summer-party

7 expert tips for creating the most Instagrammable tablescape for your summer garden party at home

Event planner-slash-candlemaker Tony Jack gives his top table setting tips...

Leanne Bayley

When the UK went into lockdown I created tablescapes most evenings. You might think this is a little strange, but not only did it lift the mood within my household, it also transformed the kitchen table from a 9-to-5 office space to somewhere to enjoy our evening meal.

As the lockdown rules start to ease, you may want to invite your closest friends and family to enjoy an evening to catch up. Well, here’s your chance to treat them like a VIP and create the most celeb-worthy evening because, after nearly three months in lockdown, we could all do with feeling like we’re attending the event of the year.

dinner-party

Last year, in my job in event planning, I created this wonderful dinner for the launch of the Lucy Williams x Missoma collection – I used every colour I could find to create a rainbow-themed tablescape whilst keeping it chic and feeling luxury for the guests. Here’s how to recreate something similar for your nearest and dearest.

LucyWilliamsXMissoma

1. Send invites

If you have ample time in the lead up to your dinner, why not send a paper invite to your guests. During the lockdown, I’ve loved receiving post and cards from loved ones. I love Papier for event stationery, you can buy beautiful postcards, greetings cards and invites for every occasion. You can also personalise your invite with a photo or design – how’s that for detail?! 

party-invite

Party invites pack of 10, £19, Papier

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2. Set a dress code

To add the evening festivities, set a dress code, we’ve all not been out for months and it’s fun to make an effort! Allow your guests plenty of time to shop for the theme or style.

3. Make an entrance

When your guests arrive, it’s important to make an impact on arrival. You need to envoke all five senses. Start with scent, I would suggest lighting a candle with a natural fragrance to fill your home’s entrance. Light ‘Elevate’ from Hart + Hunter to naturally lift the mood and energise through the perfected blend of Ylang Ylang flowers, Grapefruit peel, Bergamot rind, and Cedarwood, a combination to welcome and uplift any occasion. 

Hart-and-Hunter

Hart + Hunter candle, £15, Etsy

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4. Serve welcome drinks

After taking their jackets, serve your guests a glass of bubbles as they walk through your home, we all love that feeling of arriving at a special event and receiving a glass of fizz. Pour the champagne or prosecco into these Cut Crystalline Cava Flutes from Zara Home, they feel ever so luxe and look very expensive.

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Cut crystalline cava flute, £7.99, Zara Home

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5. Serve canapés

There is nothing worse than looking forward to an evening meal with friends, saving yourself as you’ve been promised a banquet but then when you get there, dinner’s not ready and there’s nothing to nibble on - here come the canapés! I spoke to my good friend and co-founder of Opus 11 (a swanky catering company based in London) on the importance of a light bite before a big feast.

"When creating canapes for any event, we always meticulously plan and consider our guests' experience," he told me. "The look, feel, and taste of each canapé is so important in creating the theatre and making the guest feel like a VIP, which for us is the ultimate goal."

I would add that it’s best to pick brightly coloured foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, beetroot, and avocados as they all look and taste great, and are perfect for a light snack and not too heavy. Serve your canapes on a chic tray as it will entice your guests to take a bite. 

Amazon---serving-tray

Epicurean serving platter, £13.49, Amazon

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Marble platter, £15.99, Wayfair

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6. Tablescaping

Taking it back to before your guests arrive, you'll want to set your table. Creating an Instagrammable tablescape can sometimes be quite daunting but it doesn’t have to be, it should be fun and enjoyable. Remember, your table is not just for Instagram, it’s there to hold together a wonderful evening with your loved ones.

I am obsessed with bright and bold tablescapes, especially this time of year when the sun isn’t always shining. Bring summer into your home in the form of a beautifully set table. Go crazy for colour as the best thing about using a rainbow of colours is that you don’t have to worry too much about pairing your pieces. Buy items that you are going to keep and re-use, try to reduce waste as homeware items can be used again and again.

Ditch the traditional white tablecloth and opt for a pattern or a bold colour. HomeBuy, via Amazon, offers an array of tablecloths, perfect for this. Sold by the metre, you just need hemming tape to tidy up the edges of the fabric.

Table-cloth

HomeBuy striped fabric, £16.99, Amazon

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Pare with napkins that are either the same fabric as the tablecloth or something completely different. These hand-printed, linen napkins (£20 for 4 from Taylored Interiors) go with everything and look fantastic under your dinner plates.

