Burger King, y’all…have it your way! 🙂

For more Christmas tablescapes on this site:
Checkered Christmas
Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas
Sugar High Payback
Contemporary Christmas
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
Get Me To the Church On Time
Christmas Progressive Dinner
White Hot
Winter Brunch
plus NINE other tables on one page under the WINTER tab including “Frosty the Snowman” which demonstrates another fun way to use these snowmen!!!

If you would like to see another way to make glass cylinders really come to life on a table, check out the “Wedding” page. Scroll down to the 3rd post called “Love & Orchids“, and you’ll see how a variety of sizes are used.

I am happily skipping along to Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” on Wednesday (anytime after 6:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday) and Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” (anytime after 9:00 a.m. CST on Thursday). Join me! My blog buddies can really rock some holiday tablescapes!!!

Pink & Purple Chocolate Christmas Tablescape

I was tickled when the folks over at iVillage asked me to submit a holiday tablescape for their rockin’ site. When I checked the feature out this morning I saw that I was in very good company with bloggers like Mary from “Home Is Where the Boat Is” and Laura from “Our Prairie Home“. I was also introduced to a few bloggers with whom I was previously unfamiliar, so hooray! 😉 (If you’ve never visited iVillage, you might want to. It’s pretty awesome. SO much information about home & garden, great food, health & beauty…everything for women who want to be in the know!) Thank you, iVillage!

The photo I submitted was of an unpublished Christmas tablescape, so since it’s out there now I figured I’d go ahead and give you the whole package. This is another tablescape created for my recent “Tablescaping a Winter Wonderland” class through MCC at Longview. It would be a great table for a “tweener” or teen Christmas party for girls who still enjoy whimsy but feel more grown up when you add certain special touches. And as my friend Delia pointed out, this tablescape would also work really well for a winter baby shower!
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge. Photos by Sheri L. Grant.)

While pastel pink and purple are not “traditional” Christmas colors per se, they somehow work when visions of sugarplums, cookies and candies dance in your head. A snowy blanket of white linen covers the table from head to toe as a base for the bubblegum colors.

Each place setting begins with a lavender acrylic charger from Michael’s Craft Store. A plain white Corelle dinner plate is separated from the lacy white Pier 1 plate with a shot of pastel pink found in the napkin. The bon-bon topped cupcake is the final ingredient to create this pink, purple and chocolate Christmas setting. The silver flatware is very dressy…one of those “grown up” touches to keep the look from becoming too cutesy for teens and tweeners. No menus used. They’re teens, so you can just text them! 😉

Delicately etched pink stemware is another grown-up touch.

These “sugary” pink, purple, chocolate & white figurines picked up at 75% off at Burlington‘s end-of-season sale last year were the inspiration for the table. The sparkly finish on them makes them shimmer in the light.

I am a forever fan of using food to help fill in a centerpiece. Not only does it look and smell great, but it adds color, texture and shape. Because everything is edible, that’s money saved! (Some of the food presented here is faux for class purposes.) I like to present food at varied levels on assorted trays, plates and bowls, and you simply can’t go wrong with glass stands! A little more color and shine is brought down to the base level of the table with pastel pink and silver ornaments.

The buffet behind the dining table wholly subscribes to my philosophy of “Go big, or go home.” An oversized sleigh draped in silver bead garland (also used HERE) rests on a bed of cottony snow, filled with shimmering gifts in the prevailing colors of pink, purple and silver. More sweets and ornaments are displayed in glass stands and jars. Additional tree figurines stand guard over a shimmering silver basket of neatly wrapped gifts.

The tea cart stands ready to serve more beverages in these cute glass tumblers striped in pink, purple & white found at TJ Maxx for just $1 each on clearance. Paper napkins in the same colors are laid out for dessert. A glass apothecary jar holds a pouf of “snow” topped with a pale pink LED candle and a few random ornaments.

More apothecary jars filled with snow, ornaments, and LED candles sit atop the china cabinet.

