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I love rituals for a million reasons but mainly because they keep me sane. No matter what’s going on, rituals ground me amidst the chaos of daily life. These are stressful times — not just because of the relentless demands in our personal and professional lives but also the weight of our shared anxiety. I find that a simple ritual like setting the table helps me locate myself and connect to a steadiness beneath the fluctuations of my mind.
Even as a child, I remember feeling a sense of calm as I folded the napkins and arranged the silverware. Looking back, it was an invitation to return to the present. It taught me the value of giving my full attention to the things that mattered, like sitting down for a meal as a family. Setting the table allowed me to step away from whatever storyline or drama that had consumed all of the oxygen on that particular day and appreciate what was right in front of me.
I’m trying to instill this same appreciation in Chloé who now sets our table with her own creative flair. I sometimes ask her, “What shape are you feeling for the napkins tonight? Square, rectangle, or triangle?” My hope is that she’s able to tap into her mood, energy, or mindset and make a choice that reflects a part of herself she’d like to express. In that way, a table is like a blank canvas — an opportunity to explore how we feel and who we are in that moment.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate. A tablescape can be a humble setting for two on the coffee table for Friday night pizza in front of the tv. In fact, of all the many (too many!) pieces I’ve collected over the years, my favorite by far is my everyday tableware. I almost always use our spatterware plates or my antique ironstone plates. We use cotton napkins and napkin rings, which is another ritual I adopted from my mother. She has a collection of antique sterling silver napkin rings — one for each member of the family with a design that reflects our personality or passions. She had them engraved with our initials. Napkin rings mean less waste and less laundry. I found the most amazing set of numbered antique sterling silver napkin rings in a leather box at the Portobello flea market in London. I love using something so special for our everyday table.
There’s usually a cutting board on the table for bread. I don’t use a tablecloth for everyday meals because it’s just not worth it with a small child — too many spills! That said, I love using one for Sunday dinner or special occasions. There are always flowers on our table because I love flowers so much! They make everything beautiful. I create an arrangement at the beginning of the week and then I try to salvage the blooms as the week goes on by trimming and rearranging them into bud vases which I scatter around the table.
Think of your everyday table like a capsule collection. Invest in quality heirloom pieces you’ll love forever. Choose pieces that reflect your spirit, bring you joy, and transform the daily ritual of setting the table into an opportunity to connect with the moment and express yourself.