Blog posts dedicated to tabletop and tablescape design, services and products.

Tabletop Tuesday: In the Pink

Tabletop Tuesday is an elegant presentation of a small pink gold-rimmed plate on top of a pink, white and gold Kate Spade polka dot center plate stacked on a large pink plate/charger. The gold star accessory, woven gold place mat and Mikasa abstract gold patterned glassware complete the feminine touches to this setting. Go ahead, eat a three-course salad.

 I love this set so much, I designed two iterations.


Yvette Craddock Designs custom place setting

Yvette Craddock Designs custom place setting

Intersection of Fine Art: From the Wall to the Tabletop

Fearless Art Works founder and CEO, Michelle Micalizzi, extended an invitation to me to create place settings that correlate to her latest exhibition “Quartette in Color” for a private event in conjunction with N2 Publishing. Chef Justin of Cafe Bink provided hearty and delicious bites for over 50 attendees.

This unique exhibition features multi-media art from four women fine artists: Katalin Ehling, Marty Gibson, Margit Kagerer and Ann Otis. Their art comprises paintings, collages, metals and fabric. They create as they see and are inspired and all love color. Visit Fearless Art Works in Carefree, Arizona between now through August 24th. Visit @YvetteCraddockDesigns on Facebook for the live video from August 11, 2017.

Enjoy these images of artwork with place settings that correlate to the colors and composition of the exhibition pieces. The more complex the painting, the more dynamic the place setting is to capture colors, shapes and textures.



Enjoy some of these events highlights:

Tabletop Tuesday: van Gogh’s Garden

Tabletop Tuesday presents the impressionist genius of Vincent van Gogh. The center plate features one of his garden paintings. I’ve paired it with a larger orange plate on the bottom to layered the orange and red colors found in the painting. The runner in this place setting picks up the red and golden hues and organic textures in the plate. The vintage Thai brass and rosewood flatware adds more warmth to this setting. A touch of purple flowers in a brass vessel adds color. The vintage brown glassware grounds the setting.

Vincent van Gogh was born in 1853 and was of Dutch descent. After stints in commerce and religion, he began creating art in 1881. His early paintings feature rather drab still lifes and peasant labourers.  All of that changed when he left his native land. His art expanded in context and color upon his relocation to Paris in 1886 when he met and befriended other great artists namely Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin. They were part of the avant-garde group of artists who were rebelling against the Impressionist flavor of the time. His paintings continued to evolve in style, subject matter and the application of more color when he relocated to the south of France in 1888.

Vincent van Gogh is known for severing his own ear which was a result of a feud with Gaugin. In ended his own life at the age of 37 after years of mental illness and poverty. Today, his paintings garner some of the highest prices in the art world. What a tumultuous life filled with anguish and extraordinary talent.

Learn more about Vincent van Gogh in this trailer.

Tabletop Tuesday: Prancing Pears

Tabletop Tuesday features a wonderful quartet of plates featuring the top plates designed in a repetitive pear pattern in reversed color trios. I placed these salad-sized pear plates on alternating citron and graphic black and white plates with different tablecloths to create a whimsical arrangement of plates full of prancing pears.

When is the last time you had fun with your placesettings? Food is fun. It is said that digestion is better on a happy stomach. Let me know how it works for you.



Tabletop Tuesday: Ocean Breeze

Tabletop Tuesday is a setting that reminds me of a peaceful moment on the beach when the blue waters meet the white layer of sky hovering just above the waves.

It is important to create beauty in front of you, while enjoying and paying tribute to beauty around you. Food, like the ocean, is fuel for your soul.

Tabletop Tuesday: Purple Glaze

Tabletop Tuesday is all about style, shape and color. The bone plates are full of stylized design with elegant geometric details. The design proves that bone does not have to be boring. To take the presentation to another level, I added a vibrant purple bowl which complements the shape, texture and glaze finish of the bone plates.  The beige and muted purple linen adds a contrasting texture and correlates with the beige linen napkin. For fun, I added the multi-colored wood napkin ring and some flowers. Definitely try these simple tips at home.

This is an original Yvette Craddock design.

Tabletop Tuesday: Black + White GeoCosmo

Tabletop Tuesday is all about geo cosmo ~ a cosmopolitan setting stacked on top of modern, geometric plate patterns. This black and white color scheme creates a high-impact visual effect because they are the complete opposite on the greyscale spectrum.

The plates feature a mix of the same shapes repeated in different formations and sizes. I love the cityscape of the top plate. The apple is a metaphor and the black glasses command to be filled with fine liquid libations.

