Diner en Blanc: Tips on How to Decorate a Prize-Winning Tablescape
So, you’re attending Diner en Blanc and you want to win the coveted honor of “Best Tablescape”. Well, you’re in luck. Because in this post I’m going to share my best tips on how to craft a prize-winning table for DEB from the 2022 winner of best tablescape for Diner en Blanc, Charlotte. Keep reading as I share my 5 tips on creating a beautiful tablescape.
Yes, you read that right, I, (yours truly) won Best Tablescape for the 2022 Diner en Blanc, Charlotte.
That's right, out of 1600 tables (3200 people), my table won! And yes, it was a tremendous honor. *insert blush.
Initially, I didn’t set out to win, but by the time I started to build my table at home, I thought to myself, “self, you might just have a shot here.”
Well, a shot is exactly what I had, and I ended up winning a beautifully curated gift box from Brown Sugar Collab, a local small-business boutique here in Charlotte, along with bragging rights to having won Best Tablescape for one of the world largest outdoor chic picnics.
In this post I’m going to share 5 of my best tips for those who want to compete this year or for those who just want an absolutely fabulous table! Either way, I know you’ll glean a jewel or two that will help you build a remarkable dining display that you and your friends will remember from years to come.
(If you are not familiar with Diner en Blanc or want more details about this fabulous affair, check out my post on the deets here.)
Plan in Advance
Listen, if your table is going to stun, then you need to get serious about this entire process.
People are coming to win the best tablescape or at least get some “oohs and aahs” when folks glance at their layout. This is why it’s important to (1) have and plan and even more important, (2) to start early!
While planning you’ll want to take a few things under consideration:
Get Your Vision
What is your vision for your table? Do you have a theme? What will your centerpiece be and how will you build around it? Your vision is the most important thing when preparing to decorate your table. It is what you will anchor to while you’re laying your tablescape, so get a vision and OWN it!
Get Some Inspo'
We all need a bit of inspriation and we can get it from anywhere.
Believe it or not, the inspo for my prize-winning table was a set of four napkin rings that I found in HomeGoods. They were gold, and beautiful, and I wanted to build my table around them! This sent me on a decorating frenzy that I was fully committed to that I wanted to look absolute divine!
So, what will you use as inspiration? A tablecloth, a vase, a bouquet or a pair of champagne glasses? What do you have that is so beautiful that it would inspire you to build and entire tablescape around? Whatever that thing is, use this as your anchor, and build your masterpiece around it!
Add to Your Anchor
Use different platforms for inspiration on how you want to decorate and accent your table.
Pinterest, Google, and Instagram are all great places to get your imagination flowing and to be inspired by the creativity of others.
Use hashtags like #tablescape #DEB #debtablescapes #weddingtabledecor and #tabledecor to get you started. After that, you’ll end up going down a glorious rabbit hole of talented creators and seeds will be planted to help develop your vision.
Also, don’t just look at all white decor ideas either. Some of the best ideas will be found in color, and you can simply create the “white version of it”.
*Disclaimer - Now, I am not granting you a license to steal other people’s entire tablescape or ideas (no one appreciates a copycat). This research is to simply to stir your brilliance. Let your research inspire you and let your own creativity be you guide!
Perfect Your Tablescape
Once you have an idea of the direction you want your table to take, it’s time to perfect it.
What is your main anchor? Is it your centerpiece, your plates, a tablecloth? What are you building around?
Once you have identified this, you’ll want to make sure that everything you add to your table compliments your main anchor and flows seamlessly. No one thing should be too much while no other thing should lack. You’ll want your table to dazzle throughout (without going overboard).
Decorate with Food
Everyone loves a good food pic.
Food is beautiful… use it to your advantage. Think colors, textures and the unique shapes that food comes in and use these things to make your visuals POP!
With tables being limited to “all white errthing” for the event, you’ll want to delight the eyes of the public with some variety. You can do this with food.
Charcuterie boards and desserts adds tons of color and a little sparkle to your table (they are also delicious, so there’s an added bonus)
Fruits are another way to brighten things up as you decorate. Along with colorful juices in classy carafes or elegantly blinged out water bottles. These are all great ways to add a bit of shimmer to an all-white setting.