 


Sheri videotaped the room in its entirety to give you a little better perspective of the layout.  Just turn your volume down; otherwise you’ll hear me in the background running around getting ready for students to arrive! 🙂

For more teen/tweener-friendly Christmas tablescapes on this site, check out:
Sugar High – Payback!
Frosty the Snowman
March of the Penguins

For more Christmas posts on this site:
Cranberry Christmas
Cranberry Christmas Squared
White Hot
Winter Brunch
Christmas Progressive Dinner
Get Me To the Church On Time
Winter Cardinal
AND
check out NINE other posts all on the “Winter” page!

Join me if you will this week at Susan’s place for “Tablescape Thursday” anytime after 9:00 a.m. CST and at the Style Sisters’ place for Centerpiece Wednesday. There are a lot of bloggers out there with terrific ideas for the holidays!

Halloween Tablescape – Ravenous Raven Graveyard Feast

This is another table from my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class through Longview Community College. I wanted the students to really feel the atmosphere, so I went a little overboard. They say, “The devil’s in the details,” and I guess there’s no better time than Halloween to let the devil do his thing!

Watch this short video (shaky a la “Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity”) if you want to really get a feel for the sights & sounds my students experienced: doors creaking, wind blowing, bones crunching, strobe lights flashing, and spine tingling screams…or as I like to call it, “Just Another Tuesday Night at the Nichols Household!”
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos and video by Sheri L. Grant.)

It’s cool. Is this not a face you can trust? 🙂 C’mon in!

At the front door to greet students was a behemoth python (Spirit Halloween) with his steroid-enhanced spider minions. I trained an uplight from across the room onto the vignette to lend a spooky effect. Tip: Whenever you want something to look spooky, just uplight it like they do in the movies!

Students were warned not to venture upstairs where I’d be unable to protect them from the evil that lurked beyond the yellow tape. (My unmade bed and several baskets of dirty laundry! ;-))You could almost hear the stealthy footsteps of the (Dollar Tree) rats as they crept along. (One student – I don’t want to put her on blast, but it was wedding planner Precious Whitmore 😉 – almost lost her lunch when she saw this area. She is terrified by rats…even fake ones!!!)

 The foyer table just beneath the stairwell is quietly aglow with an uplit pumpkin on a black urn and a few LED candles. I used LED candles throughout for safety’s sake.

Are you ready to step into the graveyard to be eaten for dinner?

The dining room table is shrouded in a full-length black linen (LinenTablecloth.com) to give the appearance of the items on top just kind of floating in the relative darkness.

Plates depicting a raven perched in graveyard branches were purchased at our local Hy-Vee grocery store. They were the inspiration for the room’s overall theme.

I used plain clear glass stemware from Old Time Pottery. The flatware is Hampton Silversmiths “San Remo” stainless which in this context takes on a sort of Gothic look. The black & white floral napkins (Stein Mart) adopt a decidedly spookier look when rolled and secured with the spiked napkin ring. The Dollar Tree napkin rings are actually those popular slap on bracelets. These would be really fun as a dual purpose napkin ring/favor for guests! Tip: Stretch your dollars by incorporating favors into the decor!

I had fun creating these menus. The backing is sparkly black paper from Michael’s craft store. I secured the printed page onto the backing with a black brad from Hobby Lobby.

A headstone marks the grave place setting of each guest. You might use gray duct tape upon which to write the names of each victim guest and affix it to the headstone to create a place card. (If you want to really personalize your headstone place cards, click HERE for my good friend and floral guru Kelly Acock’s step-by-step instructions.)

The main part of the centerpiece is this gnarly manzanita branch structure from Gordman’s. It’s big but guests can still see one another. Lurking in the branches are vicious snakes and surly ravens, both from Dollar Tree.

This place is just crawling with bugs…literally! (Dollar Tree) Maggots have transformed into flies that crawl upon the mossy earth around the headstones and beneath the trees.

