Written by Sally I. Barcelo
Photograph by Dan Austin
Lighting by Paul Bostrom
Prop Styling by Lisa Malott
Special Thanks: Cob & Pen
The ever-evolving art of hosting a dinner party.
Emily Waters, one of Lakeland’s expert tabletop designers and owner of Treasury Rentals – dishware and tabletop rental studio believes that there’s room at the table for everyone’s dinner party style.
The dinner party isn’t a modern invention; it has ancient roots, going as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held massive feasts with dozens of guests. In fact, people have gathered together over food for centuries, and the dinner party has evolved time and time again throughout history.
Consider the Victorians and their elaborate tableware, from silverware (made out of silver), specialty glassware, variety in dishes, spoons, and forks for every course and food – the Victorians established the tone for elaborate and opulent dinner parties.
Then, by the mid-century period, as the post-war economy boomed and the middle class grew, it became common for people to entertain guests in their homes. The period’s prosperity and housewives theme brought forth the idea of glamorous dinner parties at home, such as the ones you’d see in a scene from the Netflix series, “Mad Men.”
Over the past decade or so, we’ve been on an upward trend of becoming a more casual society with each generation that comes of age. Some people prefer oversized bathrooms and closets over formal living and dining rooms, wearing jeans to the office is normal, and engaged couples no longer typically include china on their wedding registries.
This new way of living doesn’t mean that the tradition of dinner parties is long-gone, it just means that we’ve entered a new era. While some of us would opt for a classic traditional place setting with all of the glasses and coupes, others may decide on a more informal approach.
Treasury Rentals is a Lakeland-based tabletop rental company that features an eclectic collection mixing vintage pieces with a modern design. Since 2013, Emily has shared her love for gatherings, special meals and celebrations through Treasury Rentals. Her passion for beautiful china and perfectly set tables was passed down from Emily’s grandmother, Bettie Lou.
For Emily, dressing a table is both an art form and a tradition to be passed down from one generation to the next. “Growing up, the table was always properly set. It didn’t matter if the dishes were china or disposable, if it was a home-cooked meal or McDonald’s, we set the table every night,” says Emily.
Like most businesses, Treasury Rentals has added new collections and altered their service offerings over the years to fit the needs of their customers and industry trends. With this in mind, the Water’s are excited to announce the upcoming launch of “Treasury at-Home”, a unique service that will only add to their continued mission in “making gatherings beautiful and accessible for all”.
The first of its kind in Lakeland, “Treasury at Home” is a rental kit that will allow customers to rent as little as 4, 8, and 12+ place settings for gatherings of all types. In addition to renting a kit, the Treasury Rental platform will also offer tips and tricks to set the table according to your style needs and make your table come to life.
Emily plans to offer “Treasury at Home” customers the same 1:1 design help, consultation, and personalized experience that Treasury Rentals already offers its current customers with larger-scale events. “The key is to properly equip the “Treasury at Home” customer with tools to enjoy the process and the art of hosting dinner parties”, says Emily. “We truly believe that no event is too small to celebrate, and every table deserves to be dressed beautifully for guests to enjoy.”
At every dinner party, the food is sure to shine, but the table itself sets the bar for what could be a fun and special evening. Although owning really nice china, silverware, and tabletop decor for every themed dinner party we ever dreamed of is the goal – think sustainability and practicality when it comes to preparing for your dinner party, a combination of the “Treasury at Home” kit may be the solution to making our dinner party goals a reality.
Most traditional linens include a version of an ironed white linen tablecloth that covers the full table, but you could also use a table runner or individual placemats at each setting to vary the look of your table and transition from formal to casual, or show off a particularly beautiful table if you prefer. “For a table runner, it depends on the shape of your table. I would never really suggest a table runner on a round table, but for a long table, a table runner would be a really nice compliment. For an oval table, it’s going to be according to an individual’s preference and then whether or not there is a practical purpose behind having the table runner in place to protect the table”, explains Emily.
For centerpieces, flowers are the classic staple and can vary in height and size depending on your approach to the evening and the table size available. “Are you planning on the centerpiece remaining in the center of the table or are you moving it to the buffet after guests sit down?”, asks Emily. Answering this question will help you plan accordingly and decide whether you can have full creative freedom or design in a way that meets the needs of guests and their ability to interact with one another during dinner. “One of the most important details is being mindful of the use of space and scale.
Depending on the number of courses you’re serving, you’ll need different plates and bowls, but a traditionally set the table (before dinner service begins) will have a charger, dinner plate, bread plate, and either a salad plate or soup bowl. Plates will be stacked in that order, except for the bread plate, which should be placed at the top-left corner of each place setting. “Chargers tend to take up a lot of space and aren’t really meant for regular-sized tables so most of our “Treasury at Home” kit options will only include dinner plates, salad plates, bread plates, and then you can opt for a duplicate dessert plate if you would like. The option to include a charger is available if you were to need it.”, says Emily. Overall, the place setting is swayed by the style of the meal (number of courses) and desired formality of the table.
Again, the number and types of courses will dictate what silverware your table needs. The Treasury at Home” kit will come fully equipped with illustrated cards on how to set the table. The kit includes more casual options such as a full set of flatware and a three or four-piece setting of flatware. In addition, you always have the ability to include any add-ons. So if you need to add extra salad forks, appetizer forks, dinner forks, and sorbet spoons, you will have the option to add on as much as you need.
Your glassware decisions will (stem) from your drink offerings, and how formal or informal you would like your place setting to look. Stemware options and placement is a place where you can break all of the rules to do what works for your setting and budget.
The Details and Decorations
Once you have the essential pieces for each place setting, it’s time to add the details that will make your table extra special. When picking a color palette, you can let your china pattern guide you.
Place cards are not necessary but extremely helpful, they not only add a personal touch that makes guests feel special, but they also help eliminate the awkward let’s figure out where everyone is sitting part of the night.