Your tablesettings, along with your food, can transport you to other places, times and sceneries. It’s like a good book; a timeless journey to other dimensions.

A Yvette Craddock Designs original tablesetting.

Tabletop Tuesday: Love Dish

It’s Tabletop Tuesday. Let’s keep renewing the vows of love. Love of self, family, friends, community and the world at large. When we focus our purest intentions with the heartbeat of love at the forefront, the frequencies of that intention will reverberate throughout our lives. It’s like the wind in a storm. The more we power we give love, the stronger its commanding force.

Since this is a tabletop post, of course, the love theme includes food. Food that comforts us, nourishes us, strengthens us and just makes us purely happy regardless of category. It is my belief that food is fuel for our brains, our hearts and soul.

Eat with style. Eat with pleasure. Remember to send love and some food to those who are less fortunate than us. When we give abundantly, it will always show up in every area of our lives. Renew your vows with love today.

Designed by Yvette Craddock

Tabletop Tuesday: Mayan Music

Tuesday Tabletop reminds me of the many vibrant, luscious days on Mexican beaches surrounding by lush palm trees, white sand, turquoise waters, great food and laughter. The colors in the Mexican culture are like rich jewels dancing in the sunlight to a rhythmic beat of life.

It is only natural to smile when you a colorful place setting atop a playful linen is before you. It is the foundation for enjoying all of the rich textures that life, friendship, food and great music bring you.

This is an original Yvette Craddock Designs place setting.

How to be the Host with the Most

We love to entertain. There is something innately gratifying about opening your doors to cherished guests to celebrate a variety of special occasions. The elation of planning an event is most often accompanied with some anxiety. The questions that keep people up at night include: 1) Is the date and time the least conflictive with your guests’ schedules? 2) Will they show up? 3) Will your guests enjoy themselves? 4) What type and quantity of food should be served? 5) Will everything go smoothly?

Hosting an unforgettable event is a rewarding endeavor that requires time and energy. Sometimes focusing on the big things can leave the door open to unintentionally dropping the ball on the little, yet essential items. How can you ensure that your event will be the one that you envision and that your guests will love?

Here is my checklist for striking the right balance of food, beverages, space, activities and the timeline for an optimal experience.


Let’s start with the heart of the stomach. It is advantageous to streamline your menu for preparation efficiency, quality and quantity. Planning a larger quantity of fewer, complementary tasting items is ideal.

Hors d’oeuvres

Cheese platters are the top choice for a spectrum of casual to elegant gatherings. They can be simple or include an abundant display of exotic and unusual selections. An ideal platter combines hard, medium and soft cheeses with an assortment of crackers and bread, meat, fruit and nuts.

Preparation Tip: Arrange cheese platters the day before, cover with saran wrap and store them in the refrigerator. Add meat, fruit and nuts to the tray. In today’s age, I place nuts in a separate bowl to avoid anyone with a nut allergy from having a reaction. Place the crackers and bread in bowls or on a platter prior to the event.

Serving Size: A large cheese tray can typically feed up between 10 – 15 people. If your guests are hearty eaters, then make one extra tray to avoid running out of food, especially if that is important to you. Otherwise it is acceptable for hors d’oeuvres to be prepared and consumed as supplies last since more food will be available.

Supplies: Have a sign introducing each cheese. People love to learn plus some cheeses can be easily confused. Provide one cheese knife per brick/roll and at least one tong each per cracker/bread, fruit and meats. If you place nuts in a separate serving bowl, a teaspoon is acceptable as a serving utensil. My ideal rule-of-thumb is one tong per offering to discourage hands-only selections and provide smaller utensils for forks or spoons to manage inventory. Plates and napkins should be available as well. I place and utensils napkins at the end of a table or buffet for guest ease and to avoid waste from dropped or dirty items while guests are moving through a buffet.

Serving Time: Set up the hors d’oeuvres fifteen to twenty minutes prior to guest arrival. Consider the item you are serving and the temperature in which it will be served. For instance, dairy in the summer is not a good idea in the heat. If you do, place it on ice and keep that ice fresh and freezing at all times.


