Meet me at the end of the rainbow for a St. Patrick’s Day party tablescape filled with whimsical décor ideas. Shamrocks, gold coins, rainbows, and a leprechaun enliven an event fit for fairy Queen Mab herself. So pull up a chair and delight in the sights of a table set for the most fortunate of sorts… lucky you!
“May your pockets be heavy— your heart be light,”
A mischievous leprechaun caught gold-handed must offer 3 wishes in exchange for his freedom… so there he will stand waiting as part of the centerpiece until all has been thought through when the meal has ended.
“And may good luck pursue you each morning and night.”
Light shines through the trees illuminating a diaphanous fabric rainbow and trailing shamrock banner acting as the harbingers of good fortune.
“May you have all the happiness and luck that life can hold—“
Glasses with golden basket weave patterns hold all the liquescent happiness a pixie could delight in. Layers of earthenware plates are providentially heaped upon chargers reminiscent of gleaming gold coins. Napkin rings seemingly made of celestial rainbows fortunately hold useful cloth napkins. Wooden handled golden flatware will soon carry all the delicious colcannon an elf could devour.
“And at the end of all your rainbows may you find a pot of gold.”
Capturing the luck at the end of the vibrant rainbow is an antique wooden farm bucket overflowing with gilt coins and auspiciously sprouting felt shamrocks.
“Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.”
Lush emerald green grass ostensibly growing from rich soil conveys the feeling of Ireland. Dotting the table’s landscape are propitious shamrocks and glistening coins heralding the luck of the Irish.
♣ Now let us raise a glass and toast “Sláinte!” (“slawn-cha”) to our health as they do in ancestral Ireland!
P.S. The leprechaun is actually a vintage Mark Roberts Christmas fairy whose seafaring Neptune features have been temporarily disguised with shamrocks for the occasion.
This Chinese New Year of the monkey dinner party contains many ideas for elegant tablescape décor with which to inspire your own celebration. As this is a time for provoking good fortune, customary New Year colors where replaced with those which are luckiest for the monkey sign. Favorable shades are white, gold, and blue while the traditional red is regarded as inauspicious. The typically shunned white funerary color is actually a propitious one for the primate, so it is utilized in the dishware. There are touches of blue in the ceramic vessels, and many shades of gold are included in the setting. Further yellow toned gold cording was selected for the napkin rings, as yellow is also regarded as a lucky royal color as it was once reserved only for use by the emperor. The handcrafted napkin rings were fashioned with traditional Chinese good luck knots, each with 8 petal-like loops. This is auspicious as the numbers 1, 7, and 8 are also providential for the monkey. There are 8 chairs in room, though some are off camera. 7 brass candle holders elevate candles with 7 lit wicks, and there are actually 7 good luck knots when the 6 rings are added to the one looped onto a ceramic lid. Of course, the table, table runner, tablecloth, and wall vase are each numbered as one. The Asian wall vase contains blossoming branches which are a prosperous theme repeated in the ceramics. Additionally, little lotus bowls bloom with blessings. Only chopsticks and ceramic spoons are included for dining, because knives unfortunately represent the cutting of relationship ties… and this is a holiday for flourishing connections in the burgeoning of a thriving new year! “Gung Hay Fat Choy, Gung Hay Fat Choy. Sing Happy New Year, Gung Hay Fat Choy.”
“The new moon tells us, exactly when to celebrate with family and friends.” Gold leaf chargers shine as the full moon beneath gold edged plates and propitious lotus blossom bowls. Delicate teacups accompany vintage ceramic spoons bordered also with gold. Bamboo chopsticks display adornment with patterned paper washi tape.
“Clean up the house and get out the broom. Sweep out the old year, bring in the new.” A pristine new tablecloth of muted gold matches cloth napkins encircled by plaited rings embellished with opportune good luck knots.
“Bring out the apples, the oranges too. Their colors bring us joy and good luck too.” Auspicious branches bloom from an Asian wall-mounted vase. Trees neighboring the tablescape are echoed by the table-runner embroidered with leaf filled branches.
“The dragon dances, the lanterns light. The firecrackers light up the night.” Illuminating pillar candles stand eminently upon vintage scrolled brass candle holders embossed with tiny lotus blossoms. Traditionally made Chinese ceramic vessels lavishly depict scenes of lush bird filled paradises, which are decorated further by dimensional gold paint.
Gung Hay Fat Choy… Best wishes & congratulations! Have a prosperous and good year!
P.S. The quoted Gung Hay Fat Choy children’s song lyrics are by Nancy Stewart.
P.P.S. Learn how to make the traditional Chinese Good Luck knots seen here and how to turn them into napkin rings as well as decorating chopsticks with washi tape in my crafting article by clicking HERE!
P.P.P.S. Read more about traditional Chinese New Year celebrations in my article from last year by clicking HERE!
Offer Thanksgiving for those loved ones who have remained true blue through the past year with a dinner party featuring a fresh blue color scheme, ubiquitous holiday turkeys, and modern china that complements family heirloom dishes and crystal. This is the perfect way to symbolically honor ancestral tradition while celebrating present day family as well… because family is made from so much more than DNA.
