The Art of Dressing A Table For Thanksgiving - with Debbie Allen

Oh do I have a treat for you! This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Debbie Allen from Tablescaping - The Art of Dressing A Table, which is both a blog and a wildly popular group on Facebook. 

She is a full time RN and employed with the local school district. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 40 years and has a son and daughter who are in the medical field, and she is the proud Grandmother of an amazing 5 year old girl.

Q: Debbie, tell us how did your love for setting beautiful tales start?
First, I want to thank Ana for allowing me this fabulous opportunity to talk about tablescape which is my passion!

I was not raised in a family who had elegant sit down dinners, but I do remember how special it was when my Maternal grandmother put the tablecloth on the dining table and got out her nice china and stemware. It was nothing fancy, but I always remembered it fondly.

We did not have much money as young adults, but I still tried my best with my children and sometimes this was just lighting candles at dinner. This embarrassed them to no end because they were afraid their friends would look in the window and see them!

I had been married at least 20 years before I began collecting some nice china for myself, typically at flea markets.

Q: Debbie, you have one of the most successful Tablescaping groups on Facebook. Almost 9K members and counting! When/how/why did you decide to start this community?
Several years ago I found a facebook tablescape group and really got hooked.

There were not many Tablescape groups at that time, so I decided to create my own. I started Tablescaping - The Art of Dressing A Table on December 7, 2019. It started with 20 of my friends.

Then I got the bright idea of a competition to invite the most people with a prize of a set of 8 Chargers. This was a huge success! And the rest is history. I have also been very fortunate to have dedicated Admin assist with the group.

Q: You keep things so interesting within the group by organizing super fun themed competitions, and at the same time,  you do such an amazing job in supporting small shops by letting them sponsor your competitions. (We can’t wait to sponsor another one!). How do you come up with all those themes? Please talk to us about these competitions!
I thought up the competitions as a way for the members to have fun and I enjoyed providing the prize with my own money. Word spread and soon we had a couple thousand members.

After about a year, I was asked by a small business owner in the group if they could host a competition. Then shortly after that, I had another person ask to sponsor. Thats when I realized that the group competitions were a perfect way to keep the members entertained with multiple themes and prizes and help small businesses at the same time. We were beneficial to each other and the members love it!

Typically the theme of the competition is around a month, season, holiday or just something admin or a member suggests. Keeton Lloyd, my sidekick, is always coming up with great ideas. Thanks Tammi, Barbara and Debbie and our wonderful members because their creativity and inspiration is amazing.

Here are some examples of the themed competitions! (all table settings by Debbie Allen).

Q: Do you have a method on how you start one of your gorgeous tables? Do you get inspired by one item and build from there or what is your creative process?
Yes, I do have a method to create my tablescapes. It always starts with one object. It could be a plate, tablecloth, figurine, or centerpiece.

Once I set upon that theme, I “ shop the house”. I always try to use what I have on hand. I take a picture of the inspiration piece and take pictures of what I have. What I don’t have, I will either thrift shop, use eBay or I take pictures of the “ ESSENTIALS”: tablecloth/runner, salad plate, plate, charger and stemware. I place all of these on a “ Board” which is just a collage app on my phone.

Once I get the essentials, the rest is where I get creative with centerpieces, candles, figurines, etc. I then take pictures of the table and look at them for a while. Sometimes I even send pictures to tablescaping friends for suggestions. 4 to 6 eyes are always better than 2!

Q: Your collection of tableware must be so impressive! How do you storage all of it? Any tips on keeping it all organized and safe?
As you can imagine, I accumulated a lot of china, stemware, flatware, etc. I have been slowly organizing these into china and stemware containers which I place in clear plastic labeled bins on shelves in the garage. I am also fortunate to have a HUGE ATTIC, but I still do have dinnerware under beds and in most drawers around the house.

It does take a bit to store properly but this is very important. You want to keep your dinnerware protected and be able to easily find it when you need it.

Q: You did such a fabulous tablescape with our Magnes tablecloth! Please talk to us about it.
For this Thanksgiving Table Setting, I started with the Magnus tablecloth. I chose it for the Autumnal colors and I loved the blue in it.

My next step was the salad plate. I find that it is very important to have several “sets” of neutral dinnerware, but many salad plates so that you can create more tablescapes without spending too much money. I chose Wedgewood Chinese Teal which I had to order. It looks beautiful on my Nikko Blue Willow.

To add depth and texture I used rusty gold round chargers and placed it on Rust colored square rattan Chargers. The rattan gave it a more casual look. Because I chose Chinoiserie, I used Wallace Bamboo gold flatware..

With all of the essentials in place, I decided to use clear Waterford tea goblets as to not detract from the colors. I did try multiple stemware and napkins before being satisfied with the final look.

The Centerpiece, additional blue and orange pumpkins and crystal candlesticks completed the look. If you are afraid of mixing patterns, try my method and you will feel much more comfortable with it.

I am very pleased with the elegance and inviting feel of this tablescape. The best part of it is that I don’t have to threaten everyones’ life if they spill food on the tablecloth!!! Ardea Home has a beautiful selection of eco-friendly wipe clean table linens.

As you can see, these tablecloths can be as casual or as elegant as your imagination can take you.

Thanks Ana, and we look forward to collaborating with you on another competition in the future.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you enjoyed learning about Debbie. You can find her here:
Blog -> Tablescaping - The Art of Dressing A Table
Instagram -> @the_art_of_dressing_a_table

Need some table linens for your next holiday gathering? We've made dining more enjoyable by giving people an easy way to protect their tables from spills and hot dishes without having to worry about toxic chemicals. 

If you want some peace of mind when entertaining guests at your house, get one of our wipe-clean tablecloths. Last year we sold out for the holidays - order now before we sell out again!!!

xoxo, Ana

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