Five Special Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Home

Five Special Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Home

A romantic Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to mean a big night out. Here’s how to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home.

After the excitement of winter holidays and the celebration of the New Year, there’s another holiday on the horizon: Valentine’s Day. Whether you’ve got a significant other to celebrate with or just want an occasion to fête with family, roommates, or even solo, we’re always in favor of making an occasion whenever possible. And, while continued COVID lockdowns may mean romantic dinners on the town are out of the question, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate love with Valentine’s Day at home. Here, five festive ways to celebrate the holiday from the comfort of your table (or bed!). To love!

Oval Ombre Placemat
Patent Reversible Placemat

Virtual Valentine’s Potluck

Looking to celebrate the holiday with friends not in your household? Throw together a virtual potluck: Have each friend suggest a recipe for a different part of the meal (appetizer, side dish, main, salad, dessert—and even cocktail). Then, set a decadent table, no matter if it’s for one, two, or many. We’d recommend these festive red and burgundy reversible placemats and leather napkin rings to match—plus a lush centerpiece with whatever red flora or accessories you have on hand. Next, whip up the assorted dishes, coordinating with friends by phone, text, or Zoom while you do. When you’re all ready to eat, start with a video chat toast and enjoy your “shared” meal.

Red and Burgundy Reversible Placemats
Red Zinc and Leather Napkin Rings

Surprise Date Night

Couples stuck at home don’t have to forego the holiday either. Break up the monotony of the everyday with a surprise meal for your significant other. While your significant other is showering/finishing up work/putting kids to sleep, set a striking table to channel a Michelin-starred restaurant. Might we suggest a graphic, deco-inspired look with a striped tablecloth, lacquer placemats, and coordinating lacquer coasters and napkin rings in cherry red? Order delivery from your SO’s favorite restaurant on the sly, then set it on the plates for a delicious dinner at home.

Stripes and Solids Lacquer Placemats
Lacquer Stripe Placemats

Themed Dinner

So maybe you and your SO couldn’t take a trip to your favorite romantic getaway this year—or maybe you’re missing another special activity (trips to the movies, museum tours, garden strolls). Use that to inspire a tabletop, bringing your favorite things to the home. If it’s gardens you miss, set a floral tablecloth and matching plates and placemats with an exuberant flower arrangement for a centerpiece (or, if you can’t find fresh flowers, try beaded floral napkin rings). Long for the beach? Toss some decorative starfish on the table and cook up a fresh fish feast. Itching for travel? We have some suggestions here…

Reversible Metallic Placemats
Patent Reversible Placemats

Breakfast in Bed

What’s better than being served breakfast in bed? It’s the original strategy for making dining-at-home special. Select a pretty tray, then use a cheerful setting (like these beaded splatter placemats). Add a simple bud vase and fill with whatever red flowers are available at the supermarket or bodega. Whip up your SO’s favorite breakfast and voilà!

Splatter Placemats
Lacquer Tray Red

At-Home Wine Tasting

Napa Valley may be a no-go, but that doesn’t mean aspiring oenophiles have to miss out. Plan a DIY wine tasting by ordering a variety of wines from your local supplier, then collecting tasting notes (either ask your wine seller or use an app like Vivino). Arrange a line of glasses on oblong, easy-to-clean lacquer placemats (in case of any spills!)—you can use the ombré design to determine the order of darker to lighter wine! 

Ombre Oval Placemat
Ombre Round Placemats

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How to Satiate Your Travel Itch While Stuck at Home

How to Satiate Your Travel Itch While Stuck at Home

Channel wanderlust on your table with these creative settings.

Jet-setting might be out of the question right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your travel fix from the comfort of home—specifically the comfort of your dining table. We’re big advocates for thinking outside the proper place setting when laying out the backdrop for any meal. And what better way to be creative than by channeling destinations around the world?

These five table settings draw inspiration from destinations around the globe. Next time you’re setting the table, whether for a formal dinner or quick brunch, look to these suggestions to satiate your wanderlust. No passport required.

 

Stripes and solids lacquer placemat white turquoise
Navy and white lacquer stripe placemat

The Mediterranean Coast

If it’s white sand beaches you miss, channel their color palette with pearly white placemats whose fan shape recalls dappled sand. Keep up a nautical theme with navy rope napkin rings—or infuse a pop of color with a beaded variety the color of bright coral.

Scatter seashells (or even sand, if you’re not too much of a neat freak!) to complete the look. Then, serve up a fresh, grilled fish, light some candles, and you’ll be transported seaside in no time.

Navy rope napkin ring

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

Yearning for a day spent wandering stalls of fabrics, ceramics, and more colorful treasures? Invoke the rich colors of the grand bazaar with these ombre placemats. Try a mix of red and blue colorways set over a tablecloth in ikat, or offset placemats in one color with coasters in another (perhaps a deep black with a touch of pearl?). For a lighter take, look to the mosaic tilework of Byzantine architecture with this geometric placemat. Start your meal with a cup of Turkish tea to set the tone.