I wanted to use something of a floral nature that would still be kind of dark and morose. This blood red faux boxwood seemed to do the trick in a black glass vase.

A delightful Halloween buffet awaits. Come and get it…if you dare!

Start your meal with an appetizer of assorted finger foods. Move on down the buffet line to a tasty Silence of the Lambs-inspired liver & fava bean salad. You have your pick of entrées including a ghoulishly gastronomical delight of brains with death cap mushrooms picked from our very own yard. Bwahahahahaha! (Entrails and severed body parts all from Dollar Tree.)

These tasty morsels may look like calamari at first glance, but they’re actually shrunken & skeletonized hands freshly plucked from unmarked graves. Notice the lovely tarnish on the silver.

When we say “fresh”, we mean fresh!!! The blood has barely begun to coagulate on another enticing entrĂ©e called “Nevermore Hand Hash.” Enjoy the crunchy goodness of bone casserole served with slithering snakes. And for dessert: lovely lady fingers, of course! Once again, take notice of the tarnished silver. (It took incredible restraint to let all of these silver pieces tarnish like this in anticipation of using them for Halloween!!!!!) Tip: The Dollar Tree “blood” is fun to work with, but it WILL STAIN WOOD FINISHES!!!!!!!!!! I found this out the hard way! 😩

A lot of the food is still alive when served, and chasing it down really works up a thirst. Quench that thirst and wash down your meal with one of our mellow libations. (Libation labels from Spirit Halloween.)

I created this spooky Halloween “tree” using a fallen limb from our yard augmented with several curly willow branches tied in with a virtually undetectable dark-colored wired jute. I secured the branches under dark river stones in a black urn that I sat on a box (disguised by a black linen) to lend a bit more height. The votive hangers were hand-fashioned from a medium gauge floral wire. Once again, LED candles are used to be safe around the dry wood. I finished the arrangement off with mounds of Spanish moss.

Beneath the tree in true spooky graveyard fashion are miscellaneous bones, a skull, and runaway eyeballs.

Thick blood pours from lighted skulls on the decorative sconces.

I gave chairs a ghostly look by covering them with oblong table linens. The same effect can be achieved with queen- or king-sized bed sheets.

The top of the china cabinet is decorated with moss- and lichen-covered branches.

As usual, Geoffrey insisted on joining the fun! Masquerading as the Angel of Death, I barely recognized him! 😉

Other Halloween tablescapes on this site:
Serpents & Skullduggery
Hollywood Fright Night
It’s the Great Pumpkin!

I’m joining the following blog parties in the coming week:
♠ The Tablescaper’s “Seasonal Sunday
♠ Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” (Wednesday after 6:00 p.m. CDT)
♠ The Style Sisters’ “Centerpiece Wednesday” (Wednesday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)
♠ Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” (Thursday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)
♠ Yvonne’s “Tips, Tidbits & Tutorials” (Thursday after 9:00 a.m. CDT)

Casual Fall Harvest Dinner Tablescape

Tonight is the final night of my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” classes. Starting tomorrow I will  leave autumn behind and start the task of building Christmas (yes, I said CHRISTMAS…already!!!) tablescapes throughout the house in anticipation of the next class series, “Tablescaping a Winter Wonderland“. I will have just two short weeks to convert the straw bales and pumpkins of fall into holiday wonderment. Yikes!!!

In last week’s class I demonstrated to my students how the same table linens from my September Harvest Breakfast Tablescape could take on a whole new look for a fall dinner with the simple addition of another layer and some accessory changes.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos by Sheri L. Grant.)

Last week’s harvest table used the same hunter green full-length linen topped with soft burlap. The addition of a third layer – an autumnal quilt created by my talented friend and neighbor, Barbara – creates a wonderful, rich sense of seasonal coziness as well as an American homespun feel. Layered linens are a great way to add color, pattern and texture to your tablescape.

