I am very excited to welcome The Jewish Hostess to Kitchen Tested! Marlene from The Jewish Hostess has created an incredible blog for all modern Jewish women to connect through kosher recipes, gorgeous tabletop  decor ideas and chic hostess tips. But you don’t have to be Jewish to learn from Marlene’s brilliant designs or drool over her creative recipes. Everyone can learn to make a stunning table scape using tree trunks, masks and lots of flowers! It’s time I challenged myself to be creative  as a hostess with more than just my recipes…and this guest post from The Jewish Hostess is my starting line.  

Dear Kitchen Tested Hostesses,

If your Shabbat and Holiday table setting decor is starting to look about as old as your wedding photos, then its time to wipe your table setting slate clean and dare to think past your same old table cloth and boring white napkins. Update your holiday table scape and watch your friends and families eyes light up as they enter the room. Sometimes we just never get to uncover the rainbow of creativity hidden under our daily “to do” list. A new table decor is probably the LAST thing on your mind after whipping up some of the fabulous Kitchen Tested recipes here on this blog. Well, The Jewish Hostess has appeared here on your laptop just to give you that extra nudge to spark the FABULOUS inner hostess within!

1- Start with your holiday theme and color scheme. Is it a holiday? A dinner party? Are you in the mood for a hot bright color on your table? OR just a calm romantic feel?

For my modern/rustic Tu bishvat table photo shoot this year, I wanted to inspire my Jewish Hostesses with the fresh feeling of trees, nature,and the beautiful fruits of the Shiv’ah Minim of Israel.

I found a gorgeous hot pink cherry blossom fabric from the Marimekko shop in Crate and Barrel and had it cut to size. I left the edges raw on both ends because:

1- I really don’t sew, and

2- the raw edge fit in perfectly with the rustic look.

I borrowed the tree trunk bases, and the plastic monstera leaves (also pictured below- on the jungle themed Purim table) from my sister in law. For tons more table setting pics , recipes, and details about this Tu Bishvat table setting, please visit me at The Jewish Hostess.com.

Tu Bishvat, The Jewish Hostess

Below, I used ombre blue macarons in plastic canisters to create a modern day sweet menorah centerpiece for my Hanukkah table decor. Silver and blue carried the evening with placemats, silverware, dreidels, and royal blue cake pops as place card holders. The lit candles in the center added a soft ambiance to the room as everyone served themselves at the buffet.


2- Use elements from the holiday theme on your table. This past Rosh Hashanah, I used 2 white curvy horns (you can see one of the horns in the center of the table below) that I found at a gift show in NYC. I also bought miniature honey jars from Amazon. Mini white tasting spoons held pomegranate seeds in front of each place setting. My homemade Rosh Hashanah jelly apples were the hit of the night!


I also bought wooden honey dippers online,and I purchased burgundy velvet to use as napkin rings at 99 cents a yard.You don’t have to spend a fortune on napkin rings, and oh, what a difference a napkin ring does make!

3- Mix the old with the new! The dishes navy and gold dishes above were my mom’s. I still remember them being stacked up in the dining room for my brother’s disco/dinner party in the 70s. Mix your old dishes with modern stemware, flatware and simple dishes like the Annie Glass dinner plates above.

4- Change your table scape STYLE ! Just like we get tired of putting on the same outfit every other day, that’s how you should feel with your table scape. You should see the proud look on my married girls faces every time they bring their families over for shabbat. Once in a while I even get a slight nod of recognition (did I see a smile??) from my teenage son before he rushes out of the house. One time he even helped me fold the napkins for our last year’s Tu Bishvat table !(below).

(p.s.)If you think that I actually potted those beautiful hyacinth plants, well I’ve got a secret to share! I actually picked them up at the flower district on 28 street in NYC. Brought them home, and threw some bright orange kumquats onto the moss. In the center of the crated grass I placed a cake plate and mounded some new fruits atop. Voila!

Tu Bishvat Table Decor, The Jewish Hostess

5- Reinvent your old drinking glasses, bowls, ribbons, table cloths and more:

The table below was one of my first creative holiday tablescapes. Two days before Purim, I ran to the 99 cent fabric shop and found the animal print, used sterling drinking glasses given to me as a wedding gift and transformed them into vases. I Bought some Purim masks online, stuck them into my “NEW” vases with flowers from the corner store. I then bought a silver chain trim and cut and glued the trim into napkin rings. As you can see, I mixed blue black, burgundy and red, (colors that I wouldn’t think of using on my table) and it was even prettier in person.

Think of floating flowers in bowls, using pretty salad plates to pass appetizers, and pretty wood baskets to hold your challah rolls.

Purim tablescape

Purim Table Ideas, The Jewish Hostess

6- Layer! Layer, Layer!

The table below was created by my sister in law and I for a jungle themed Purim. We layered a bridge table cloth (turned it on the diagonal), bought plastic monstera leaves online, layered with wooden disposable plates, cheap jungle themed fabric used as napkins, and tied it all together with wooden napkin rings. Again, we had a ball at the flower market picking out bright tropical leaves and flowers. Remember to pop out your table with COLOR!(#8 below) I rummaged through my closets and found an orange (my favorite color) salad bowl that looked amazing and added another layer of dimension to our table scape. Can you see the hanging jungle themed paper lanterns in the back room? Another layer that added to the ambiance of the evening.


7- BE CREATIVE!!! One of my favorite tables were from a Passover table setting contest that I ran last year. Two teenage girls surprised their mom for the holiday and created their Passover table decor from scratch. Blue fabric was folded into a runner and laid across the center of the table representing the splitting of the sea. Their family name was printed in gold lettering and attached to each hagaddah on top of each place setting. Sequin trim was transformed into napkin rings, and blue vases with simple flowers topped it all off. Imagine how great their mom felt!

Passover Tablescape, The Jewsh Hostess

8- Use COLOR to EXCITE!!! Studies have shown that bright colors add to the hunger factor, and instantaneously put us in a good mood. Below, my neighbor used striped Mexican blankets and pillows that she owned, to dress up her holiday decor. (You can actually find Mexican table decor HERE)

Sukkot Table Ideas, The Jewish Hostess

Always remember to use flowers, bright candles,or an eye popping napkin to shake up a ho hum table.

Well, I hope that I’ve inspired you to dig into your storage closets, run into a fabric shop, borrow table decor from a friend, and browse your local florist for unique vases, containers and gorgeous flowers. I can’t wait to see pictures of the tables that you create! Happy Holidays!


Marlene Mamiye- thejewishhostess.com