Red ombre round placemat

Nairobi

In modern-day Kenya, the Maasai people have been crafting intricate beadwork for generations. These colorful placemats, napkin rings, and coordinating coasters channel the detailed artwork and create a dazzling tablescape. Layer them over a simple base of brown paper and your table is picture perfect. They’re so colorful you don’t even need a centerpiece (though we’ll never say no to flowers).

Maasai multi beaded placemat

Mexico City

The bright, saturated hues of Mexico City make it an aesthete’s dream. Echo this sensibility on your tabletop with fringed placemats in a bold, striped pattern, then accent with rattan coasters in a different hue. A centerpiece of oversized, colorful flowers will set a festive scene. Use an assortment of colorful plates to lay out makings for tacos al pastor. Don’t forget to serve up some fresh-made guacamole. Margaritas optional, but with this festive setup you might have trouble saying no.

Orange and white fringe placemat
Green and white fringe placemat

Holland’s Tulip Fields

If your kitchen herb garden isn’t quite cutting it, channel the world’s most famous flower fields, beloved for their stripes of rich color. Try floral napkin rings in a sunny shade or set a vase with a tulip or two (whatever the grocery store has!) on a tray in appropriate Dutch blue. Maybe next year you’ll get to see them in person; for now, study up on your Tulip varietals—there are over 3,000 species.

Floral napkin ring
Navy and white lacquer tray

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Christmas Table Setting Three Ways

Christmas Table Setting Three Ways

There’s a Christmas table setting style for everyone—no matter the size of your gathering. Here’s how to get three looks.

With Thanksgiving behind us, there’s less than a month until Christmas. That means we’re approaching our favorite part of the holiday season: Setting the table. Although this Christmas might be different than in seasons past (we’re all for virtual celebrations and intimate gatherings), there’s no reason to overlook your Christmas table setting. In fact, we’d argue now is a better time than ever to celebrate the simple things. Your Christmas table setting is a great place to start. While thoughts of Christmas decor might conjure images of red and green tartan or candy cane stripes, the truth is there’s no one way to decorate for the season. Like all decor, it’s all about what you like—meaning the best table settings are the most personal. Looking for some inspiration to get you started? We’ve laid out three different styles, and outlined the items you’ll need to get each look. Consider these your jumping-off points, whether you want to completely recreate the look, or combine elements from one (or all three!) with your own style. Remember, at Von Gern Home we believe there’s no wrong way to set the table. Happy holidays! Cancelled festivities and virtual holiday meals may be putting a damper on your creative table setting efforts. But we’d encourage you to reconsider. In fact, there may be no better time to indulge in a thoughtfully-laid table. Here’s why … 

Modern Metallic

Red and green who? There’s no kitschy decor in sight on this sophisticated table. This Christmas table setting is perfect for the elegant host who appreciates modern style with a touch of celebratory glam (tastefully done, of course). Start by setting your base with a subtly textural backdrop—either in the form of a metallic tablecloth like this or even a natural wood table. Then, set a row of pine down the middle of the table. Next step? Layer in lightness. Here, that comes in the form of metallic touches on the brass ornaments nestled in the pine and VGH shimmer placemats (Bonus: They’re reversible, so you get two tablescapes for the price of one!). For the dinnerware, keep it clean with simple whites and clear glassware. Then, add softness with a few flowers in muted tones. Don’t have time to hit the florist? Grocery store blooms work just fine. Dinner—and elegance–is served.

Natural Layers

Looking to get back to nature this Christmas? This Christmas table setting is for all those who’ve taken refuge in a house in the country this year—or are stuck home pining for one.

First, set your base with a natural motif. This can be a floral tablecloth, fabric with a leaf or flower pattern, or even wrapping paper printed with branches or flowers! Then, set the table with colorful place settings that pull out the colors in the backdrop.

We love these beaded sparkle placematswhich have just the right amount of shimmer, and coordinating napkin ringswhich dress up even the simplest linen napkin.

The final touch? The centerpiece, where the more the merrier. Set a base with pine branches (from your Christmas tree shop or foraged if you can!). Then, add in any and all colorful accents: berries (real or faux), ornaments, colorful leaves, flowers, or decorative birds.

Let the festivities begin.

Winter White

Because we know bold color isn’t for everyone, here’s our take on merry minimalism. For your base, find something textural, to add a bit of interest to the monochromatic look. A linen or woven tablecloth works, but kraft paper is another easy and budget-friendly option.

To up the elegance we love the Lacquer Shell Placemat, with Pearl Napkin Rings for additional texture. (Looking for a warmer palette? Try the Splatter Placemat in bronze, as seen here).

If you’ve got fine china, go for it, but with these glam accents, even the most basic white plates will look celebration ready. For your centerpiece, lay a base of winter branches (foraged or bought, fake or real—no judgment here!). Then, add in a handful of white flowers (remember, you can always buy an inexpensive bouquet at your grocery store!) and accent with clear glass ornaments.

Who said white was boring?

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Virtual Thanksgiving: How to Make It Special This Year

Virtual Thanksgiving: How to Make It Special This Year

Like the rest of 2020, Thanksgiving might look a little different this year.