A deep rust-colored metal charger (Tuesday Morning) is topped with a pumpkin dinner plate that I found at a Price Chopper grocery store at 103rd & State Line in Kansas City, MO. To break up the saturation of dark colors that would essentially make the places settings disappear into the quilt, an ivory salad plate (T.J. Maxx) with a raised pattern rim is used. The bowl, also from Price Chopper, is deep enough to hold the heartiest of soups on a chilly fall evening. Notice how the colors in the linens are mirrored in the place settings.

The two-tone cotton napkin (also seen here in “September Wine” and here in “Pears & Pinecones“) is folded to allow both colors to show and to mimic the triangular shapes in the quilt topper. Little details like this are not necessarily something your guests will notice, but it is a subconscious draw.

Smoky brown stemware (Old Time Pottery) picks up the deep brown in the quilt, and a simple flatware pattern, Hampton Silversmith “Patriot-Mirror”, complements the setting.

A pair of rustic pine cone-topped lanterns with pumpkin-colored candles are visually connected by a trail of pine cones and pears. Using seasonal fruit as a part of harvest table decor is a natural and inexpensive way to work with the theme. (Don’t forget to freeze those pine cones first to kill off any hidden critters!)

Try to imagine this table set up outside on a patio or deck. Can’t you just imagine this harvest vignette in a nearby corner or near the buffet table? Extending the theme of your dining table to an adjacent area really gets guests in the mood! Our weather conditions (wind mostly) here in the Kansas City, MO area last week wouldn’t allow me to set this demonstration table up outdoors, but I sure wish I could have!

This Children of the Corn-looking scarecrow freaked me out a little at first, but he seemed to just fit in somehow! 🙂 (Nonetheless, I keep him locked in a closet on the lower level! Look at that psychopathic/serial killer/eat-your-liver-with-a-side-of-fava-beans-and-a-nice-chianti look on his face!)

Click on these links for more autumn tablescapes on this site:
Autumn
September Wine
September Harvest Breakfast
Autumn Blues
Serape High Style
Wondrous Wheat
Pheasants & Peacocks
Pumpkins & Peacocks

I am pleased to join Cuisine Kathleen for “Let’s Dish!” starting Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. CDT and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” starting at 9:00 a.m. CDT on Thursday. If you love looking at creative, inspiring tablescapes, you’ll love these blog parties! Join me, won’t you?

September Harvest Breakfast Tablescape

Since I began teaching my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class last week, I am suddenly in the mood for everything fall. Never mind that the cooled temperatures and shift in barometric pressure have my arthritis jacked up to full throttle. The leaves are starting to turn, the nights are ripe for snuggling, and the mornings are just beautiful!

I created one of two harvest-inspired tables for the first night of class with hopes of getting my students fired up about the season, too. I’m joining Cuisine Kathleen’s “Let’s Dish!” Harvest Theme Tablescape Challenge this week, so if you want to really get inspired to store away those pool inflatables and flip-flops in exchange for soft sweaters and penny loafers (I’m an old Catholic school girl…loafers = fall to me!), be sure to pop over there anytime after 6:00 p.m. CDT on Wednesday.
(Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos by Sheri L. Grant.)

Ideally this table would be set up outdoors, but for class purposes (and because the winds were gusting up around 25mph!) I set up inside with the morning sun streaming in through the windows. The table is dressed in a hunter green full-length linen (LinenTablecloth.com) and topped with supple wheat-colored burlap. Layering linens in fall and winter reminds me of how we dress ourselves in those seasons…it’s cozy and warm!

A little something different for a charger are these fun faux cast iron skillets from Old Time Pottery. Each skillet came with one of four harvest designs that I allowed to show through by using clear glass plates. I added a bow of twine to the gingham ribbon embellishment (more layering) that plays well off the burlap topper.

The simple lines of Hampton Silversmith “Patriot-Mirror” flatware work nicely next to the busy floral pattern of the Stein Mart cotton napkin.