The beautiful 10 inch antique turkey plates are used as salad plates in this modern setting, though they functioned as dinner plates during the era in which they were made. They are placed upon ivory patterned dinner plates, by Mikasa Italian Countryside, which are technically vintage even though the pattern is modern as they remain open-stock.
The wild tom turkey patterned platter and dishes featuring scalloped edges, by Flow Blue by Ridgeways England, are family antiques made in the late 1800s. They were originally purchased by my Great-Great-Grandmother.
The delicate crystal stemware displays a subtle floral motif that echoes the bouquet border of the dishes. They were inherited from another line of the family.
Stretched across a blue patterned tablecloth is a joyfully patterned runner sporting bluebirds of happiness. This was kindly crafted by my mother who hand-stitched the navy trim border just for this occasion.
Guarding the antique crystal salt and pepper shakers, of yet another pattern, are a blue owl and blue bird handcrafted by an artisan in Chile.
“O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” — William Shakespeare
P.S. If you have any trouble identifying your own pattern of crystal or china, there is a reputable company who will identify it by picture for free! Just upload images to http://patternid.replacements.com/ They are researching the stemware seen above for me. I’ll add a comment with the information when I find out!
P.P.S. Also, if any of you out there are interested in purchasing anything you see in my articles, from party supply sets to dishware, just send me a reasonable offer via the contact page!
Celebrate Halloween with a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) themed dinner party filled with decorative sugar skulls (calaveras de azucar in Español) that embrace the lighthearted American holiday while still honoring Mexican traditions. Sugar (azucar) is said to balance the bitterness of death (muerte), and calaveras are traditionally offered on All Saint’s Day (November 1) to departed loved ones as one would leave flowers graveside. As Halloween serves to poke fun at all things scary, Dia de los Muertos is intended as a way to accept death as inevitable… and also to honor dearly departed loved ones. Representational calacas (colloquial term for skeletons) symbolize the idea of life being inextricably linked with death, and have migrated north from Mexico into American Halloween celebrations as themed décor. By using one celebration as a theme for the other, the two concepts combine to poke a little fun at death as not being so scary!
The vivacious tablecloth was made from fabric printed with customary Dia de los Muertos imagery in vibrant illustrations over a black background. (Purchase the cloth, glass candles, & large decorative skulls from Le fidèLe Designs affiliate Joann Fabric & Crafts whose clickable ad appears in the sidebar.)
Exotically painted salad plates sit atop solid purple dishes to evoking the brightly embroidered dresses of Mexico. (Purchase the salad plates from Le fidèLe Designs affiliate Cost Plus World Market whose clickable ad appears in the sidebar.) Lustrously glittered napkin rings of sugar skulls hold death black napkins in their icy grip. (Learn how to craft the napkin rings here: DIY Calaveras de Azucar (Sugar Skulls) Napkin Rings, Wine Glass Charms, & Vase Craft Tutorial.)
A polychromatic Mexican serape (wool shawl) covers lifts which elevate central elements of the centerpiece unseen. Ornamental calavera (skull) novios (brides and grooms) ceremoniously occupy the centerpiece. (Calacas, skeletons, dressed in wedding attire are a common theme describing the circle of life.)
This tutorial will help you to inexpensively craft your own jeweled vase in the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) style to fill with traditional wild marigolds (cempasuchil), and then easily DIY calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) napkin rings and wine glass charms to decorate your Halloween dinner party table with. Sugar (azucar in Español) is said to balance the bitterness of death (muerte), and calaveras (skulls) are traditionally offered on All Saint’s Day (November 1) to departed loved ones as one would leave flowers graveside. As Halloween serves to poke fun at all things scary, Dia de los Muertos is intended as a way to accept death as inevitable… and also to honor dearly departed loved ones. Representational calacas (colloquial term for skeletons) symbolize the idea of life being inextricably linked with death, and have migrated north from Mexico into American Halloween celebrations as themed décor. By using one celebration as a theme for the other, the two concepts combine to poke a little fun at death as not being so scary!
To craft the calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) napkin rings, begin with either a package of glittered skulls or cut your own shapes from glittered paper. Another option is upgrade a readymade skull banner. (All of these items are available at Le fidèLe Designs craft supply affiliates Michaels and/or Joann whose clickable ads may be found in the sidebar.)
To decorate these with the traditional sugar skull designs of flowers, hearts, swirls, and apostrophe type marks, I utilized Tulip brand Crystals (= glittery like sugar) T-shirt paint. It works really well on many materials besides cotton. The small tips allow the paint to come out just like icing does on real sugar skulls. If you prefer the control of a paintbrush, just squeeze some out onto a paper plate to use as a palette. Let these dry overnight to cure, and ensure that no unwanted marks are impressed into the paint.
Cut 6 inch lengths of grosgrain ribbon to serve as the ring. (I found this skull printed roll on clearance, and didn’t find out until much later that it’s a “Monster High” motif. Oh well, it worked!)
Hot glue each end of a ribbon length onto the center underside of a skull.
Ring a ding ding, look who made a napkin ring!
To create wine glass charms, begin with Jolee’s Boutique dimensional scrapbooking stickers. Pull the plastic fronts away from the flat backings.