 
Many of us may choose to forego cross-country travel and large family gatherings in favor of pod celebrations or virtual Thanksgiving get-togethers. But there’s never been a more appropriate time to reflect on gratitude and thankfulness.

And just because you’re swapping family gatherings for Zoom screens doesn’t mean the holiday has to be any less special—in fact, just the opposite. Here’s how to make your virtual Thanksgiving the best one yet. Who knows, you just might find yourself continuing these new traditions year after year.

Set the Table Together

We believe that every good party starts with a thoughtfully-set table. So why not make that a (virtual) activity on its own? Share ideas with loved ones on Pinterest, then Zoom or FaceTime while laying out table settings—whether it’s one or ten. There’s never been a better occasion to go all out.

Start with the linens, then layer in statement placemats and add extra pops with napkin rings, coasters, or colorful glassware before getting creative with a centerpiece (some ideas on that next…).

Make It Personal

If your loved ones can’t be sitting at your table during virtual Thanksgiving, try topping it with things that remind you of them. It doesn’t just have to be family china, either. Set an aunt’s favorite flower as your centerpiece; incorporate mementos like small framed photos or heirlooms across the table to bring thoughts of family and friends to dinner.

Think outside the box: seashells, jewelry boxes, or decorative objects can all become table decor when paired with chic tabletop accessories. Try sterling silver framed photos beside these moonlight placemats and sparkle napkin rings for an elegant winter white look, or go colorful alongside eclectic accessories.

Give New Meaning to “Shared Plates”

While physically sharing might be a no-no right now, social media sharing certainly isn’t. There’s no better time than virtual Thanksgiving to show off your tablescape to the world beyond your dining room. And while we’d always argue that a solo meal is still worthy of a well-set table, if you’re dining alone, let this be another reason to get your table picture perfect

Swap Recipes

While cooking together is on hold, collaborate on dinner with a recipe swap before the holiday. Share your favorite with family and friends, and then incorporate theirs into your own spread—think of it as a new take on potluck style.

Find Gratitude

Finally, with a world in the midst of turbulent change, it’s never been a better time to stop and reflect on what’s good. If you’re with a group (physically or virtually!) have everyone share what they’re grateful for, and turn it into a list you can reflect on all year round.

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Celebrating Everyday Moments with a Creative Tablescape

Celebrating Everyday Moments with a Creative Tablescape

We should be celebrating everyday moments now more than ever. A creative tablescape helps do just that. 

 
2020 has been many things, but there’s never been a stronger contender for the Year of Staying In. Confined to our homes by something largely out of our control, we’ve spent more time than ever at our own dinner table (or kitchen island, or breakfast nook). We’ve turned to Seamless or easy weekend recipes when restaurant meals became distant memories. 

Cancelled festivities and virtual holiday meals may be putting a damper on your creative table setting efforts. But we’d encourage you to reconsider. In fact, there may be no better time to indulge in a thoughtfully-laid table. Here’s why …

Turning Home Into a Destination 

Like all the best creative pursuits, laying a special tablescape involves a certain amount of dreaming, pulling disparate sources of creative inspiration into one new story. In turn, a table laid with a deliberate array of linens, plates, glasses, and accessories invites its guests to dream. It transports them from the dining room, if only for a moment. 

So, at a time when leaving the home may be a luxury, why not turn the table into a destination within its walls? 

This doesn’t have to mean splurging on matching sets or dusting off your grandmother’s fine china. At Von Gern Home, we believe in mixing the tablescape with elements of fun. Scatter hints of seashells among blue-and-white plates for a visual trip to the beach. Conjure the deco era with graphic patterns. Brighten up the haze of a rainy day with kicky-colored placemats and floral accents (that won’t wilt!). 

Make your table pretty enough that even the most banal takeout becomes an experience. Who needs Michelin stars anyway?

Establishing Routine 

As anyone who entered a new state of working-from-home this year can attest, it’s easy for the lines between work and life (and school, and socializing, and so on and so on) to blur. Without the delineation of designated spaces, it all becomes tedious and dull. 

Instead of pushing your laptop to one side of the dining table to make room for a paper plate of dinner atop a pile of papers, create an intentional experience out of your meals. You have to eat, after all—why not enjoy it? Pausing to set the table and purposefully engaging in a meal on its own (not while typing, skyping, or studying) creates a sense of routine in the day. It will also give you renewed energy for the work that remains afterwards.

Plus, if you opt for tabletop accessories you love, you don’t necessarily have to undertake the additional chore of stowing them away when mealtime is over. Stored in a bowl on the table, beaded napkin rings can make a permanent centerpiece. A stack of fringed coasters add a colorful accent to a coffee table while staying in easy reach for meals or cocktail hour. 

Finding Gratefulness  

When the world feels turned upside down, pausing for a meal might be the best way to remind ourselves of what we do have. If you’ve got a table—no matter the size or location—and food to eat on it, there’s certainly no better time to feel thankful for those simplicities.

Some may call the kitchen the heart of the home, but we say it’s the table. Ultimately, setting creative tablescapes for the ones you care about—whether it’s a family of eight or just yourself—might be the best way to show that gratitude. 

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