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Tips for Table Centerpieces
What should I keep in mind for table centerpieces?
Cathleen Hanson, who is one of the owners and founders of the International School of Protocol, which teaches proper etiquette to children, adults, educators, and businesses, says, "You can go over the top with centerpieces." She says the one rule to keep in mind for choosing a table centerpiece is that you don't want something that is going to block people. You want to be able to see people over the table. The same thing goes for candles. You don't want your candles to be too tall. To avoid this, sit down at the table and see what it looks like.
Cathleen offers these suggestions for creating attractive centerpieces: "Have a beautiful salad as your centerpiece. It can be things that you bring in from outdoors as well. I have seen people make whole vegetables a part of it. You may grow your own herbs, and you might want to put those in a bowl or sprinkle them all around the table. It just depends on what you want to do. If you want to get a little bit more creative with it, then I say by all means go ahead." If you are not the do-it-yourself type then you can visit a florist and see what they have or ask them to make something special that will fit your color scheme or theme.
Bringing things in from the outside to make or add to your table centerpiece is always a cheap and festive option. Cathleen suggests gourds during the fall and pine cones during the winter. Fall leaves can provide instant color, while branches mixed in with a bouquet of spring flowers add a touch of whimsy. You could even sprinkle flower petals around the centerpiece or place them around a few candles so that this becomes the centerpiece. When using candles Cathleen reminds us, "If you are going to light candles, make sure it will be dark before the end of the meal. If it's not dark, don't light your candles." Lit or unlit, an elegant candle can add to the ambiance, especially at a formal dinner party.
Another idea is have part of the meal itself be the centerpiece. This is usually done with desert or after dinner treats such as mints or cinnamon sticks for coffee. Take a beautiful two or three tiered tray (remember the height factor) and spread the delicacies out evenly on it. You may also want to place the after dinner wine or champagne on ice in a beautiful container in the center of the table. If it is a smaller informal dinner, you could even place pretty goblets around the bucket, one for each guest. These are simple ways of creating a beautiful centerpiece and they also keep the guest's mouths watering by giving them a peek at what's to come after the main courses are served.
Cathleen says that unlike other aspects of proper table setting etiquette, you have total freedom with centerpieces. Have fun with it.