Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Invitation ~ Dress a Table with Me

"Let's eat!"
Are there vegetables?
Schoolwork, crafts, and mail are pushed aside to make room for the bowls.  Four kids drag themselves to the table,  shove food down their faces in record time and flop off their chairs with stuffed mouths to continue the activity that was so rudely disrupted by the untimely meal. Crumbs are left scattered all over the table, chairs, and floor.  Well that's a fine kettle of fish I grumble to myself as I either sweep up or dream of sweeping up while I nurse a hungry baby, also spilling food as I try to eat and nurse at the same time.  This little fiasco may or may not happen most every day.

As it may be apparent by the entries in this blog, I love food.  I love to eat.  I love connecting with people over good food.  How on earth can I impart this love to my children and continue to serve nourishing dishes?  Why have I allowed my kids to be so sloppy, grumpy, and picky? and how can I correct this?  Well, French Kids Eat Everything inspired me to try something new that just might help solve this issue.  The French dress their table for every meal.  Even childrens' tables.  I wondered what would happen if I dressed my table, cloth napkins and all?  Thus began a new experiment.  

As the baby napped, I slipped outside to join the children, scissors in hand.  
"What are you doing, mama?"
"I am clipping things to decorate our table with."
They followed and watched.
As much as I enjoy it, flower arrangement isn't a natural talent.  I returned inside, filled a mason jar with water and plunged the ends of all the foliage collected.  Smoothing out a table runner with my hands, I could feel the French's disapproval of my still-wrinkly runner, but it was almost snack time and I needed to commence this new experiment.  The flower-filled mason jar was centered on the table with two little vegetable wax candles on either side.  Cloth napkins were set out, spoons placed on top (no, not a complete setting.  Spoons were all we needed).

I called the children to table and their eyes lit up.
"Oooh!  Are those the flowers you picked?  They're so pretty!  Look at the table!"  
Captivated by the appearance of the table, wrinkly runner and all, they sat down without asking if there was vegetables in a voice that threatens a protest.
"Cloth napkins!"  The girls squealed.  "How princessy!"
"Boys put napkins in their shirts and girls put 'em on their laps"  Our son instructed.
Wow.  I didn't realize they already knew such refineries.  Now was my chance.
"Let's keep this table looking nice.  Eat over your bowls and keep your food and spoons over them, too.  I'd like to see how neat you can all eat."

There was a sweetness, a pleasantness that graced the table during snack time.  It seemed the dressed-up table evoked kind, quiet conversation.  Everyone seemed to want to preserve the beauty of the atmosphere the new table ushered in.  Snacks were finished, faces were wiped, and to my utter surprise, there were no crumbs to be found on the table, chairs, or floor.  It was a French-inspired miracle!

Now, I don't assume the pretty table has solved every issue and bad habit that rears it's head at mealtime, but it was definitely a start.  Besides, it's just plain lovely to sit at a table that's been spruced up a bit.  It adds value to the time we spend together as a family and friends when we gather around the table to share a meal.  I aspire to continue this new tradition.

I spent the night looking for simple, pleasing table settings I could get inspiration from and started a new board on Pinterest dedicated just to dressing tables.  Much to my dismay, tables only seem to be set for weddings and fancy parties.  I only found a handful of simple table-dressing ideas, and most were for nice outdoor parties.

This is where the invitation comes in.  I think it might be fun to share ideas with each other 


  1. LadyofthehomeschoolApril 24, 2012 at 5:20 AM

    Loved this post!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts from the book (so interesting) and launching this experiment in a way we can all be inspired by. I'm excited to join in! I have been working this week to get my interest boards rolling so this will be perfect timing for me :o)

    I have been feeling a bit discouraged lately about the subject of tables.....we homeschool too and in a small home. This means my kitchen table is my craft station, school desks, and needs to be available for 3+ meals a day. I do feel like doing something to signal that we are transitioning to meal time, like dressing the table, would be helpful to everyone. Now I need to get creative.....what will this mean to us......we can't keep it dressed all of the time because of the aforementioned multi-purpose uses of the table but maybe I can keep a basket of "clothes" close at hand and ready?

    Anyway, fun inspiration for this morning :o) Thanks

  2. I can totally identify with you! We have to "undress" the table during the day, too, to make room for homeschooling. I think that makes dinner time an even more special time because the table totally transforms and signals a change in activity and mood from study to pleasure and connection. It *is* one extra thing to do, but I'm kinding the kids really like to help with it! I hope you enjoy trying this out; it'll be fun sharing notes. :)

  3. I like this very much and will be giving it a try! Only one question... Does it work on husbands? I'm thinking mine would be immune to such niceties...

  4. I would have never thought of dressing a table for an everyday meal, but I like the idea. We also live in small quarters and don't have a dinner table so to speak, but I might pick up a fold-away table...even a card table looks nice with a tablecloth on it.

  5. Haha, well, it took a little more persuading with my husband ("Babe, it's important to me that we all sit down together and enjoy some time around the table. And please keep the table clean.") :) Haha

  6. *Hi* I am a stay-at-home (homeschooling) mother of 4... and I have always taken the extra time and effort to dressing the table--and setting the table, as in putting all the food in serving dishes (even chips poured in a nice bowl). Most people have thought I am crazy to "add" so much "extra" work and clean-up, but my family has always *enjoyed* it! :) They *still* "Oooh" and "Aaah" over our meals and the "table"... after 19 years of marriage :) My children are older now (10,14,16,18) but they still love our mealtimes together <3 It's a nice reward, to know you've made your family feel special :)

  7. i don't always fully dress the table, but we do have candles in the middle (not always lit, but they sure love it when they are!) and when i do have fresh flowers in the house i like to put them on the table to enjoy. we always eat at the table and talk about our days together and i love the bonding over mealtime. i would love to get a table runner to use as well and some cute cloth napkins. i think not having a tv helps us congregate at the table to enjoy the evening. love your post!

    my recent post: introducing...

  8. michaelspretty girlrwinApril 24, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Love ♥ I have always loved dressing the table. Even when I was a little girl I would pick flowers and things (usually weeds that always made my Dad sneeze) and put them in jars for the table. It's just something I've always enjoyed. Now my kids love it, too. Even my boys will sometimes put their own special touches on it. (Rule: nothing can jump onto plates! :)) Glad you enjoy it, too. Happy Day!

  9. I have four sons and a young (age 2) daughter. I love the idea here, but I'm not sure how much my boys will "get" it. Worth a try, though...

  10. I have four sons and a young (age 2) daughter. I love the idea here, but I'm not sure how much my boys will "get" it. Worth a try, though...

  11. Haha, I love it. :) Such a great family tradition you're passing down.

  12. That's so wonderful! And it is totally rewarding to make your family feel special. :)

  13. I love this idea! But...I have four sons and one young (2 years old) daughter, and I'm not sure my boys would "get" it. It's worth trying, though.

  14. My son surprised me with his interest in it. I think it felt special is all. :)


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