In this post: Looking for table decor ideas for a special luncheon? Here are 10 tips for creating a simple but lovely table setting for lunch.⇒
Do you have have friends over for lunch?
I’m not talking about a formal luncheon for a special event, but just a group of friends or family members who you’d like to catch up with.
While it may not require pulling out the wedding china, setting a pretty, casual table is a wonderful way to upgrade the gathering and welcome some added pleasure into your life.
You may be bringing sandwiches in from the local deli, but there’s no reason to eat out of the paper they were wrapped in. Styling a simple but lovely table setting is a practiced art and one that is well worth a tiny bit of extra effort.
For me, a well set table honors the people you are dining with and is one of the small graces that can elevate the tone of your day and your frame of mind. For this reason I incorporate lovely things on my table on a daily basis and I even try to do this when dining alone.
Much of this table setting comprises my everyday dishes because I often buy things I love, to use all the time. For a special lunch, they just need to be put together in a charming and creative way, which can then be punctuated by a few exceptional items.
Following are my 10 tips for arranging a lovely table setting for lunch.
10 Tips for a Lovely Table Setting for Lunch
1. It all starts with the dinner plates. A solid but textured dinner plate makes a great foundation upon which to build your more interesting elements. I often use the same dinner plates over and over, so I stay with neutral colors like white or cream. I tend to have a small “wardrobe” of the colors I use most often and a much larger selection of the accent salad plates that go on top.
A pretty texture in the same base color as the top plate will help frame it in a lovely way, and despite the fact that it’s solid, it should still be similar in concept to what will go on top. Here the pattern I used has an English countryside feel (in fact that’s the name of the pattern – see resource list below).
2. Pick a patterned salad plate to drive the theme of your entire table. This is where the table’s identity will often come from. The pairing of salad and dinner plate is where the magic can happen and it’s more budget friendly to buy only the salad plates when you find a new pattern that you love.
The ones used here are called Desserts Gourmand from Gien, a pattern that has been discontinued, but I’ve linked some below that are currently available on eBay. If they’re sold out, check back from time to time, or find something similar in the same spirit. I love that they incorporate French text for dessert recipes, but you can select something that works with your own theme.
3. A linen napkin can make all the difference in any table setting and it’s one of the things that sets the table apart from an ordinary day to day table. I love the barely-there blush pink color of these sweet napkins and the delicate ruffle adds an extra note of feminine whimsy.
If I were dining alone I might use paper napkins but I’d still select a pattern that is delightful to look at and comes in a paper of a nice quality.
4. Add sparkle with special napkin rings. A napkin ring alone can make an enormous difference to your tablescape, as evidenced by the ones here that add just the right note of bling. I love their mix of vintage patina and crystal shine, even though these rings are not very old.
The crystal and brass rings were originally found at Pottery Barn, and they are amongst my very favorites. Unfortunately, they don’t carry them anymore, but occasionally I’ve seen them on eBay or similar sources. I’ve linked other napkin ring options, below, that are equally as special and would have a similar impact on the table set for lunch.
5. Add another layer of interest with a subtle patterned mug. Perhaps it’s my background in the fashion industry, but I love to mix patterns when setting a table, as if I’m designing a coordinated collection. Instead of matchy-matchy coffee mugs, add subtle interest with slightly different patterns.
The mugs below work well with the salad plates, in color and spirit, utilizing a casual script and naif drawn imagery. Yet the patterns are not the same at all. Once again, the mug set is no longer available, but I’ve linked similar options below. The key point is to mix imagery that works well together and on my table the European countryside is the inspiration that ties them all together.
6. One of the most special elements you can add to any table is fresh flowers. No doubt you saw this one coming, as I’m crazy about fresh flowers. I do try to have them in my kitchen at all times, but there are also great versions of ‘real-touch’ faux flowers that can tide you over between buying fresh bouquets. These early summer peonies are my favorite flower, and I’m thrilled to see them in stores now all year long.
7. Include wine goblets. Even if you’re not having wine with your lunch, it’s always nice to add goblets which can be used for water or iced tea. This is one of the elements that really ups the ante of this table and takes it a step further out of the ordinary. If you use glasses that can be put in the dishwasher to make life easy, there’s really no reason you can’t do this every single day.
The amber crackle goblets add a subtle touch of color, picking up the warm tones from the salad plates.
8. Water glasses in a cut crystal pattern bring a nice glimmer to the tablescape. If you are having wine, add a separate water glass and once again mixing patterns adds another layer of interest. These glasses are weighty and are the glasses I drink from every single day.
9. Add a pretty platter of sweets. Of course the food you serve helps define the nature of your meal, but one thing that can elevate even the most casual of lunches is a lovely plate of sweets to end the afternoon.
(I could almost add an eleventh tip which would be sunlight streaming through a large window! If only we could control that… ;-))
10. Top everything off with a crystal chandelier. Ok, this is not quite part of the tabletop but crowning the setting, a crystal chandelier makes every event special. This vintage chandy was purchased at a local antique shop and brings just the right note of shimmer to this relaxed get together. Having this piece in my breakfast room makes every meal just a little bit nicer.
I talk often about adding small pleasures to life and enhancing the rituals you engage in daily. These tiny luxuries make a huge difference in the quality of your routines, which adds up to a more genteel lifestyle.
Why not create a lovely table setting for lunch this week? A little bit of effort goes a long way to making a casual luncheon with friends all the more special.
It sure beats eating out of plastic containers!
Table Setting for Lunch Resource List
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
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