I love to use different drinking vessels whenever possible, and the design of a Ball Mason jar – in purpose and motif – really embodies the harvest theme. If dining outdoors (as this table is designed for), the lid helps keep the proliferation of bees attendant to the month of September from honing in on your morning juice! The miniature milk bottle with an old-fashioned metal clasp (Hobby Lobby) is perfect for individual servings of plain or flavored milk…something kids in particular would really like! (Old kids like me would love it for its nostalgic value!)

For breakfast tables I like to keep the centerpiece a bit less fussy. Here an old-fashioned moonshine jug (yes, I said moonshine! :-)) embellished with jute twine and filled with a wave of blackbeard wheat creates height for the extended centerpiece. A profusion of pumpkins in various colors and sizes mixed with pine cones wind their way down the center of the table. A chalkboard cow posts the morning menu. The absence of flowers – using wheat and seasonal fruits instead – makes this a great budget idea!

I can’t help myself. You know this would not be an Alycia creation without one of our faithful valets! Here, “Cecil” (British pronunciation of SEH-cil, of course!) wades through a mound of fall leaves on his way back from picking a few pumpkins and root vegetables from the garden. In stark contrast to his very proper uniform, Cecil has donned a saucy straw gardening hat to protect his fair English skin from damaging sun rays. 🙂

On the breakfast bar, a melange of seasonal squashes & pumpkins are visually connected by a bittersweet vine. Seasonal fruits are displayed in various baskets and a tiered stand. Napkin-lined baskets of assorted baked goods to enjoy with a steaming hot cup of Joe suggest what the wheat might produce. Miniature straw bales provide varied height for the display. (P.S. For those of you with open concept kitchen/family room areas, a display like this is a sneaky practical & attractive way to partially block the mess in the kitchen as you scurry around preparing the meal!)

Other posts on this site that are great for harvest celebrations:
“September Wine”
“Wondrous Wheat”
…and be sure to check out other great seasonal tables on the “Autumn” page

In addition to the blog party at “Let’s Dish!”, I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for “Tablescape Thursday” again this week. Hope to see you there!

HAPPY FALL, EVERYONE!!!

Football Tablescape – Kansas City Chiefs in the Red Zone

Even if you aren’t a Chiefs fan (insert disdainful, incredulous sniff ;-)),
this tablescape has lots of fun decor ideas!

I wasn’t going to post this football tablescape until later in the season, but I was SO proud of my Kansas City Chiefs‘ comeback victory yesterday that I just feel compelled! The Chiefs put a smackdown on the New Orleans Saints, winning it 27-24 in overtime.

As a part of my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class series last week, I created a football tablescape in honor of the Chiefs. I worked for the organization about 25 years and 50 pounds ago, and as an 11-year-old I cheered them to victory in the Super Bowl (January 11, 1970 against the Minnesota Vikings). I am now, and will always be even in the bad times, a lifelong fan and avid “television tailgater.” Kansas City is known for its legendary tailgating in the parking lot of  beautiful Arrowhead Stadium before home games. Those of us who watch the game from home get in on the action in our own way. Here’s my version of “television tailgating” with friends in front of the big screen.
(Click on any photo to enlarge/enhance it.
Photos by Sheri L. Grant except where noted.)

When guests come to help us cheer the Chiefs on to victory, I like to create an entire atmosphere using team colors (red, gold & white) and memorabilia. This table, set up on the lower level in front of the big screen TV, is dressed in a full-length white linen and topped with red to represent that awesome sea of red at Arrowhead Stadium during Chiefs home games.

I found these fun gridiron placemats at Old Time Pottery a couple of years ago. Given the saturation of deep colors on the table, I used a white ceramic charger (Old Time Pottery) to break up the color a bit. Mustard gold earthenware from Pier 1 completes the setting.

I created fun football place cards using these pre-painted wooden footballs I found at Hobby Lobby for around $.59 each. While I marked directly on them with permanent marker, you might consider using a little tape like the players wrap their hands with so that the footballs can be reused.

