Though we may only be gathering with those we live with this year, the ritual of setting the table is still something we can take great joy in creating, even if it’s just for one. Approach it as a self-care ritual to express your senses and aesthetic tastes through creating a natural, textured foundation to enjoy your holiday meals upon.
We sent our Sonoma Textured Organic Napkins to our friend Kristen Caissie-California Based Destination Wedding Florist, Founder and Creative Director of Moon Canyon, a floral design studio based in LA, and author of ‘Gathering: Setting the Natural Table’-to learn some tips on the art of napkin folding and creating a tablescape that mimics nature.
I would say there are no rules when creating a tablescape. I often say setting a table is like setting an intention for your gathering. I typically try to infuse my table with at least these three things:
A Connection to Nature
This could be a beautiful arrangement of florals or a simple vase of greens cut from your yard, either way we bring nature to the table always.
Make the Guest Comfortable
Present each place setting with everything your guest, or family member, would need to feel comfortable. On a practical level that means making sure all the flatware, glassware and dishes needed for the meal is set in front of them, but also including something personal that may be particular to them or to the event itself. This might be a little bundle of holiday greens that they can take home as a keepsake or it might be a pillow behind their backs to create extra comfort for them as we sit.
Lighting is key and if your gathering is happening in the evening I always recommend candlelight. It evokes a sense of wonder to any table.
The Art of the Napkin Fold
The ability to elevate a tablescape can be found in the often-overlooked art of the napkin fold.
If there is one element that can transform your tablescape, it is the deceptively subtle multipurpose linen napkin. Even if you use the same dishes and flatware at every gathering, if you change up your napkins or even play with varied napkin folds, any gathering can be transformed into an elegant and special occasion.
One basic tip on harnessing the versatile power of the napkin: have a few different color options in your linen closet, so you can vary shades to complement the food, florals, setting and occasion. You can hand fold a napkin in a variety of ways and use a diverse range of materials to tie or shape linens, such as ribbons, floral elements, and napkin rings. See some of our favorite napkin folds below.
Serving as the perfect canvas for a small bundle of dried or live florals, the fold lends itself to both formal and casual place settings.
Insider Hint: Taking a quick moment to iron the kerchief after it is folded will help to create crisper edges and sharper points.
There are occasions when the plateware is the star of a table and in these instances the simplicity of this fold is nuance. By simply wrapping the napkin around the dinner plate it is easy to create and allows your guests to experience the subtleties of the serving ware, be it a dish or bowl, delicate porcelain, or earth, artistic ceramics.
Insider Hint: Depending on the size of your napkins and the desired width, this fold can be done in either thirds or quarters.
A napkin ring provides the perfect opportunity to add another layer of artistry to your table. From carved wood or a buttery leather cuff to a more formal metal ring, a rolled napkin secured this way mimics the vertical lines of the flatware for a dash of table setting flair.
Insider Hint: Napkin rings don’t need to be purchased; you can get creative and wrap your napkins with items you may already have at home-ribbon, scraps of fabric, or even a floral element from the garden.