To cover vessels in twine, use carpet tape and start wrapping from the top of the object. Don’t worry about irregularities; rough-hewn is the look you want. Cover glass votive holders with cut-to-fit pieces of linen from the napkin and tie with twine.
For place-card holders, use shears to cut twigs about 4 inches long. Bundle and tie them, tucking in name tags. Invest in one special item from the flower shop (for example, green-dyed milo berries, as shown here filling a twig box), and troll the yard for the rest. Scoop moss into a tin and finish it with acorns; stick juniper in low bottles, fern fronds in taller ones. Add cattails for even more height (they are just right for the brown-green palette).
Cluster vessels in the center of the table, placing short near tall and fuzzy near smooth. Stark used cutting boards as chargers, but this look is perfect with plain white plates.
3 of 8Ditte Isager
Idea: A Playful Presentation of Wax-Art Plates and Crayon Bouquet
Designed by Celerie Kemble
Supply Shopping List
Six-inch Styrofoam ball ($6, all supplies here from Michaels, michaels.com for stores)
10 boxes of generic nontoxic crayons ($10)
Silicone cupcake molds ($10 for 12)
Blue finger paint ($1.50)
4 of 8Ditte Isager
How to Do It
For the kids’ end of the table, crayons and melted wax provide after-dinner activities: drawing and peeling. (The wax is on the bottom plate, which acts as a charger, so it’s not near food.) To make the crayon bouquet, slice a third off the Styrofoam ball to create a flat bottom, then cover the ball with finger paint. When dry, insert crayons close together, starting at the top and using only bright colors.
For the plates, take a few crayons in roughly the same shade (say, several blues), break them in half, peel off the paper, and place in an individual cupcake mold (you can fit about 10 in each mold). When you’ve filled three or four molds with different shades, put them on a cookie sheet and pop into a 450˚ F oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove carefully; pour the wax across a plate, tipping it to make an abstract shape. The wax hardens in seconds, so work fast. Decorate the outsides of glasses the same way. To clean up, stick plates in the freezer; the cold wax comes off easily.
5 of 8Ditte Isager
Idea: A Beautiful Mix of Real Blooms and Paper Flowers
Use a light-colored runner or tablecloth and tissue paper in the same shade. To make the flowers, cut the paper into 4-inch squares. Stack three squares and fold in half. Mark the center of the folded edge with a pencil, and cut the corners so they are rounded. Hold the paper at the pencil mark and crimp to make a nub. Wrap wire around the nub to secure, and cover the wire and the flower base with tape. Then unfold and separate the layers.
Lay a manzanita branch (or some other branch from your yard or local flower shop) on the table. Attach the flowers to the branch in loose pairs. Using tape, wind the remaining flowers together in twos, curve the stems, and rest on each plate.
Clip the orchids off their stem. Balance the blooms in nooks on the branch and scatter a few on the table. Surround the centerpiece with votives placed in an irregular circle.
7 of 8Ditte Isager
Idea: A Colorful Combo of Stripes and Blooms
Designed by Jeffrey Miller
Supply Shopping List
Two quarts of Behr paint, in Appletini and Peacock Tail ($19, homedepot.com for stores)
Cut the kraft paper so it’s six inches longer than your table. Spread the paper on the floor on top of a drop cloth and mark 3-inch columns in pencil. With a 1-inch brush, paint all the teal stripes. Next, paint the green stripes, layering a bit on top of the teal edges to cover the paper completely (paint a day in advance). When it’s dry, trim the kraft paper so you’re left with a 3-inch border around the table (no need to be exact). Lay down the paper tablecloth, then top with your painted creation.
Go with rectangular paper guest towels―they’re bolder and more elegant than typical napkins. Dinner plates with simple edging add to the graphic punch, but solid plates work, too. Finally, choose carnations that match some table elements (here, the napkins and the plates). Arrange them in bunches, then twist the stems to keep the blooms in place.