Use Acceptable Colors
Speaking of colors, you do have a small bit of flexibility when it comes to your tablescape.
You are able to use silver or gold flatware. This alone can add some “major slap” to your table.
You’ll notice I used gold flatware, chopsticks and even wine glasses for my table. Not only were these items a bit unique, (IMO) they also added variety to my layout.
Also think outside the box. White wine glasses or glasses with sparkly designs (in taste) can really take your table up a notch. Just remember to keep it classy and avoid being too flashy!
The Darling is in the Details
This is my favorite part of the table. The details!
Now, when I talk details, I am speaking to a few things:
Mise en Place
Mise en place is a French term used in their culinary world. Loosely translated it means “putting in place”. This is what you’ll want to do with your table.
Remember, you’re working with a small bit of real estate here. You’ll want to make the entire area count while at the same time, not cluttering your table with so much stuff that onlookers can’t tell “this from that”.
This is why it’s important that everything has a place (mise en place), and you know exactly where everything goes... down to the butter knife!
This is also why it’s important to practice your set up prior to the day of the event more on that here. Trust me, you’ll LOVE me for it!
Here are few other places where details should be heavily focused:
Layers and Shapes
Layering things on your table does several things. First, it brings dimension to your display which makes it pop more.
Second, it allows you to do more in a smaller space while keeping your table from looking cluttered. This allows people to be able to see everything on your table and keeps their eyes engaged with your creation longer. Trust me when I say, layering is everything!
As for shapes, don’t feel restricted to round plates and bowls. It’s okay to play with squares and triangles as well as Avant Garde dishes to help elevate the look of your tablescape.
Circle vs. square dishes
In the words of the late John Witherspoon “You got to coo-ooorrd-dinate”.
While using color on your table, whether it’s food, flowers or flatware, you will want to ensure that your colors complement each other.
Study which fruits look good next to each other, or how to combine the meat on your charcuterie display along with your fruit to create a beautiful contrast that pairs perfectly.
When adding color to an all-white base, you’ll want to ensure to do it right!
Like I shared before, my inspiration came from a napkin ring, which of course, led me to selecting napkins. Which then led me to think about how to shape my napkins.
But of course, there are other ways to “tie a napkin”. You can use tulle tied in a bow, gold or silver garland (depending on your flatware) or even greenery. It’s okay to get creative with these details, again, as long as you’re coordinating.
Also, you’ll want to do your research all the way down to the details on how to fold your napkins. Remember, the darling is in the details and your napkins will matter.
One last thing about details, balance is key. - Don't rely on a large or gaudy centerpiece to secure your win if you are going to compete. Although they are eye catching at first, they tend to take away from the rest of the details you’ve put all of your effort into. That said, if you’re going to go GRANDIOSE with your centerpiece, make sure everything else on your table is equally ostentatious.
Be Ready to Execute
You have to pull this whole thing together. The best way to do this is to set your table up in your home as soon as you find your first inspo piece.
At least this is what I did.
After which, every time I found something I wanted to add to the table I did just that. I kept building and perfecting my table over time until I had it just right.
Sometimes this meant taking things away from the table to ensure not to overwhelm they onlookers or myself. This may seem a bit “extra” but there is no limit to excellence, now is there?
Last, but definitely not least, as a part of the execution, you'll need to take the best possible picture of your table.
The picture you end up with is important if you’re going for the win!
In fact, this is how your table will be judged along with the help of social media. So, with that being said, you’ll want to take a lot of pictures. And I mean A LOT!
3 of nearly 20 pictures I took of the table
And just like when you're taking a selfie, it's all about angles baby.
Be sure to get pics of your table from both sides, several different angles, and with a variation of lighting, depending on the time of day.
By doing this you’ll have plenty of pictures to choose from to enter the contest or for your very own keepsake, remember, you only get to enter one pic.
Welp, there you have it my friends. My tips on how to decorate a prize-winning table for Diner en Blanc. Best of luck to those hoping to win this year, I hope my tips help you secure the W!
Have you started planning your table yet? If so, what is your inspiration or theme? Leave it in the comments below! I can’t wait to hear about what y’all are creating!