Meal preparation takes more time and thought in today’s age of nutritional plans, allergies and other consumption considerations. Therefore, clusters of two can keep you covered to accommodate a range of guest dietary needs. Here is a sampling of offerings for buffet-style service:

  • 2 salads with complementary dressings (dairy and non-dairy options)
  • 2 veggies
  • 2 meats (such as chicken and salmon or steak and chicken)
  • 2 breads or rolls
  • Butter and/or spreads (stick for small groups, packets for large groups)

Preparations: If you are cooking the food, especially meat, prepare and serve it in deep enough pans if sauce and vegetables are included. If you are transferring your items to a chafer, fancy or wire frame styles, be sure to have a bottom pan. This pan is filed (about pinkie fingertip deep) to heat up water to maintain heat. Select sternos that last for four hours and light those thirty minutes prior to service time. Pre-cut your meat for guest ease and to keep the buffet line flowing. Always start your meat cooking process at least 15 to 30 minutes prior to the end time it needs to be done in order to maintain your event timeline. Usually Murphy’s Law kicks in with an oven, stove or other type of delay when preparing meat for service. Just have a plan so that you or your staff can keep everything on track, stress-free.

Set up Tips: You can have a menu sign with plates at the beginning of a buffet. Set out all items at once, with salad and bread at the beginning and make sure you announce to all guests that the meal is ready to be served. I have seen guests start serving themselves before all of the food was ready and set out. Have a server in the area to courteously inform guests of the progress and plan. If you have between 50 to 100 guests, make your buffet line double-sided to allow for faster service.

Serving Size: Anticipate that each guest has a second helping and plan accordingly. If you are providing lots of alcohol or have a long event, plan about 20% more food on top of the two helpings per person guideline.

Supplies: Have a sign with the menu at the front of the line or signs for each dish. If you have guests with nutritional stipulations, it is courtesy to add a few ingredient details on the sign or have a side conversation with that guest. Tongs for salads and bread, spoons for veggies, ladles for dressings and sauces and a knife and fork for meat, butter knife for butter. I usually place a small plate in front of bowls and platters to rest utensils. This avoids people putting utensils on the table and hopefully using the same utensil for multiple dishes.

My ideal rule-of-thumb is one tong per offering to discourage hands-only selections and provide smaller utensils for forks or spoons to manage inventory. I place the napkins and condiments at the end of a buffet line to avoid waste and line flow delays.

Serving Time: Offer dinner within 60 minutes of guests arriving and consuming hors d’oeuvres.

NOTE: If you are having your event catered, a truly professional caterer will provide all of these items. Be sure to have them outline what they are bringing and the quantities. However, I have seen many caterers that provide drop-off service not provide the above items. Have a back-up plan.

If you are preparing all of the food yourself and are hiring staff to help you, please provide them with an outline of the night’s activities which includes a food menu, instructions and timelines.


Three selections hit the spot. These days it makes sense to have a full fat/sugar option (let’s refer to it as a traditional offering), one gluten-free and one decadent taste in small bites.

Preparation: Refrigerate respective desserts until 10 minutes prior to serving. Have tiered platters or stands to make the desserts accessible and presentation beautiful. Plates, napkins and utensils should be available. If you are serving ice cream, have some way to keep it as cold and firm as possible.

Serving Size: Anticipate that each guest has seconds and plan accordingly. If you are providing lots of alcohol or have a long event, plan about 20% more food on top of the two helpings per person guideline.

Supplies: Have a sign with the menu at the front of the line or signs for each dish. As a guest courtesy, include signs with a few key ingredient details (namely dairy, wheat and nuts). Tongs, spatulas, knifes and a scooper usually cover the spectrum of desserts available.

Serving Time: Offer desserts within 20 to 30 minutes after 75% of guests have finished their meal.


If you plan to have guests greeted with a beverage, set up a beverage area in your welcome area. A chilling bucket for champagne or wines along with glasses and cocktail napkins. If you are displaying a build-your-own Bloody Mary, coffee or chocolate bar, make sure the glasses or cupware are first in line with everything else accessible through layers of height accompanied by serving utensils. Have different types of condiments available. Think of your guests. You might not take sugar in your coffee but someone will want regular, raw or a sweetener. Place napkins at the end of the bar.

Preparation: Remember to polish glassware prior to set up, have a towel and wine/bottle opener on hand with cocktail napkins available.

Supplies: A small receptacle for trash and an area for dirty glassware is appropriate. You can rent oval trays for dirty glasses. A nice touch is to add a clean, decorative napkin across the top. It is customary to not mix clean and dirty in the same area or on the same tray.

A few other tips:

  • Double check that all dishware and flatware are clean and polished prior to setting out.
  • Serving bowls and platters need to accommodate the food.
  • Risers for serving dishware make the food more easily accessible to guests and allow you to maximize table space. See my original designs here.
  • Keep food service in two areas and keep platters full. The more you spread out, the less it looks like you have. These tips do not apply to progressive dinners.
  • Have plenty of ice on hand.
  • If you serve mixed drinks, remember the lemons and limes.

You can confidently follow-up tips proudly wear your host/hostess crown! That or just call me.

Photo credit: Rhianon Lassila