Friday, January 8, 2010

A Pretty Dinner Table is Hard to Resist!

I talk a lot about setting a pretty table. The effort pays off--it says that what we're doing here is important and worth our time, and whether anyone understands this consciously or not, it is felt, for sure. For me, that meant lit candles, GLASS glasses (as opposed to plastic), a nice set of salt and pepper shakers, butter on a little butter plate or dish, and place mats.

Since I was always on an incredibly tight budget (feeding a family of nine on $20 or less a month--more on how this was done in other posts), I learned to be very resourceful. I always got my candles on sale at Walmart and the glasses at the thrift store. If a glass broke, it was no big deal because I could get another one for a quarter at the thrift store (they didn't need to match necessarily--they just needed to be a similar size). And the thrift store was where I found my salt and pepper shakers and butter dish as well.

But the place mats--THAT was the real creative accomplishment! I was browsing a furniture store one day ("Just looking, thank you."), and I spied some upholstery sample books lying in a corner. I started thumbing through them (not sure why--I wasn't in the market to re-upholster anything) and creative genius hit me. The samples were the same size as place mats! I asked what the destiny of these books was, and a sales lady told me they were headed to the trash. "Could I take them off your hands, then?" "Of course, help yourself!" So I did.

I cut out all the samples in the green family and all the samples in the blue family. Then I stitched under the raw edge where they'd been removed from the book. While the prints didn't match, it didn't matter--they were the same size. So one day I'd set the table with a green theme, the next day we'd have a blue theme going on. SO cute! And an added bonus: because they were upholstery fabric, they'd been Scotch-Guarded! HAH--easy to clean as well.

I share these ideas just to get YOUR creative juices flowing. What can you do throughout this new year to set an inviting table? Since we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths, this piece of the family dinner hour really does matter and will bring you big dividends.

Tomorrow I will talk about another GREAT resource I've found that will be a big help to our family dinner efforts, so please come back. But now I want to close with a quote I found on another wonderful blog,, from Marion Cunningham (aka Fanny Farmer): "So many people are searching for something in their lives. They look outside themselves because they're not making ties within the family or in their personal lives. I'm not such a fool that I think the world's problems can be solved by sharing a plate of food around the dinner table. But it is an easy and important place to start." Don't you agree? Thanks Pam, for sharing this inspiring quote, and thanks to all of you that are part of this needful movement to bring the family back to the dinner table. So until next time, here's to making family dinner hour possible!


  1. Alice, you are inspiring! You are a very resouceful, creative lady and I like your style! Love the place mat idea; I never would have thought of that. Very unique and creative! Glad you liked the quote and thank you for the reference. Hope you're having a great day! Pam

  2. You did such a great job today - You inspired me! We have a table that we have topped with a sheet of solid glass (kind pricey but it's been great) it's fun to stick photos, souvenirs, moments, programs, artwork underneath it over the years.