Seasonal Settings on a Dime (Festive Green Salad)

Before our progressive dinner last week, I didn’t know what my table would look like until the day of our party. I knew I had purchased 8 snowflake napkin holders at a yard sale this summer, (brand new with Pier 1 price tags on – all for $2) that I wanted to use as a possible theme. I knew I could use my standard white tablecloth, or my brown one, and build my table with a snowflake theme. I chose brown because I liked the contrasting color, and it also looked great with snowflake blue!

To the Dollar Store I went to purchase bulbs and pinecones for my centerpiece. I pulled out my standard white dishes, beautiful water goblets (also a garage sale find this summer), and I bought a $1 spool of snowflake ribbon. Wah Lah! It all came together, simply but beautifully.

Reading through holiday magazines, I came up with 3 myths that I want to address when creating a beautiful table. (Yes, these are silly, but I actually recently read them!)

– Crowd the table with as many pretty things that will fit.
– If you use every piece of silverware that you have, people will think that your food is fabulous.
– Send guests home with a gift!

Why waste your time? People don’t want clutter, or stuff to take home, and certainly aren’t looking for you to make a statement! I still hold true to what I wrote a year ago. People will not remember the place settings, or even what recipes you served. They won’t even remember if your house was clean!

What they will remember is the conversation, ambience, and feel of the evening. The stories and the laughter. How the kids were involved in the evening and how it all came down.

For me, a beautiful table is important, but it is not essential. I don’t want to forget my goal: bringing people together for connection. Helping them feel the spirit and leave refreshed. (For another encouraging story on this subject, read here.)

This year I served the salad course at our progressive dinner. Here is a wonderful salad, festive and colorful, and delicious for the Christmas season!

Blue cheese (I use Gorgonzola)
Toasted pecans (any kind of nuts work)
Large grapes cut in ½ lengthwise
1-2 pears, cup into pieces (Bartlett)
Sprinkle the salad with pomegranate seeds*
Toss with your favorite salad dressing (I use Riverhouse** blue cheese)

*Did you know you can freeze pomegranate seeds?
** Riverhouse dressing – made right here on the Oregon Coast – in Pacific City!

(ALL PHOTOS taken from our progressive dinner last Sat. night)

11 comments on “Seasonal Settings on a Dime (Festive Green Salad)”

  1. Dear Sandy,
    I will be hosting the sald portion of a progressive dinner this December …
    '09! Thanks so much for posting about your dinner in '07- it gives me hope and courage ;oD

  2. Sounds like a wonderful salad. I have wondered if you could freeze pomegrante seeds so thanks for the tip!

  3. I made a salad almost exactly like this at Thanksgiving, but I used a poppy seed dressing I made — so elegant, yet so simple and delicious!

    I am with you — I HATE an overcrowded table, yet I love using pretty things. I have a vast collection of serving dishes, various china and goblets, but when it comes to decorating the table, I prefer simple, and color-themed. I think it makes much more of an impact, and doesn’t overwhelm your guests.

  4. I recently read some books by Marlena de Blasi, she’s a food writer and chef among other things. She says over and over “its not whats on the table who who’s sitting at the table that counts”. I love the quote.


  5. Beautiful!!! The salad sounds wonderful, too! :) Thanks, Sandy-


  6. inexpensive can be beautiful. i bought a 15# bag of apple at a fruit stand in november for 5 bucks and had them sitting on the tables in large wooden bowls with pine cones tossed in. it looked organic and cozy. when the apples started going bad i made a huge pot of applesauce- my toddlers loved it- and much cheaper then flowers!

  7. Beautiful table, Sandy. It almost convinced me to shop some garage sales next year. But I think I’ll be able to shake the urge by summer. (I just can’t get up that early, and I’m not a good shopper anyway.)

    Love the salad, too. Anything with pomegranate seeds is divine. I have a “Fruits of Israel” salad that is topped with them. I love it immensely.

  8. Those are strange myths. Who even cares? I love the idea of a progressive dinner. But how does it work? I mean the person hosting the main course, doesn’t she have things to do which would prohibit her from going to the other courses? A salad can be prepared ahead of time. The dessert too. But the dinner, that involves planning and timing.


  9. Your pictures are just stunning, Sandy! And your table settings were a beautiful subject, once again!

    I’m glad you’re into debunking popular magazine entertaining tips/myths!! I can’t believe there are actually people who believe a cluttered table is going to make people love my meal. That’s actually quite ridiculous.

  10. NOW you’re talking my kind of langauge, Sandy. Inexpensive can still be beautiful. I found beautiful water goblets 2 years ago at the dollar store, so I bought 12 of them. I’ve used them nearly every time we have guests.

    Last year, my Christmas centerpiece consisted of a bowl filled with bright green apples, surrounded by pine boughs, and dotted with fresh cranberries. It was fragrant and beautiful.

    You’re so right – what matters most of all is relationship. But oh, decorating is fun, too! :)

  11. Thinking as a guest and not the hostess, those myths are plain silly! The best thing about dinner with friends is, well, dinner with friends.


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