Sunday, January 15, 2017

How to Set a Valentine’s Day Table: Creating a Romantic, but Playful Tablescape

It is that time of year again…love is in the air. What better way to celebrate your cozy, intimate Valentine’s Day than with a delicious homemade dinner at a well-dressed table. So to do exactly that I thought I would share with you my own guidelines as to how to use various elements to achieve the feeling of romance and playfulness in a Valentine’s Day tablescape.

To being with, determine what mood, theme or personality you want your Valentine’s table to have. Feeling a little flirtatious or bashful? Do you want to convey more than one mood, for example, a feeling of restfulness and vitality? Can one mood element be interpreted differently by different people? Whichever you decide, set the mood through your table design.

So lets begin by looking at the various elements that can help you make up the personality of your Valentine’s Day table:


Your table setting does not need to contain just red and pink colors for Valentine’s Day. It can have traces of one or the other color or both or it can include neither of the two colors at all. So you ask…how can it then be a Valentine’s Day table setting? If you are not using the colors of red or pink which are the traditional colors associated with Valentine’s Day, then your table will need to include one or more Valentine symbols. Just to name a few, they could be: hearts, cupids or flowers (see explanation of the element on Symbols below).

These elements will allow those viewing your table to immediately recognize your table setting as a setting for Valentine’s Day, even though it is without the use of the typical colors. With any color that you select, your table color element can be bold and bright or it can be soft and muted depending on the feeling you are going for.

However, there is a limit to the number of colors that can be used in the tablesetting. My own rule of thumb is to limit the use of dominate colors to three. In this year’s table I am using red, black and white as my three dominate colors (see below) because of the whimsical black and white harlequin pattern in the plates and figurines. As you work with adding pieces to your table ask yourself if introducing more colors to the tablescape would work? How does it change the cohesiveness of the table? For example, what would happen if I introduced orange to my harlequin print Valentine’s Day tablescape? Would it work? Would it add to its whimsical mood element or would it be distracting?


Whether you are using the traditional colors of Valentine’s Day or not, it is crucial to add decor items to your Valentine’s Day table which are symbolic with the special day. Again, you don’t have to exclusively use just the common symbols such as hearts and cupids to convey a Valentine’s Day setting. Anything that could remind others of love could be displayed, such as paired items like love birds, rings, butterflies, wine/champagne glasses, lettering which spell out the word, “love” or “xoxo”, personalized picture frames and Valentine’s Day cards or notes.  The red heart-shaped napkin rings and mini heart fillers are the symbolic items I used to convey a Valentine's Day tablescape.


Soft, fluffy, furry, tufted, feathery and fleecy textures are typically used to evoke comfort, coziness or warmth. Lacy, silky or velvety textures have also been commonly used in Valentine’s Day decor. The use of texture can visually enhance your Valentine’s Day table without even having touched the piece.  The use of black and white shredded paper for party bags were added for the needed texture for my tablescape (see picture above).

Pattern and Scale:

Choosing a pattern and its scale for Valentine’s Day can be limitless. In fact, the fun begins when you have more than one pattern at a time. These two elements can determine the feeling you are going for in your tablescape design. For instance, compare my Valentine’s Day tablescape posting from last year in which I decided to incorporate leopard print in comparison to today’s table using a harlequin print. (You can view last year’s posting here: Valentine's Day: So Much More Than Romance).

The addition of the animal print or the harlequin print definitely changed the tone or mood for each table. For some viewers, the leopard print table elicited a feeling of untamed recklessness while the harlequin print tablescape created a bit of playful frolic and mischievous whimsy.  The harlequin pattern is also reflected in the three layers of table linens and in the design of the table topper itself.

So when designing your table, ask yourself what effect would I get if I added, for example, small polka dots to my table? Or stripes? What sort of response would you achieve if you used a paisley print? What happens when there is more than one pattern used? How many can be used? Does it work or not? Do the mixture of patterns still contain two or three dominate colors that are in the tablescape? Experiment and watch your Valentine’s Day table be transformed before your eyes.


Spices, coffee, chocolate, and food of all sorts, incense or scented candles can arouse the senses and add interest and intrigue to your Valentine’s tablescape. Beside food items tasting delicious, the nicely displayed dishes can be a design element to your table as well.  As a special treat, I made some carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for a classic dessert.


Bling or shiny elements are typically used to promote luxury and indulgence which are associated with Valentine’s Day. Darkened rooms and candlelight is often the number one choice for this special day to induce an ambiance of relaxation and awaken one’s sensuality.

Something Unexpected:

A chicken in my Valentine’s Day tablescape? What does a chicken have anything to do with love and Valentine’s Day? Ah…you didn’t expect to see it, right? All the more interesting. The sweet element of surprise. Perfect for getting your loved one’s attention.

One last thing I would like to mention for this special day.   It comes from the movie, The Wizard of Oz, when the wizard presents the long-awaited heart to the tin man and he says, "Remember my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but my how much you are loved by others."

Happy Valentine’s Day!


  1. How sweet Marsha! I love the unexpected touch of the chicken :). You certainly have tons of beautiful and whimsical items to carry out whatever creative vision you think of. You must have lots of storage! I'm jealous :).


    1. Hi Doreen,
      I don't have a lot of storage space, just a lot of some organized storage bins. I hope you are having a wonderful time in Florida.Think of me when you run your toes through the warm sand. (We have freezing ice).

  2. Marsha, what a lovely Valentine's table with the addition of black.. the heart napkins rings are so perfect and I love the surprise of the chicken!

  3. What a pretty Valentine's tablescape. I love the black and red touches. Those heart shaped napkin rings are great. The overall look is wonderful. I'd love to have you share any of your Valentine's posts with us at our Valentine's Link Party and our Snickerdoodle Party.

    1. Thank you Beverly. So excited to join your party. I look forward to meeting new friends.

    2. Thanks so much for joining the parties! Pinning to my Valentine's Boards.

  4. Love the unexpected on your table! Color is also an amazing and necessary thing, and your mixture of colors is fun and festive. :-)

  5. Thanks for showing us how to work a traditional theme with a non traditional color. This is so pretty! Thank you for sharing with us this week at Celebrate Your Story, have a great weekend.

  6. How cute! Love the votives in red. I have them in silver. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!


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