Each of us, whether a professional or a homemaker, has our own distinctive style. We all design and arrange our homes to showcase our personalities that are shaped by our lives. These personalities may be subtle or strong, but the backbone of a home’s style is built on experiences and memories. At the heart of all Southern homes is the table, in particular the dining table. Here a family gathers to pray, share a meal and discuss the blessings of each day. When mama assembles the family to eat it is a deeply respected and honored experience. It is also a way to entertain our closest friends. The South is deeply rooted in tradition, and nothing is more important than friends and family. Nothing. Ask anyone who is a true Southerner and they will agree that the family meal is as sacred as going to church on Sunday.
Living in the South is about living beautifully and inheriting rich family traditions. Gracious hosts attend to every detail to provide their guests with the ultimate in Southern entertaining. While I am new to this region and considered a transplant, I have learned that Southern Hospitality is the foundation to any good meal. Meals with friends, neighbors and family are embraced often but not without Gods blessings from prayer. A meal in the South is a religious experience in itself. And once evening falls no matter what the day has brought you, around the dinner table the challenges of the day are given to the Lord and the love and support of those closest to you. Here are my tips on achieving smart Southern style:
When preparing your table for guests, it is important to make them feel special. Southerners are known for their hospitality and generosity and also their formality and grace. Pull out the best linens you have and dress your table properly. Crisp table linens are a must and always use linen napkins with a beautiful napkin ring
For our tablescape we selected Cabbages and Roses stunning Hatley Print for our tablecloth and napkins. The Hatley is a beautiful white cloth with Lilac roses which we chose specifically to tie in with our Colors you need now for instant holiday glamour post.
Once you have chosen your linens, the next step is selecting the china and glasses you will use. I prefer to mix and match these items to give the table a more collected look which is a very traditional Southern practice. Coordinate these items with the theme and colorscape of the event and always add candlelight. The dishware we chose are rich in history and create wonderful dinner conversation. For example, the crystal wine hassocks were given to me when Lance and I got married. They were the most expensive item on our registry and I was convinced that no one would purchase them. Lo and behold we received 12 of them!! Lance’s Uncle Ken and Aunt Dutch purchased them and even though we requested six, they purchased 12. Sadly two years later Uncle Ken passed away unexpectedly and now they mean so much more to me.
Set your table with the best china you have and mix it up with different patterns and colors; this creates beautiful texture and color that can be a feast for the eyes. A Southern hostess wants you to feel delighted and charmed when you sit at her table, and under no circumstances will she disappoint!
For our setting we chose beautiful gold chargers, my platinum lenox wedding china, mixed it with Z galleries Delfina dinnerware collection for a splash of color and my clients’ china (given to her by her grandmother) for added pattern and texture.
For some extra va-va voom we added our Orchid pewter napkin rings
The South is rich in tradition and many items have been passed down for centuries and are very prized! (I have one client that has china handed down from Abraham Lincoln’s home.) China is highly regarded and cherished, and when it isn’t being shown off in a display, it is being used. For those of you that read my blog you know that I am a firm believer in living a true lifestyle. China is one of the best ways to indulge and make each meal feel special, so use it!
Don’t know how to set a respectable table? (me either!) Luckily for us I have included a chart below on how to properly set a table so you look like a true Southern belle!
The added extras are always appreciated but often overlooked. In our studio we approach everything with the GO BIG or GO HOME motto. Our philosophy is always that a little is good, but more is BETTER! Dressing our table just with beautiful linens and china wouldn’t do. We wanted to take it a step further and really honor our guests with interesting details and exceptional textures for this special occasion.
I wanted to transform my everyday office chairs into something more festive so my assistant Elizabeth and I went to a local charity event and purchased four yards of plum polyester fabric. (Keep events like this in mind when you entertain. It helps out the local community AND we were able to pick up four yards of fabric for four dollars!!) I knew that with the help of Jamey, the Queen consort of all things thread, fabric and magic we could transform my everyday office chairs into something spectacular for our holiday photoshoot! Ahem, did I say WE? Yeh, let’s revise that…SHE took my fuzzy, wadded up disoriented directions and made these:
With a few safety pins Elizabeth and I attached them underneath.
Quick and easy and the results were extra special for our holiday dinner. Love that!
Along with our custom chair runners I wanted to add a special pop of color and texture to the table centerpiece. One of my favorite go-to pieces is by a company called Bougainvillea out of Georgia. These little creations of floral art are the perfect accent to any table and they don’t require water, which is perfect for people like me! However, if you prefer to have real fabulous florals here are my essentials tips for the floral impaired. Flowers are the quintessential Southern accessory for any table and holiday flowers really tie the finishing touches together and complement the china with sensational results.
Spirit of the Season:
At the heart of all Southern homes the goal is to keep family tradition alive. Simple gestures, handmade crafts, homemade confections are all things that lift our spirits and create a strong sense of community. A Southern home welcomes it’s neighbors with open arms and always has an extra plate. For true Southern style, mix what you have, adorn your table with heirlooms new and old, and as a gracious host, always give everyone who comes to your table the love and warmth they deserve.
In addition to being a gracious host it is also important to be a gracious guest. Simple etiquette is an absolute must when attending a party. To behave otherwise is ungracious and rude. Here are the top ten manners by Emily Post when attending an event:
- Chew with your mouth shut.
- Avoid slurping, smacking, blowing your nose, or other gross noises. (If necessary, excuse yourself to take care of whatever it is you need to take care of.)
- Don’t use your utensils like a shovel or as if you’ve just stabbed the food you’re about to eat.
- Don’t pick your teeth at the table.
- Remember to use your napkin at all times.
- Wait until you’re done chewing to sip or swallow a drink. (The exception is if you’re choking.)
- Cut only one piece of food at a time.
- Avoid slouching and don’t place your elbows on the table while eating (though it is okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses.)
- Instead of reaching across the table for something, ask for it to be passed to you.
- Always say ‘excuse me’ whenever you leave the table.
True Southern Style:
I would like to thank everyone who participated in this photo shoot. Christy Chassereau Bryan of Waldorf Photographic art, Cherie at Manoirs, Len and Trish for so graciously letting us tromp through their home to take pictures, and my staff who purchased, packed up, and carried all this stuff up two flights of stairs, and then repacked, carried it back down the stairs and returned it to it’s rightful owners!
I would like to thank Marabeth Quinn for allowing us to borrow her beautiful artwork becasue this shoot would not have been the same with out it!
I would like to thank Cabbages and Roses for all their help and for providing the linens for this beautiful photo shoot! Like what you see? We will be giving the linens away to a lucky reader so make sure you are a follower, and tweet about this awesome giveaway! We will announce the winner on Monday!!
Like my beautiful photos? Contact Christy at WALDORFPHOTOGRAPHICART for more info
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