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La Dolce Vita literally translates to “The Sweet Life”, so it is pretty much a universal theme for any event where you are looking to have a good time. For me, this theme evokes the memory of long lunches and carefree moments on holidays, usually overseas. That is why this is my go-to theme for an al fresco dinner or a daytime luncheon.
When it comes to table settings, I follow one golden rule — more is more. A busy table brimming with colour and décor creates the image of a generous and experienced host, and guests are immediately put at ease with the knowledge that there is plenty of food, wine and fun to go around!
Adhering to this philosophy doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on entertaining. By following a few simple tricks, you can achieve an abundant tablescape without breaking the bank every time you have friends over for lunch.
Fresh flowers are always a must for me, but keep your bouquets low and small. Anything too tall or huge will distract from good conversation and block your view. For my La Dolce Vita setting, I have chosen to use small, round glass vases from Habitania on the table. These vases are a great choice for any lunch because they are simple yet elegant, leaving plenty of room for the flowers and food to do the talking. To create some height, I have popped some taller vases from salt&pepper on the kitchen bench, where they look beautiful, but don’t get in the way of conversations at the table.
Fresh produce is also a great table filler and an inexpensive alternative to flowers. For the La Dolce Vita theme, try scattering fresh lemons, strawberries, vine tomatoes or peaches in and around your table setting, or place them on each plate like a little party favour.
Bring colour to your table by using napkins or a tablecloth. Good linens have the effect of elevating your lunch from an unplanned gathering to a sophisticated and well-considered afternoon.
Invest in a few great platters and wooden boards that you can fill with crudité, cheeses and meats. I also love having plenty of small bowls on hand for dips and sauces. Not only do cheeseboards and dips look sensational, they create a friendly, familial atmosphere and give your guests something to nibble on while waiting on the main course.
One of my favourite tablescape trends of this year is colourful glassware. Sipping your favourite beverage from a tinted glass makes the experience feel so special, even if you’re just sipping water!
I have opted for these beautiful blue water glasses from Habitania and have paired them with wine glasses from salt&pepper. Each blue glass resembles a little gemstone, and the colour reminds me of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s one of the easiest ways to add a pop of joy to your meal.
The secret to a perfect tablescape is an abundance of good food, wine and music. I’m a big believer that a great table setting should facilitate conversations to flow freely and make guests feel comfortable. That’s one of the reasons why I always opt for family-style serving over plated food. I find that people feel most at ease when they can serve themselves at their own pace and there is plenty of choice for what to eat and drink.
Never underestimate the transportive powers of a great playlist. Good music not only sets the tone for a great afternoon, but with the right combination of food, wine and décor, your guests can really feel like they are anywhere in the world, even on the shores of Capri!
A playlist is often the difference between a good meal and a great one, so put some thought into the music you are going to play before your guests arrive and have it ready to go. It may take some time out of your day to compile the perfect playlist, but it’s the surest, low-cost way to ensure that your guests have a memorable day. Personally, I like to start with the crooners (Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra are two of my favourites) and then build it up to a modern, fun vibe as the day progresses (I’m especially partial to Taylor Swift).
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