Tables With A Theme

UPDATE:  Now that the entire series has been written, here are the posts…

PART 1:  The TOPICAL Theme

I told you in my last post that I had the fun of doing an interview for Carbona’s StainTalk blog. You can read it HERE. While they really wanted the “down and dirty” on several subjects, I was surprised that the very first question they asked was about tablescaping; specifically, what advice I would give.


This was my response:


For someone just learning to tablescape, … start with a topical theme and work from there; it helps you stay focused.


As promised in my last post, I’ve decided to expand the “working with a theme” idea by doing several additional posts here on my blog … so let’s get started.


Whether you consider yourself a seasoned tablescaper, a tablescaper wannabe, or just a reeeally smart cookie, I’m going to bet you know that tablescaping involves some sort of table — or at least a flat surface.


(See what I mean about needing to be a reeeally smart cookie?)


It might be a full-size family table in the dining room …


 a table in the living room — perfect for an intimate “tea for two” …


or an old “cover me with a cloth and I’ll look a lot better” table on the porch …


Whatever face it wears, it’s your blank canvas. So, yes, that makes YOU the artist!  Not comfortable with that description? Let’s see what we can do to help you find some confidence!


 I recently had a conversation with someone who is NOT a tablescaper; she might be a closet tablescaper wannabe, but I’m not sure. She said things to me like, “I wouldn’t know where to start” and “there are so many choices, how do you ever decide?” If you find yourself having those same thoughts (and I suspect we all do from time to time), perhaps what I told her will help you, too.


First let’s address the “so many choices” challenge. I’ve found that when you’re just learning to tablescape, it helps to pick a topical theme. One of the most common topical themes is HOLIDAYS. Most people who’ve never heard the word “tablescape” do some sort of holiday tablescape, even if it’s as simple as a store-bought floral centerpiece.


The most common holiday theme is probably Christmas …

Click to see the original tablescape post.


followed by Halloween …
Click to see the original tablescape post.


and Thanksgiving …
Click to see the original tablescape post.


When you’re ready to venture out beyond holidays, however, there really is no end to the possibilities!

Some of the following pictures are better than others, but since “a picture is worth a thousand words,” I’m going to include them. Some I took; some friends took. Some were pre-blog/pre-good camera days. Some are favorites.


In no particular order (while realizing that “topics” can be loosely interpreted, overlap, etc.) I’ll pick several random ones and show you what I mean.


Children’s Stories

A variety of authors …
Click to see the original tablescape post.


… or just one — with a little bit of “childlike and whimsical” thrown in for good measure …


Or you might prefer a more “grown-up” interpretation and presentation.
You DO recognize Humpty Dumpty, don’t you?


A day of casual fun in the sun …


or a moonlit stroll …
Click to see the original tablescape post.


Whether sports are “your thing” or not, it’s a timeless topic. You could even do the HISTORY of a particular sport; history is a sub-topic of just about anything! 


Obviously you know by the VHS tapes that this tablescape is a few years old — but the idea is still a fun one! The table hostess printed a “favorite quotes from movies” booklet for each guest. 


Destination (A specific place — country, state, city, etc.)
As with some of the topics above, the destination Hawaii lends itself to very different interpretations of the same theme.


Here’s an “expected” or traditional interpretation: think grass skirt, lei, hibiscus, pineapple … 
Click to see the original tablescape post.


… while this one presents the “expected” orchids, sand, and seashells in a less traditional way.
Click to see the original tablescape post.


Culture (The arts, colors, etc. specific to a particular place)
This is an example of Americana.


A favorite hobby
(In this case it’s gardening — which could be an entire topic of its own!)


A book or poem


Single variety of flower
This entire tablescape centered around pink roses. 
Click here to see the original tablescape post.


 Family pets




A favorite collection
This table showcases a collection of vintage kitchen items.
Click to see the original tablescape post.


Family treasures
Everything on this table is a family treasure. 
Click here to see the original tablescape post.


Pitchers of various sizes and shapes take center stage.
Click to see the original tablescape post.


By now I certainly do hope your creative juices are flowing freely, but what if they’re not?


What if …
you have no children or grandchildren, hate salty sea air, think sports — and movies — are a waste of time and money, are a homebody who doesn’t like to travel and has no hobbies (not even reading), have severe allergic reactions to flowers and pets … and (while recovering from the last such incident) your “helpful” friend accidentally threw away the only collection you ever had — along with the rest of your family’s treasures … and repetition gives you a headache?  What then?  Is there any chance you can find a topic for your tablescape?