Use the same T-shirt paint in white to add a layer of sugary glitter to them. These will dry clear. (To make this easier, I made a finger loop of masking tape to hold them while I dotted on the paint, and then just slipped them off onto the table to dry overnight.)
Tie these onto jumbo jump rings with a strand of colorful yarn or ribbon. (I used the same yarn on all my Dia de los Muertos crafts for continuity.)
Since the skulls come in colored sets of 2, why not color-code the drinks by kissing couples!?
Quickly create a calavera vase by upcycling an old vase with crystal stickers or by gluing crystals on. You can use a complete picture, lay on crystals individually, or both. (If you need to use a pattern, just tape a coloring page to the inside of the vase and adhere crystals to the outside of it over the lines.)
Tie on a length of ribbon to coordinate with the other crafts, and fill the vase with black marbles.
Fill it with traditional wild marigolds to use as a centerpiece surrounded by more calaveras.
Making healthy roasted chicken and root vegetables is so easy with a Cocorico Roaster. I love to use mine as an easy “one-pot” wonder that presents beautifully from oven-to table. The night before a long day, I can peel the veggies and add herbs so it only needs to put it in the oven for a hardy home-cooked meal. Larger roasters will also accommodate a small turkey for the holidays.
1 roasting chicken (or turkey, in a size that will fit your Cocorico roaster)
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons rosemary
1 fresh lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
Olive oil (enough to coat chicken & drizzle a little over veggies)
Multicolored root vegetables in season (enough to fill the cocorico base):
~1 pound carrots
~1 bunch radishes
~1 or 2 pounds fingerling (or new) potatoes
(& turnips if you have better luck than I did finding good ones)
Cocorico roasters in glazed terra cotta are available locally and online. I ordered mine from Napa Style because it was the biggest I’ve seen, and also had a larger turkey cone that fit over the chicken cone. Soak the whole thing under water at least 30 minutes before cooking. This prevents any heat damage to the vessel. I saturate mine in a bleached clean sink.
Preheat your oven to 400ᵒ, while you soak the roaster and prep your veggies. There are a beautiful variety of purple, orange, red, and white root vegetables available. Peel and cut them into about 2 inch chunks to ensure even cooking. Some recipes will advise you boil potatoes ahead of roasting, but I’ve found that to be completely unnecessary if you buy small fingerlings. They roast just like baked fries. They’re prettier, easier, and quicker… so save the big ones for baked potatoes. Radishes may seem like an odd choice for roasting, but they completely change character after cooking. They mellow out, losing their sharpness and spicy heat. I really do prefer them this way.
Place these in a bowl with herbs and add just the smallest drizzle of olive oil. (The chicken juices will flow over the veggies while cooking thus providing more flavor.) Squeeze a little of your lemon over the veggies, and save the rest to place inside the chicken cavity before setting over the roasting cone. Add sea salt and toss to coat everything well. This may be done ahead of time, just cover the bowl and refrigerate it until needed.
Many recipes will also instruct you to wash chicken inside and out before cooking, but I read a study that found it only served to spread dangerous bacteria all over your kitchen. Thorough cooking will kill bacteria while rinsing will not. Drain the fluid and remove any extra gifts left in the cavity (neck, gizzard, giblets). Then set the chicken onto the soaked Cocorico. Other recipes will also say to do this with the legs up and trussed, but this is really subjective to the size of your roasting cone versus the size of your bird. I used a smaller chicken in the pictures, which would have been physically impossible to set upside down. It cooked beautifully and tasted great. Just place the chicken whichever way you can get it onto the cone. It’s really hard to mess up dinner with a Cocorico!
Roast in the oven at 400ᵒ for about 15 minutes, and then reduce it to 375ᵒ for an hour longer (for ~4 lb chicken). Because every oven heats differently, the safest way to cook is with a meat thermometer. Place it in the thickest part of the thigh, but not to the bone. www.foodsafety.gov says 165ᵒ is poultry’s magic number! I’ve also read to rotate the Cocorico every 15 minutes. Thinking of how heavy it was, how that would let heat escape, what else I could spend my time accomplishing, and burn potential… I decided to forgo that. Once again, the simplest way proved itself. The chickens turned out exactly the same.
Use a serving spoon to gently toss the roasted veggies, so that the juices are fully distributed. It’s easiest to serve the veggies first and then carve into the meat, using the newly empty well to hold the pieces. Or it can all be transferred to other serving dishes… but I prefer to avoid washing extra tableware, and the filled Cocorico looks so lovely. If trying this, be sure to use adequate hot pads beneath it.
In the past, I’ve saved time by omitting the oil and placing the roots directly into the Cocorico. When it finished cooking, I would sprinkle fresh herbs and orange juice over the top, stirring it right in the roaster. Whichever way you chose to prepare it, with whatever vegetables, with either chicken or turkey, and legs cooked up or down… Cocorico roasters make it all turn out so beautifully! (See this for yourself at the link: Last Minute Cocorico Rooster Theme Dinner Party Décor Ideas.) So think about getting one for yourself, and leave the “beer-can chicken” to the tailgaters! 🙂