Creative ways to lay your dinner party table

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  • Wow your guests with these ideas (and no one will notice what you’re serving!)

    The guest list has gone out and the menu is sorted. Don’t let your table desert you in your quest to throw the dinner party to end all dinner parties…

    1. Print photo place names

    While your budget might not stretch to a photobooth, you can pick up a Polaroid-style camera for £69 online.
    On arrival, get guests to pose for a funny snap and print them off for photo placemats on your table. Save one print for a tipsy-induced group selfie, naturally.

    2. Display your blooms

    Several bunches of the same flowers make a beautiful centre piece for your table. Choose matching jugs or vases (of the same or varying height) and line them up along the middle of your table. Remember to look at the height when you’re selecting your blooms and vases so you don’t cut the table in half.

    3. Serve on slates

    Pick up wall and floor tile samples from the usual shop suspects for a unusual twist on standard placemats. They are cheap and wipe clean. Win, win!

    4. Choose a table runner

    Ditch your usual bulky waterproof tablecloth and choose a fancy runner instead. Prints work particularly well for this, but if that’s a bit prim and pretty for your look you can always go industrial instead. A layer of light concrete down the centre would certainly make a conversation point (but remember it would be permanent and not just for the par-tay!).

    5. Put a ring on it

    Napkin rings don’t have to be dull loops in white. Search Etsy for unusual prints and styles or tuck a fresh bloom inside a plain ring to lift your table display.

    6. Doodle designs

    Lay each place with a chalkboard and provide chalk for each person. Impromptu Pictionary, anyone? Use PVA glue to fix a piece of felt to the base of the tile if you’re worried about table scratches.

    7. Provide menus

    Menu cards are a very cheap and easy way to add a touch of luxury to your dinner party. Buy some nice card and a silver pen and choose the friend with the best handwriting to write the cards.

    8. Glass painting

    If the group you’re throwing the do for are a bunch of crafty giraffes, this is perfect for keeping them occupied between courses. Buy a box of cheap and cheerful champagne glasses (supermarkets are your best bet) and provide a few pots of glass paints and brushes. Our top tip for this? Use a tablecloth you don’t like…

    9. Add a touch of magic to your tablecloth

    Look out for thin sheer fabric, and layer it over scattered silver stars on top of your tablecloth. They give just enough shine through the cloth to add a touch of sparkle to proceedings.

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