How do you set a table and make it different? Add a twist! For this party in my home, it was a twist of lemon. I often start with white flowers, because they go with everything. Then I add something fun and unexpected. This time, it was lemons. I saw them at the market and they were so bright and beautiful, I knew they belonged on the table. Once I had the lemons in mind, the rest of the table fell into place.



I always start the table with flowers. Here, I put the white flowers in vases of varying heights on a runner down the middle of the table, leaving plenty of room for my lemons.



I placed them right on the table but you could also put lemons—real or faux—in compotes or bowls.

For an extra-special touch, I dressed up the lemons for the occasion. I took a little gold highlighter dust, wet it, and used a brush to gilded the leaves of the lemons. (A gold paint pen on the leaves would give a similar effect.) It’s so easy to do but looks so elegant. I’ve added a golden touch to pomegranates, gourds, and nuts in the past—it really makes a tablescape shine. If you add paint to faux fruit, you can re-use the decor again and again.

Then I brought in other lemon-inspired touches, starting with candy.



I love to incorporate little dishes of candy into my tablescapes for guests to snack on and to add to the decor and reinforce the theme. For this party, that meant jelly candy in the shape of both sliced lemons and dishes of other candy that reminded me of lemons because of their shape or colors, like yellow and white non-pareils. I also had bowls of black and white non-pareils, some dark chocolate-covered almonds, and dishes of other nuts for guests who don’t have a sweet tooth.

Candy, cookies, cupcakes—and other treats—are so decorative on their own. Just look at the swirly meringues on this table! But it’s always fun if the candy goes with your theme. If a party is a birthday dinner, for example, you might have the honoree’s favorite candy or brands that was popular the year they were born. (You can find lists of popular candies by decade at Old Time Candy.)

You can also choose candy to match the color scheme. Foil-wrapped chocolates come in wrappings in almost every color of the rainbow. But for this dinner, in addition to the jelly candies and nonpareils, I stuck to lemon shortbread cookies and candy-covered chocolates. (For more fun lemon candy ideas, check out this selection we curated on Amazon.)



The finishing touch to any table is something personal and meaningful—the thing that signifies this is a party only you could have given, to celebrate with the people you invited. For this dinner, my personal touch was a place card with my drawing of a lemon on it. Yours could be a handwritten note or place card, a special treat like a candy bar or lollipop, a memento like a printed menu, or, at a holiday dinner, an ornament. Or, if you’re going with a lemon theme, download my lemon place card template, print, and turn it into place cards of your own by writing names, greetings, or notes on them.

Here, the lemon place cards worked with the flowers, candy, and actual lemons on the table to create a yellow, white, and green vision lit by the glow of candlelight.



Whatever the theme of my table, I always add candles. Candlelight brings ambiance whether your candles are battery-powered—a good idea if kids will be present—or the old-fashioned kind. I like to vary the heights of my candles (and my flowers!) for a little visual variety. On this table, the candlelight added to the glow of the gilded chargers and played up the yellow of the lemons.

I could see this elegant table at a wedding with a Tuscan garden theme (with limoncello in liqueur glasses at each place). Or, you could put your own “lemon twist” on this idea and do a more casual version for an outdoor party once it’s lemonade season. (In fact, we’ve got a garland you can download, print, cut out, and string up right here.) Pick any excuse to celebrate and gather the people you love and a bunch of lemons. As I like to say, when life gives you lemons, celebrate something!