Of course there is!


got milk?
Please don’t tell me you’re lactose intolerant!



I’m enjoying putting together this series of posts showing the metamorphosis of a tablescape: from empty flat surface to open-armed invitation.  How about you?  Have you ever done a tablescape with a topical theme?  If so, leave a comment and tell me what the theme was and how you interpreted it. We’d all love to know! (Yes, I realize … Some of you have done many.  I guess you’ll just have to pick one or two to share.)


Thanks so much for stopping by today. While you’re waiting on me to finish writing Part 2 of Tables With A Theme, I hope you’ll start thinking about a few topical tablescapes you want to try … and while you’re at it — have a great week!


Join me for these fun parties …
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Blue Monday at Smiling Sally
Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
Inspiration Friday at At The Picket Fence


  1. Lots of fantastic ideas in those table sets! Thanks so much for sharing, I love the Movie themed and the cute children’s books.

  2. Such a fun post! So many pretty table settings it’s hard to choose my favorite. But I’m leaning towards the Dr. Seuss theme. That was so adorable!

  3. These are all so beautiful. I did a bunch of tablescapes last year and earlier this year, but haven’t had the inspiration or gumption for a while. One thing that I really enjoy about tablescaping is all the neat pictures that I can take.

    Thanks for this great post,

    Kathy M.

  4. What great ideas. I just gave you the stylish blogger award here
    and I am a new follower.

  5. Fabulous post-this would inspire anybody! You really showed some cute tablescapes!

  6. I love love love this post! Every picture was new inspiration for me. I honestly think it was a godsend because I’ve been in a dry spell in many areas, and it affects my creativity. This just jazzed me up so much. I’m going to come back and read it and go on a link adventure when I have more time.

    I’ve done a few theme tables. Our first table on the blog was a cow theme. We’ve done magnolias, golf, and ice cream themes that I can think of right at the moment.

    Great post!

  7. It is so addictive isn’t it?! These are all beautiful tables. Thank you for sharing!


  8. Wow That was “”FUN””, I’m going to be running through each one of those a few more times!!!
    Thank you for sharing your creative juices! Much appreciated!!!
    Have a wonderful week,
    Hugs to you,

  9. Happy Tuesday!

    Lovely tables, true metamorphosis.

    If you get a chance, please stop by my blog and enter the giveaway.

  10. I loved seeing those! Some are very creative! Yes, I’ve done several themed tables. Pool, Teddy bear picnic, games, etc. It is fun!
    Thanks for sharing !

  11. Hi Susan…

    Ohhh…what a spectacular series to run on your blog! I love, love, LOVE IT! I love to tablescape and consider myself to be somewhat of a “seasoned” tablescaper and I found this post to be very insightful and inspirational! Your writing style is awesome and I was very entertained. Have you ever considered authoring a book on tablescaping? I see the “makings” in this post for certain! I love how you are getting down to the basics…often times we take for granted that someone should just know how to do this! So…soooo good, my friend! I loved your idea photos as well! Ohhh my…each and every tablescape was beautiful and so creative! Thank you so much for writing and sharing this series with us.

    I think that this may be my first time to your blog. Just wanted to let you know that I’m adding your delightful blog to my list of blog follows. I am looking forward to following your “Tablescaping Series”…as well as looking back through your past posts! So very nice to meet you, Susan!

    Warmest wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  12. Hi Susan…

    It’s just lil’ ol’ me again! I wanted to leave you a second comment…I must admit that I am a bit embaressed. I mentioned that I hadn’t ever been to your blog before and that I was adding you to my list of blog follows. Well, I have been going back through your past posts…which I might say…have sooo enjoyed! But…I realized after coming upon one of your past posts that you have actually joined in with my little Sunday Favorites (repost) party. Sooo…I have been to your lovely blog before! How awkward! I am so sorry! Can I just mark my mistake up to old age? I often find myself having “senior moments”! So sorry, my friend!

    Have a wonderful day!

  13. What a fabulous post!!!! I’m going back to go over it AGAIN!! I am a beginner @ tablescaping. But I’m having such fun!

  14. Such an encouraging post for newbies. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your wonderful tips. Cherry Kay

  15. Hi Susan! This was such a neat post and I got all sorts of great ideas! I especially loved the book themed table. Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Inspiration Friday this week!