Mustard gold cotton napkins from Bed Bath & Beyond are folded to resemble penalty flags. The “napkin rings” are actually inexpensive wristbands purchased at Party City. The wristbands can go home with guests as a party favor after the game!

I considered trying to color the “red zone” (the area between the 20-yard line and the goal line for those of you who may not follow football) with paint or fabric, but neither of those ideas worked. Instead I placed a miniature Chiefs pendant there, making sure it actually extended a bit over the goal line to resemble a touchdown. 🙂 I chose the flatware based on the pattern at the bottom of the handle which resembles the laces on a football. (Tiny detail, yes, but that’s what theme tablescaping is all about! The devil is in the details, man!)

These beer pilsners are called “Fantasy” and were manufactured by the Federal Glass Co. back in the mid 1950s, which makes them vintage for sure and halfway to antique (like me!) 🙂 My Mom recently gave them to me, and I chose them for the pattern that reminds me of the Chiefs‘ arrowhead logo.

I like to keep centerpieces simple for sports tablescapes. True fans don’t like anything getting in their sight line so we can properly armchair officiate! 🙂 Here, observing that cardinal design Rule of Three, I put miniature pigskins from Dollar Tree on black wrought iron stands that mimic a football tee. That’s it! That’s all! There’s already enough going on around the room and enough color on the table.

On one end of the bar I have all the game munchies & “adult beverages” to soothe our throats after cheering loud and long. On the other end is our prized & beloved autographed Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas (1989-1999) jersey to add a little ambience to the room and, hopefully, bring good luck to the Chiefs each game.

Other little touches around the room include a fun football remote control holder (another gift from my Mom), an autographed picture of wide receiver Eddie Kinnison (2001-2007), my Trent Green trading card, and the Chiefs helmet pin I was awarded after my tenure at Arrowhead Stadium.

Photos taken by my Mom in 1975…as if the furniture didn’t already give the year away! 🙂

This year the Chiefs celebrate 50 years of calling Kansas City, MO home and I celebrate 50 years of being a fan. I worked for them from 1973 – 1977 (yes, wearing these cheesy outfits in these mile-high go-go boots! Wait…did I say “mile-high?!?!?!!” Ick! Ugh! Boo, Broncos!!! :-)), but can cheer for them a lot more comfortably these days in sweats and flip-flops!

Are you ready for some MORE football…this time in Honolulu Blue? Click HERE (“Fun Stuff” page) and scroll down to “Home of the Lions”. And for another sports themed tablescape, click HERE for “The Boys of Summer”!

I will be joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday again this week!

American Royal Tablescape

I had a tough decision to make for September 18: start teaching my fall tablescaping classes or participate in the Kansas City American Royal’s Tablescapes Preview Party organized by the BOTARs (Belles of the American Royal). The tablescape event is a relatively new addition to the many activities associated with the annual 8-week American Royal, a Kansas City staple since 1899 that revolves around livestock, agriculture, and Kansas City world-famous barbecue. (Don’t let that description fool you…there’s a WHOLE LOTTA ritzy stuff goin’ on over those 8 weeks, including an Arabian Horse Show, the UPHA National Championship, a Wine Competition/Tasting/Auction, and a very swanky fundraising ball.) The preview party precedes the luncheon held the following day.

Anyhooooooooo, teaching won…sort of. I opted to create a country western/cowboy-themed tablescape right here in honor of the 113-year American Royal tradition as a part of the teaching experience. (Click on any photo to enhance/enlarge it. Photos by Sheri L. Grant)

I wanted to include as many natural and rustic elements as possible, so I chose to leave part of the wood table exposed beneath the layered denim and red bandanna table linens. Because the events of the American Royal are both “shabby” and “chic”, the bandanna fabric is allowed to stylishly puddle to the floor.

