Table Decor and Flowers

10 Tablescape Ideas for People Who Don’t Do Tablescapes

Esther Pransky August 26, 2020

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We know, we know.

The word “tablescape” brings to mind expensive china, exotic flowers, heirloom decorations, and countless small touches for which you have neither time nor inclination.

We got it – you don’t do tablescapes.

But what if “tablescape” was, in its purest form, a way to describe any decorations you add to the table to give it a special touch? What if we could show you easy ways to add an extra sparkle to your table l’kavod Shabbat or Yom Tov?

We hope you’ll give us a chance because here we go:

1. Runners

A runner is a no-fuss way to dress up your table in one step. For $10-$25, you can find runners to match your style, from glittery elegance to striped burlap and everything in between.

Pay attention to the length of the runner to be sure it’ll fit your table!

2. Napkins

You’re using napkins anyway, so why not experiment with color, patterns, or texture? Paper napkins can be sophisticated or fun, neutral or a pop of color.

And cloth napkins add instant class to any table. Choose napkins that wash easily and DO NOT NEED to be ironed.

3. Napkin rings

Once we’re talking about napkins, we can’t forget napkin rings. The possibilities are endless, and, yes, they’ll work with paper napkins.

When you have napkin rings, you can play with the napkin presentation. (This is a great activity for the kids!)

  • Fan – Pleat the napkin accordion-style. Fold in half and slip the napkin ring over the folded end. Fan out the other end.
  • Butterfly – Pleat the napkin accordion-style. Slip the napkin ring over the napkin to a middle point. Fan out both ends.
  • Candlesticks – Fold the napkin to form a large triangle. Roll the napkin, starting with the longest side.  Fold the napkin roll in half and secure with a napkin ring.

4. Placemats

You could buy official placemats, of course, and you’ll have a wide variety to choose from, including disposables. You can even print custom designs. (Think sheva brachot or family Yom Tov meals.)

But if you’d like to get more daring, any paper will work. You could order 12” x 12” scrapbook paper or cut your favorite wrapping paper into squares.

5. Centerpieces

When you buy flowers for Shabbat or keep your candles on the table, you already have a centerpiece. But if you’d like to add interest or drama, here are some ideas:

  • Think out of the vase! Arrange flowers in a large serving piece like a china tureen.
  • Think in the vase! Fill a vase not with flowers, but with colorful candies. Will the kids be able to wait for dessert? Will you?
  • How about that cake stand you never use? You know, the one with the glass cover. Use it to display small potted flowers or plants for a beautiful centerpiece.

6. Vases

Instead of just one large vase as a centerpiece, decorate your table with multiple small vases. Again, think creatively about what you can use:

  • Teacups
  • Tin cans
  • Empty glass bottles
  • Ramekins
  • Mugs
  • Small gift bags (No, you can’t put the flowers directly in the bag. But you CAN arrange the bags around small vases for a unique look.)

7. Place cards

Even the utilitarian place card can become a decoration. You can buy or print them to match whatever else is on your table.

Or use a simple place card in an elegant place card holder made of wire, acrylic, or metal. You can stick place card picks into small vases or plants.

8. Color schemes

Here’s where you pull it all together. Find a coordinating (or contrasting!) table runner and napkin rings. Or placemats and place cards. Or flowers and a runner.

Voilà, you now have a color scheme.

If you’re using paper goods, have fun with the colors! According to Canva, trending color combos include light gray/beige, mint/white, or navy/blush.

9. Rosh Hashana ideas

Yom Tov will be here before we know it! For a touch of Tishrei, turn any of the above ideas into a Rosh Hashana theme. For example:

  • Display small flowers in honey pots

10. Sukkot ideas

And you can do the same for Sukkot, too.

Bring out a fall theme with a leaf table runner or tablecloth and an orange/red/brown color scheme.

Or focus on the lulav/etrog pair. Use lemons in a vase, on a cake stand, or in a bowl as a centerpiece or think about this lemony table runner and placemat set.

By the way, no need to use all the ideas at once. That would be overwhelming!

But even one simple “tablescape” addition can add a memorable touch to Shabbat or Yom Tov.