Creative Place Settings for Styling Summer Luncheon Tablescapes

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themed place settings styled by bellenza

Summer luncheons are often outdoor affairs with fun themes. Perfect for enjoying the balmy weather! And key to pulling off those themes in style are your place settings. After all, these are right in front of your guests the entire time. A little piece of the whole lunch theme all to themselves!

As these examples from several of our own sets show, you can assemble and style your settings in minutes with just the basic elements plus one or two well-chosen accents. And yet the finished effect can be so appealing!

Theme: Nautical Place Settings for a Seafood Luncheon

nautical inspired place settings perfect for a fishing cookout, seafood boil, or fish fry

The overall look: For this nautical theme, the trick to the whole table was using colors and patterns to suggest a shipshape look—without going overboard (no pun intended!). So we used a striped red-white-and-blue table cloth, a sailing ship centerpiece, and one large conch shell.

The place settings: Super easy! We used shapely oval plates on wooden chargers—intentionally left unfinished for a rough and rustic look. Then, we picked a neutral color scheme with white, ivory, and sandy hues serving as both decor accents on each plate and shell card holders to take home! For a more whimsical look, use a paper boat hat, clear blue plates, and utensils tied up with strings (see right photo).

Suggestions and substitutes:

  • Don’t want to invest in striped table covers? Mix and match solid blue, red, and white ones as base cloths, overlays, and runners.
  • Or have your napkins in one of these contrasting colors, and tie them with rope “sailor knots” as napkin rings.
  • The favors, too, could be candies in nautical colors, cupcakes with flag toppers, or anchor and starfish-shaped paper weights.

Theme: Carnival Lunch Party Place Setting

carnival themed place settings for a grownups circus theme

The overall look: ‘A grownups’ carnival’ was our peg for this table. So we chose a less-common palette of purple, red, yellow and gold. Then, we assembled a trio of carved wooden circus animals for a whimsical centerpiece.

The place settings: Can you fold a napkin and position a favor? Well, that’s all we did to dress up crisp white plates—folded and tied a fuchsia napkin with a blue fork and ribbon using tickets! The only added touch was a little votive holder by each plate holding purple, pink, and yellow flowers.

Suggestions and substitutes:

  • For no-fuss themed centerpieces, you could have clear cylinder vases holding ribbon wands in colors matching your party’s palette.
  • Your party glasses could sport tiny ringmaster top hats on their rims.
  • As favors, why not fill mini buckets with peanut-shaped cookies or have guests fill them with treats from a circus candy buffet?

Theme: Romantic Vintage-inspired Place Setting

romantic red and black place settings - great for anniversaries and adult bitrhdays

The overall look: Red and black is an unexpected palette for a summer luncheon. But we borrowed it from our Valentine’s Day table setting to show it can work year-round, too! The focal points are a black laser-cut table runner topped with red paper flowers and vases draped with pearls.

The place settings: It’s the drama of red that ups the impact of our super-simple settings. Notice how we just tucked the napkin between plate layers and matched it with a bold red favor bundle. Gold chocolate nuggets add an effortless hint of glitz! Alternatively, if you won’t be giving out favors, then a simple menu can be neatly set atop the plate (see right photo).

Suggestions and substitutes: You can actually create this same striking effect with any bold color. Teal or turquoise, plum, tangerine, metallics like gold or copper, or even emerald. The more stark the choice of elements, the more stunning the final effect!

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