Tablescape: Nautical Theme Buffet Table

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I am so predictable–I love all things red, white and blue and stars. So it is not at all surprising that I also love all things nautical since those three colors and stars tend to feature prominently in nautical décor. I have been wanting to create a nautical theme buffet table that would allow me to use these nautical signal flags for many years, so I finally got my chance and wanted to share it.

Maybe I watched too many Love Boat reruns growing up, but I love that cruise boat look. So when my father decided to put up wooden bars across the front of the river house (to prevent many grandsons from pushing through the screen doors when the glass doors were open), I decided that the front end of the great room looked like a cruise ship. So what could be a more perfect place to set up my buffet for the food–a nautical table overlooking the water?

I set up my banquet table in the middle of the glass doors and covered it with an attractive, but inexpensive, blue vinyl tablecloth with a white nautical roping and knots design. Then I added two large white acrylic star platters I usually use for patriotic events. They are great for creamy or seafood dips and chips, crackers or raw vegetables. They also work for sweet yogurt dips and pieces of cut-up fruit like strawberries, catalope, honeydew, watermelon and pineapple.

Then you will see several bowls and plates in a nautical design–these are metal dishes I got at Target several years ago. They are awaiting other buffet items like broiled shrimp, mini crab-cakes, crab sliders and the accompanying melted butter, tartar and cocktail sauces.

As a centerpiece for the buffet table I wanted to use a white nautical lantern I have with a decorative life ring I made. My tutorial instructions will be given in Friday’s post–don’t miss it! It’s a simple craft and the life ring is useful in many coastal decorating vignettes as are the other two smaller rings which I found at a dollar store several years ago.

The Styrofoam ring covered with grosgrain ribbon looks good and would also look right with some shells about it or  netting. I like the way this looks, but I do think that a larger ring would have looked better–the lantern could also be larger. But, since these were the size they were, another alternative would be to have raised them both on a wooden crate or books. If they sat up a bit higher off the table, they would be “just right.”

You can see the battery-operated tea-light inside the lantern. With a battery-operated candle, you don’t have to be concerned about forgetting it or about it getting too hot.

I have been saving these nautical print paper plates and napkins for years–waiting for just the perfect occasion to use them. The gold roping on both the plates and napkins echoes the roping on the tablecloth as do the stripes.I knew one day that these nautical flag napkins were going to be, as Goldilocks said, “just right”

These nautical flags were made many years ago for a Vacation Bible School with a coastal theme. They were cut out of colored posterboard and then laminated before being strung with white lightweight rope. They have been used many times since their original creation as I lent them out to others. The lamination makes the flags heavier, but that is probably why their colors have stayed strong and why they remain unbent and frayed.

If you wondered where the rest of the party refreshments are, never fear–they are across the room on the kitchen counter. It’s always nice to have your drinks and food stations separated in your party space, so that your guests will not bottleneck in one area. Having your food and drinks in different parts of your space encourages your guests to move around and mingle as they go.

My guests enjoyed learning more about nautical flags and what each stands for. And I was so delighted to be able to use the flags myself instead of just lending them to friends. It was a great evening!!

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