Our Top Tips For The Best Dressed Table

One of life’s greatest pleasures is to gather a group of friends and loved ones around a table for good food, great conversation and gales of laughter – and never has that been more important than in our world today. While schedules are fit to burst thanks to working commitments and activities, we’re so often left with precious little time to lavish on the ones that we love.

The family that eats together stays together as the old adage says so it is important that we make time for special occasions when we can relax and be in the moment and enjoy time with the people that matter. Flowers are an important addition to any table whether it’s a lone tulip in a bud vase at breakfast table or a banquet festooned with flowers for fine dining experience. Flowers will provide a delightful conversation point, a welcome injection of colour, or a fragrant addition to any gathering – and a reminder of nature’s awe-inspiring beauty, of course! There are some dos and don’ts when it comes to arranging flowers for entertaining so with that in mind we bequeath to you some of our top tips for fabulous party flowers.

Hit the Spot
Let’s face it, table real estate for most parties is as scarce as affordable housing in these parts so staking your claim to a chunk of the available space might be wise from the outset. Don’t be shy about this. Your flowers will compete with plates cutlery, glasses, bottles of wine and the florist’s pariah of any dining table – bread. An ill-placed basket of carbs can seriously impair the aesthetic punch of the most beautiful flowers (aside from the blood sugar havoc the stuff can cause). Use your influence to switch clumsy basket to the plate and take ownership of as much of that space as you can. Get clear measurements of you working area – most florists will have, on at least one occasion, had to reconfigure a beautiful large display to a smaller size after the last minute stand-off with a waiter laying the table at an event, and it can get nasty. Stake your claim, stand your ground, and hold your nerve.

Private party flower at Avenue Restaurant
Private party flower at Avenue Restaurant

Highs and Lows
A low table design will suit all eventualities; it’s the failsafe option for any gathering. as it lets the conversation flow without interruption. A high design is perfect for maximum impact and this works well on larger tables and venues that have high ceilings or a traditional decor. Avoid having flowers placed at the crucial eye level. Flowers above the head do give an opulent ambience for a fabulous party and work event better with additional low additions to complete a look. There is no denying that there will be some degree of obstruction between guests at the table though. Every single party will have at least one or two delicate inter-guest relation conflicts that need to be managed; strategically seating frenemies opposite each other is a good way of managing the situation. Vases need to be tall, slender and preferably clear glass to minimise disruption and interrupt conversation flow.

It goes without saying that tall vase table flowers are better for more formal and sober occasions and not a hedonistic blowout party. There are some clear health and safety concerns when choosing tall table options. Tequila shots, tipsy stumbles and misjudged attempts to dance on tables could have perilous repercussions. Your party needs to be memorable for all the right reasons.

A celebration of colour for a wedding in Mayfair
A celebration of colour for a chic wedding in Mayfair

Vases and Containers
We are all familiar with one gorgeous centrepiece to sit in the middle of a table; this is always going to work beautifully. It’s tried and tested and provides a winning combination of flowers that guarantees success but if you are looking to create some real impact with interest, then a combination of vases and containers can look spectacular. It’s always a good idea to match the choice of your container to the decor or theme of the event or indeed the type of food that’s being served. Sleek containers can look out of place when laid on a table serving rustic food, and jam jars can look great for a casual affair, but they have become something of a cliché thanks to the wonders of Pinterest; we say the best thing to put in jam jars is jam. Be creative; a carefully curated assortment of vessels at varying heights can look utterly charming, and won’t need a barrow full of flowers to boot.

Flowers and candles
Flowers and candles

Heaven Scent
Fragrance is a very personal thing. What one person considers to be heavenly another might find overpowering and actually unpleasant. Heavily-scented flowers can in very rare circumstances invoke a migraine to those that are sensitive so we treat scent very carefully, especially for an intimate gathering. Flowers should complement proceedings and not dominate, particularly where food is concerned. The best host will look after vegans, vegetarians, attention seekers and a plethora of food intolerance scenarios. It’s worth finding out if there are any particular sensitivities or allergies coming out to play. A large ballroom with tables of twelve people might absorb the floral fragrance of stock or hyacinth for a party; these could choke guests if used on a smaller seating in an intimate space. The removal of flowers from a table at a party because they are either in the way or are an irritant is a cross florists shouldn’t have to bear.

Classic white including lily of the valley
Classic white including scented lily of the valley

Flower Choices                                                                                                     

Working with the seasons is always best. Flowers that are in season are bigger, perkier, are less expensive and will always go down a treat with your guests. What could be better than tulips in March, narcissi in April, peony in May or English garden roses in June? A mixture of flower and foliage is great for an informal display or a mass of one type of flowers for a bolder look. Don’t restrict your creativity to flowers. Plants can look sensational if used carefully. There are plenty of rules but they are all there to be broken; experiment and have some fun!

A festive party celebration

Improve your Skills                                                                                                     

We can’t resist this opportunity to extol the virtues of McQueens Flower School to gain a bit of understanding about working with flowers. Our master-classes are the perfect place to start for those with little or no experience. Conditioning, buying and caring for flowers are crucial to creating the best flower displays. The classes are a combination of tutor-led demonstrations and practical projects. And you’ll also discover that gaining an understanding of working with flowers is not just informative – it’s also lots of fun!

Click her to learn more about McQueens Flower School