Friday, May 6, 2016

Creating a Table Setting for your Mother's Day Brunch

Hello Everyone!
This post is much later in the evening than I expected to be.  I wasn't planning on my brain going on meltdown because I had woken up so early to go on the Jeff and Company morning show. But, after the show and a regular work day, I could barely form words, let alone type, so I took a nap and now I am ready to go.

I wish I looked this glamorous while I napped.
So we have covered what we are going to eat for our Mother's Day Brunch, now we have to tackle the setting.
It is sometimes hard to make food beautiful, although the brunches that I chose for this year's Mother's Day brunches are all very pretty on their own.  But you can make food look better if you set a lovely table on which to serve it.  In today's day and age, very few people have, and use, their formal dining rooms for the purpose that they were intended.  I myself am guilty of this -- I turned my formal living/dining room into a pub/library.  Because of this, most of us eat in the kitchen, or on the bar counter top or in the breakfast nook and, very few of us, I'm sure, take the time to set the table and make dinner an occasion.  This is also the reason why very few of us have the trappings for a more formal dining occasion.
Rather than panic and go out and spend your money on trying to buy the things that you would use to set your table, I am going to give you some ideas on using things around your home.
First, the table cloth.
PLEASE don't go out and buy a cheap, plastic table cloth. Your mom is worth real cloth.  Everyone of us has sheets.  Grab one of your prettier CLEAN, flat sheets  and fold it so that it will fit your table without draping onto the floor.  Voila, instant table cloth.
If you have Star Wars sheets, or some other pattern that is equally unusable as a table cloth, you can, usually, purchase a lone flat sheet for a dollar at your local Goodwill.
Once you have the table cloth on the table, you have won half of the battle.  A table cloth instantly makes a table more elegant. 
From here, start thinking about what you can use as a centerpiece.
Do you have an old vase that you never use from flowers you received from an old beau?  You can fill it with flowers, but, unless you have a garden,  flowers can get expensive.  Look for other interesting things to fill the vase.  If you have an oak tree in your yard, or neighborhood, collect some pine cones, spray paint them in colors that will match your place settings and place them inside your vase.
Do you have eggs leftover from your brunch?  This is a brunch- so use them, carefully put the uncracked eggs into the vase and you have a funky, brunch-y centerpiece.  When you are done eating and no longer need them as decoration, you can put them back in the fridge and use them for another meal.
You don't have a vase you say.  What do you have in your house that could be moved for the purpose of the brunch?  I am not in your house, but I am certain that you have something that can be used as a centerpiece.
The point is, think outside the box.  If you really can't think of anything, take out the jelly, still in the jar, that you were planning on serving with brunch.  Soak off the label, tie a ribbon around the top. If you are having more than one jelly, place the decorate jars all on one plate.
Find a small plate and put your butter on that.  If you don't have butter, but use margarine, take a lemon baller and form your butter into little balls and put those on a plate. 
On another plate, put the bread that you are going to serve with brunch. 
Place all of these in the center of the table. 
Arrange them so they look balanced. 
If you have a candle, light it and put it in the center of the plates.  It is practical and pretty.
This, of course, leads me to plates and silverware.  Things do not have to match to work as a table setting but they do need to coordinate.
For example, I have a collection of my grandmother's vintage tea cups.  None of these cups are the same color or style.  But they look beautiful when I  put them together with a white tea pot and serve tea.
These are not my tea cups, but I actually own two of these, so you get the idea. None of them match, but they do coordinate.
You can use the same idea when setting your table. Use plates that, at the very least coordinate with one another.  Use your clear glasses rather than plastic cups.  You get the idea.
If you don't have any dinnerware that will work to make a pretty table, you can always go to your local grocery store or Walmart and buy some decorative plastic plates.  These will usually run you about $5.00 which is an expense that I try to avoid.  But, in a pinch, they are less expensive than buying a dinnerware set and, plus side, unless your planning on using them again, you don't have to wash them.
The ones in this picture are packaged for larger groups, but you can get them in packages of eight.  You can also find different styles in the wedding section in party stores.
Now that we have covered tables cloths, center pieces and place settings, lets move on to napkins. You can use paper towels, although I am cringing even as I type this.  But, I am a cloth napkin person. I use cloth napkins for every dinner I eat-even when I am eating take-out from a cardboard container. I get cloth napkins for between $3-$6 at Marshall's and I find them well worth the expense.  There is something about a cloth napkin that instantly makes a meal more elegant.  But, if you would never use a cloth napkin again after this brunch, that would be a waste of money. 

Whether you use paper napkins, paper towels, or cloth napkins, please take the time to fold them prettily.  There are all sorts of instructions that you can find on the internet.  Here is a diagram that I found online.
I know, its not the clearest picture in the world because I enlarged it.  But it gives you a starting point.
I don't do napkin folding you say?  Well, then roll your napkins and place them in a napkin ring.  The napkin ring could be as simple as a ribbon tied around your napkin or as complicated as a decorated piece of a toilet paper tube.
Yes, I said toilet paper tube.
I ALWAYS save some empty toilet paper tubes once a roll is done because they come in so handy for so many things. (I hide them from my husband so he doesn't think that I am some weird, crazy, hoarder and I limit myself to no more than 20 at any one time, unless I am colleting them for a project.)
To make a napkin ring from a toilet paper tube, take one toilet paper tube. Cut the tube in half.  Take the half and cut that it half.  Do the same thing with the other half.  You should now have four small pieces that you can now decorate in a multitude of ways.  You can spray paint them a bright or a metallic color and call it a day.  If you have leftover, small, pieces of pretty wrapping paper, you can wrap them in paper.  You can glue a spare piece of ribbon around it.  You can leave it unpainted, wrap the center with a paper bag that you cut into strips to make "ribbons" and hot glue a pretty stone in the center for a more rustic feel to your brunch.  You can decorate it with beads, flowers, etc.  You get the idea, they can be decorated with anything that you already have around the house. If all you have is old news paper, tear it into strips and decoupage the rings.  The idea here is to save money.  So don't buy supplies that you are only going to use for this one project.

This is a picture that I found on  It epitomizes what you can do if you use your imagination when it comes to place settings.  Instead of a place mate, she uses overlapping pages of an old book and for the napkin ring she used some fresh flowers from her garden. I don't encourage tearing apart books, but if you have one that is already falling apart, why not refurbish it in another manner?


Wow!  This post has already gotten fairly long and I haven't even gotten to the gift ideas yet.

Personally, I think that a lovely meal, made by you, wonderfully presented and then cleaned up by you afterwards is a gift in itself.  Especially if you have one of those mothers who actually means it when she says she doesn't want you to buy her anything because she already has enough stuff.  (I have a mother-in-law like that.)  Add a card telling her you love her and you are done.
But, if you feel that you need to give her a little something extra, here are some ideas that won't break your bank:
1.  Homemade bath salts
2.  A manicure by you  (If you are talented enough to do a manicure for another person.)
3.  People always need a pen.  Make her a pen bouquet  (I love these.  They are regular ball point pens, but you put a fake flower on  the top and wrap floral tape around the stem and the pen.  Put them in a flower pot or mug
4.  For the gardener, make her plant identifiers by using permanent markers and river stones.
5.  Hand paint or decoupage a coaster made out of small 4x4 tiles and cork.

I will give detailed instructions on how to do all of these tomorrow, as this post is getting really long and I don't want to make it any longer, and I will continue with housecleaning on Sunday!

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