Pretty dinner table EVERYDAY – is it doable?

I have been meaning to improve our home meal presentation.

Maybe exploring new, colourful ingredients, or bringing out some table clothes and napkins (without waiting for formal occasions). Ideally, it would be nice to get to a point where this becomes a second nature, with meals to feast the eyes and satiate the stomachs.

Source: Jamie Oliver

Yet, easier said than done.

Near 6 pm, dinner planning/thinking often escalates into some kind of urgency where practicality trumps all. 3 criteria = Nutritionally-balanced, fast, crowd-pleasing. Food presentation does not really make it to the list. We do try, we really do, to at least have some sort of “order” as a civilized family around the table.

I am quite inspired by images like the ones below (from #MyOpenKitchen):



It may seem like an opportunity for major tableware shopping. The irony is, we have TOO MUCH in our kitchen AND miscellaneous “to be sorted” boxes from my previous homes on the west coast and England. If memory serves me correctly, we have 4 full sets of formal china, one set of casual dinnerware, on top of the 2 sets we use daily. Some include platters, tea sets, etc as well.

Now that we are talking about formal china, I have completely forgotten about the name of the one we received for our wedding. Imagine, that was once a major decision!  I believe the pattern is now discontinued but still available should we need additional items/replacements.

Royal Doulton: Challinor

So back to better food presentation….here’s what I have learned today:

  • Pinterest is the best source for inspirations. Much focus is required, it’s like an ocean of ideas out there.
  • “Food plating”. No, I did not know it is a term/art/skill set. This is a great 101 how-to for people like me.
  • My husband is right….better clear out those miscellaneous boxes ASAP.  Once we’ve done an inventory check, we can get organized and be creative, for real!

If you have tips on presenting family meals (easy, daily), I would love to hear all about it. 


10 thoughts on “Pretty dinner table EVERYDAY – is it doable?”

  1. Great post, Evelyn. I certainly agree with points. I think starting with shopping with the freshest ingredients, make sure to get all colors ( vegetables and fruit). When I put a meal together, I like to use my favorite plates (Heath ceramics is one of my faves). Contrast plating (light colored food such as cheese on dark plates), and contrast the kinds of dishes (small plates, cold and hot). Keep a supply of olives, pickles, roasted peppers, and other foods so I can vary the small plates during the week. We usually have tea light candles on a plank for center display, but it is summer so we haven’t been lighting the candles.

    If you have nice china, I think they are meant to be used. Which reminds me I should break out my silverware!

    1. I know you are great at plating and have always admired your choice of interesting ingredients. You should start a Pinterest board 🙂 What do you for plate mats? The only practical ones we have so far are thick cotton that can be washed and dried in no time. But they do not stay “nice” (no ironing in this house BTW!)….

      1. I do use place mats anymore…. Too crinkly and they do not stay in shape. Rather, we use a 1×6 hard wood plank to define the served plates area and all the places have no mats. Will take a picture when I have a chance.

        1. Good to know that I am not the only one dealing with wrinkly mats. Wood planks – good idea as long as they stay clean hence sanitary…tips? Yes, pics please!

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