Hello!-Taylored-Interiors-Napkins

Printed napkins, £20, Taylored Interiors

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I love these two-toned dinner plates from M&S, the pink is subtle but adds another shade to make your table pop.

m-and-s-plate

12 piece dinner set, £59, Marks & Spencer

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Create mini place cards for your event using card and a sharpie or, use photographs or illustrations, I have fallen in love with ‘The Spud Stamper’ a small Etsy-based illustrator brand, born during lockdown. They will stamp images and illustrate your guests by using potato stamping – it’s very chic!

And for a menu, place these onto of your napkins, guests love to see what they’re going to eat. Include dietary information such as (V) – vegetarian and (VE) – Vegan etc. You can either simply write it yourself or, again use Papier to design your perfectly placed menu. This will make your guests feel like they’re not just at a friend’s for dinner, more like they are at a prestigious event with everything planned out for them.

7. Flower Power

For me, florals will make your tablescape. They add a natural, delicate feel to the set-up. I’ve been using Bloom and Wild throughout lockdown. I love ‘the Evie’ letterbox bouquet as it is bursting with colour.

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 Evie letterbox flowers, £32, Bloom & Wild

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Half of the bouquet goes into a vase (which is statically placed for guests to see as they arrive) and the other is cut up into small posies which are peppered throughout the table. I use mini vintage glass vases and have purchased these Apothecary bud vases.

MORE: 17 best flower delivery services to brighten your home over the summer

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Apothecary bud vase, reduced from £8 to £4, John Lewis

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8. Opt for chic glassware

Make sure you fill your table with glassware, it really adds to the luxe feel you’re trying to achieve. Start with these blue and clear tumblers from M&S with each showcasing their own pattern - they are destined to stand out.  

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Set of four glass tumblers, £19.50, Marks & Spencer

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Mix and match with these honey-shade tumblers, adding to your colour wheel.

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Set of four coloured glasses, £19.50, Marks & Spencer

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For water, use a bold jug, I love this bubble-effect jug, slice up some lemon, limes and add mint for freshly-flavoured water.

M-and-S-Jug

Picnic jug, £12.50, Marks & Spencer

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For wine, make sure you place both a red and white wine glass on the table, your guests may only drink one but again, this will elevate the look and feel of your table and leave guests feeling special.

These iridescent wine glasses from LSA at John Lewis are very special and gleam in the light, whether from a candle or natural sunlight.

lsa-glasses

LSA wine glasses, £40, John Lewis

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Mixing them with these colourful Highgate goblets from Wayfair will work beautifully.

highgate-glasses

Highgate glass set, £24.99, Wayfair

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There is no need to purchase new cutlery, your silver or gold everyday set will blend seamlessly into your new technicoloured tablescape.

9. Light it up

Let's talk candles! During lockdown I created my own candle brand, Fairholme. Made with a luxury blend of soy and beeswax, these hand-dipped taper candles are a perfect addition to your VIP tablescape. All of the shades are inspired by important women in my life and 10 percent of every sale is donated to Women’s Aid, a charity which helps women and children in the UK.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by fairholme candles (@fairholme_studio) on

Fairholme on Instagram @fairholme_studio

For this particular tablescape, I would use some brightly coloured candles to being together with the different shades and hues, used in the tableware, glassware the crockery. Yellow, purple and blue are perfect shades to play with.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by fairholme candles (@fairholme_studio) on

Fairholme on Instagram @fairholme_studio

Pair the candle with a different coloured candle holder, I love these Talking Tables candle holders in pink and orange. 

Candle-holder

Pink candle holder, £14, Amazon

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Tony Jack's top tips to remember:

 

  • Take photos of your work and your quests but leave your phone on the side, there is nothing worse than guests being on their phone throughout the meal
  • Leave the washing up until after everyone has left – you should stay with your guests and enjoy their company
  • Choose a playlist that represents you and your guests' tastes. If you have a favourite track from a past time, stick it on the playlist, it will give you all something to reminisce about
  • Chill some spare wine and leave red wine out, decanted at room temperature.
  • Have spare food to share with your guests towards the end of the meal.
  • Allow your guests to enjoy themselves.

Check out Tony Jack's Fairholme candles on Instagram.

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