Each place setting starts with a natural grapevine wreath as a charger. A plain white round Corelle plate is the anchor piece of the dishes, followed by a Pier 1 navy blue square salad plate set on the diagonal, and topped off with a home-on-the-range-type brick red casserole from Home Goods. The Hampton Silversmith “Patriot – Mirror” flatware is given a rustic look with a simple bit of twine tied around it. The menus, printed on “Wanted poster paper” from Hobby Lobby, were created on my home computer.

Plain ol’ Mason jars serve as drinking glasses for the sarsaparilla on the menu. The place cards are created from menu paper remnants. I punched holes in each side, slipped a length of twine through the paper and then through holes in the horseshoes (TSC), tying them off in the back.

I had a lot of fun creating the centerpiece! Miniature hay bales act as risers. Super cool resin boots from Hobby Lobby serve as vases for roses dotted with blackbeard wheat. That’s where shabby meets chic once again. The boots are embellished with authentic spurs from Tractor Supply Company (TSC). Other centerpiece elements include rustic cast iron stars, a miniature “lasso”, and a few six-shooters.

“Well, where were the napkins?” you ask. Right there on the chairs tied around the straw cowboy hat favors!

The buffet behind the dining table is all ready for lots of western-style grub like Kansas City’s famous barbecue slathered in sauce. (I’m partial to smoky sweet taste Fiorella’s Jack Stack sauce, but debating that with folks around here will get you nowhere! :-)) Elements of hay bales, horse shoes, and twine are carried over to the buffet area. Food markers are created using more scraps of the “Wanted poster paper” used for the menus and place cards. A larger set of resin boots from Hobby Lobby filled with blackbeard wheat are placed on each end. Last, but never least, is “Cecil” who is one of our four personal butlers. 🙂 Cecil wanted to get in on the fun, so he added a bolo tie and black cowboy hat to his usually prim & proper uniform.

Extra cowboy hats are displayed on the sconce shelves.

My famous wooden horse has another chance to join the party! I am so grateful to my young friend, Chelsea Hudson from Pittsburg, KS, who so graciously lent her childhood saddle, a horse bit, a lasso (and other items that my citified self can’t identify! :-)) to me. These accessories successfully turned my horse (that I have used for Derby, carousel, R.A. Long Historical Society, and “looking a gift horse in the mouth” tablescaping) into a real rough and rowdy character!

My husband came home with a surprise for me: Texas longhorn cattle horns all polished up and wrapped in leather! Wow! These were on display in his late father’s home for a long time, and Ramon remembered they had been stored away. To soften the very masculine look of these massive horns, I added a raised bale of straw flanked by (faux) roses in tree bark-covered vases.

Those of you who have visited in the past are probably familiar with Geoffrey, our majordomo. Geoffrey never, ever misses a chance to play dress up, so he donned his dopey cowpoke hat and bandanna.

Some people call Kansas City a “cow town” like that’s a bad thing. Whatever! Have you seen the price of beef, leather and dairy products? Sounds like a gold mine to me! And that’s what the American Royal is all about: all the good things that constitute farming, agriculture, livestock, cowboy (and cowgirl!) fun, world-famous barbecue, posh events (why else would I wear a screamin’ red gown like this one?!!?) and, of course, the beef industry right here in good ol’ Kansas City, Mo.!

Maybe next year I can postpone classes until after the tablescape event at the American Royal! 🙂

Other posts on this site with a horse theme:
Carousel Colors
Kentucky Derby Buffet
Derby Day Dining
Run for the Roses” (scroll down the page to the end)

I am joining Cuisine Kathleen for “Let’s Dish!“, The Style Sisters for “Centerpiece Wednesday“, and Susan for “Tablescape Thursday” again this week. I’m sure there are tons of fabulous tables you would just love to see out there!!!

