Though florals are not a tabletop “essential”, per say, they can be the difference between a good table and a great table. In The Art of Setting The Table, we discussed ways to maximize your table’s aesthetic appeal. Of course, flowers were on the list.
At The Table, the rule of thumb is to purchase flowers on the day of your dinner or event. While many elements of table setting can be prepped in advance, florals are best left untouched until shortly before your guests arrive. This guarantees that flowers are fresh – and at their peak liveliness while on the table. Of course the quality of your blooms will depend on where you purchase them. When it comes to sourcing florals, there are several options. Factors that will play into your selection will include location (if we lived near the Chelsea Flower District we wouldn’t shop anywhere else), budget, and willingness to DIY.
As Brooklyn residents, we at The Table usually source flowers from one of the following: Whole Foods (who always has a rather large and fresh assortment – especially good for the likes of wild flowers and vibrant greens), a non-specialty local supermarket (which usually offers an array of basic flowers, plus some decent fillers), the corner deli (you can usually expect a small, but doable selection – you will need to get creative), a florist (there are great options a click or phone call away – but this non-DIY solution is often the most expensive), or Home Depot (they don’t offer fresh-cut flowers – but don’t rule out succulents and small potted plants for another option to bring nature to your table). Since we usually hope to keep spending to a minimum and are simultaneously strapped for time, the corner deli is the pick more often than not. But hey – we promise the results are not half bad. Read on to see what you can do with just 10 minutes of prep (cleaning, trimming) and $22 at the corner deli.
Your flower selection is of the utmost importance; some varietals of flowers scream “Bodega!” – be sure to stay away from those. Just because your doing a deli hack on florals, doesn’t mean your guests have to know it! Blooms to avoid include, but are not limited to: pre-mixed arrangements, carnations, anything synthetically dyed, and baby’s breath. Instead stick to roses, hydrangeas, daisy spray, sunflowers, tulips, thistle, and rice flower. And you if you are lucky enough to stumble upon peonies or ranunculus while they are in season – snatch them up! Use fillers such as wax flowers, eucalyptus, and leafy greenery. The ultimate goal – for your arrangement(s) to look as though they were just freshly picked from your garden.
Once you get your beautiful blooms home – you will want to choose vessels. These can be matching or mis-matched, depending on what look you are going for. We recommend smaller, shorter arrangements for a dinner party – so that guests are not distracted or hidden during group conversation. A basic standard to follow is: one arrangements per two settings – spaced evenly.
Once vessels are selected, trim stems to fit. You will want to cut both flowers and fillers, at a few different heights. This will allow you to create dimension in your arrangement and keep them looking appropriately whimsical. We recommend really trimming – remove every leaf, thorn, and sepal (pointy leaves surrounding the bases of the flower).
Some flowers, such as roses, tend to look more sophisticated and clean with a little extra TLC. To avoid roses looking a little too teen Valentine’s Day bouquet, you will want to manipulate the petals – very gently opening up each rose to emphasize the size and depth of each flower.
Continue by trimming and adding your fillers – keeping in mind the height and placement should be varied. When purchasing flowers, its helpful to have a variety of bloom sizes. This will make your arrangement(s) look a bit more polished and complete.
If you are working with neutrals, a pop of color – like yellow – adds a bit of needed brightness.
And just like that – flowers are ready to be added to your tablescape. Making your table just a little bit more lively and special.
Be sure to share your florals with us by tagging @thetable_nyc and using the hashtag #thetablenycblooms !