Pumpkins & Peacocks

Here we are once again at the crazy transitional time that calls for us to walk that pencil-thin line between summer and autumn tablescapes. A September tablescape can be one of the most difficult as we teeter on the cusp of the bright colors of summer and the warm, deeper tones that come with the crunch of autumn leaves. This mix of a bright pumpkin color and the flickering jewel tones of peacock feathers is a tablescape that might satisfy the need to meet in the middle. And, as the peacock is the national bird of India, this might also make a fun table for the festival of Diwali which marks the end of the harvest season.
(Click on any photo to enlarge/enhance it.)

The foundation of this colorful Fall tablescape is an attention-grabbing floor-length pumpkin-colored linen from LinenTablecloth.com.

While the layers of the tabletop include more of the bright pumpkin hue, the deepness of the greens and purples ground it a bit more and bring it even closer into Fall.

This table for four features complex layers that speak to the cooler autumn months but don’t abandon what’s left of summer. A double layer of square gold chargers from World Market hosts a French-inspired plate adorned with a gorgeous peacock, his iridescent plumage on full display. The lower right corner of the plate comes alive with brightly colored gloriosa lilies.

Gold-tone flatware complements the orange-y hue of the linens. Around the napkin is a showy purple “gemstone” napkin ring from Z Gallerie, usually reserved for Mardi Gras around here. (See it used HERE and HERE.) The purple in the napkin ring complements the jewel tones in the eye of the peacock feathers.

Inexpensive but nonetheless lovely green Dollar Tree stemware complements the green tones in the peacock feathers and offers another layer of color to the table’s palette.

I didn’t have a lot of gloriosa lilies, but I did have on hand enough of these faux orchid stems that were very close in both color and form. I chose to create a kind of wild, untamed, uncontrolled floral arrangement…much like the demeanor of peacocks! While a faux orchid floral arrangement is used for this demonstration, it would be REALLY cool if your budget allows for real ones!!!

Tiny pumpkin-colored tea light votives candles produce ambient light and extend the surface level girth of the centerpiece.

A simple straight line of votives across the fireplace mantel mimic those on the table.

To see more Fall tablescapes on this site, visit:
Autumn” page (has TEN different posts on one page!!!)
September Wine
Autumn Blues
Autumn White Wedding
Roses in October
Sunflower Simple
Serape High Style
Raining Orchids” (another great transitional table!)

Next week I’ll have photos of one of the four tables I have been laboring to set up for my “Fabulous Fall Tablescaping” class through Longview Community College’s Community Education department. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that I get the requisite number of students so that the class isn’t cancelled. I know people are very busy and that the economy really sucks right now, but I have such great plans for this class!!! I hope it fills up! If you live in the Kansas City, MO area, you have until Friday the 14th to enroll, so give them a call at 816-604-2030. Classes start Tuesday, September 18th.

I am joining Cuisine Kathleen for “Let’s Dish!” starting Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. CDT. Also on Wednesday I will be joining The Style Sisters for “Centerpiece Wednesday“. Then on Thursday, please come along with me to Susan’s “Tablescape Thursday” starting at 9:00 a.m. CDT. I hope to see you then!

The Art of Tablescaping Goes Live!

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” — William Arthur Ward

This Spring I hope to earn my stripes as both a superior and great teacher
when I teach my first ever class,
“The Art of Tablescaping”
through Longview Community College in Lee’s Summit, MO.

Working up the nerve to stand among eager students and teach what I know like the back of my hand and love like a baby has been a long time coming. Since retiring two years ago, I have taken on a relative timidity…a complete 180° from my professional life. But because I feel so passionate about the fine art of entertaining and creating enjoyable, relaxing, memorable dining atmospheres, I am stepping up to the plate and making that first pitch on March 6, 2012.

If you live in the Kansas City area and would like to take the course, I’m posting below the school’s catalog information. If you know anyone who may be interested, please pass the information along to them. Signing up is as easy as phoning the Community Education office at Longview College at (816) 604-2030. If you live outside of the metropolitan area, I’ll be quite happy with any and all support you have to give!
Above all, please pray that I don’t wet my britches in front of all those people! 🙂