Ever since I purchased a beautiful tablecloth, embroidered with olive branches, I’ve been wanting to create a Greek tablescape.
Last September, while on a Visit to Amazing Ancient Athens, I noticed shops selling cotton clothing and linens everywhere. Later, on an excursion outside the capital to Delphi: Center of the World, we saw cotton being harvested. Lining the road, on both sides of the highway, were little cotton balls that had escaped during baling and transport. It actually looked it had snowed in Greece!
Our guide explained that Greece is a major producer and exporter of cotton — accounting for more than 80 percent of European production. Neighboring Turkey, imports over a third of the cotton. Making up eight percent of Greece’s agricultural output, high-quality Egyptian cotton is very important to the economy.
The evening before boarding a Small Ship Greek Island Cruise, a tablecloth embroidered with black olives, caught my eye. I knew it would go perfectly with my china back home. And, linens were one of the few souvenirs that would also fit in my luggage!
It’s taken me nearly a year to style a Greek tablescape, and it’s got me longing to return there!
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It’s Greek to Me!
We were on our way to dinner, walking through the ancient Plaka neighborhood that sits at the base of the Acropolis. That’s when I spotted the tablecloth and matching napkins that are the foundation of this Greek tablescape.
I think the friendly shop owner was as determined as I was to get linens into my suitcase, LOL! And, Mr. Buzz really liked the pattern and color scheme too. Problem was, I couldn’t remember what size I needed! My mahogany table is uniquely wide, and I wanted the cloth to fit with one of the boards inserted.
Don’t you love the Greek-style urn holding the olive branches? And I think the wheat-like images embroidered in the cloth actually represent cotton?
There’s also a thick border with the classic Greek Key pattern surrounding the edges of the tablecloth. My biggest concern that border might hang awkwardly. Hmm, I just realized none of my pictures show the lovely four-inch edging. I’ll bee sure to share that in a follow-up post on the Greek and Roman influences in my home decor.
Metric vs Inches
Complicating matters was that the linen pattern came in a zillion sizes and shapes, including; placemats, runners, toppers and napkins. Retired engineer husband was in charge of converting metric measurements into inches for me. Still I fretted on the size. I knew I had to go longer to account for the width of the table.
So, even though it was closing time, the helpful owner spread out size after size for me to examine and try to visualize in the dining room. Thanks to hubby, we ended up getting the smaller of two tablecloths I was stuck between. It fits the dining room table at home perfectly!
I hate haggling over price, but the owner wanted to bargain and started making various offers. It’s what they do in Greece. In the end, I was pleased with the price that included eight matching napkins.
Setting the Table
My china is the now-retired pattern, Lenox Eclipse; a wedding gift from my parents. I chose it for its ivory color and ornate black and metallic gold-decorated rim.
For the Greek tablescape, I layered the dinner plates over ornate gold chargers for the host and hostess settings.
You’ve seen the dishes and serving pieces in other formal settings, including; Thanksgiving Horn of Plenty Table.
Raise a Glass
Smoke black wine goblets were purchased specifically for the Greek Tablescape. For the past several years, I’d been looking for black stemware, without success. Can you tell they are from Dollar Tree? If you order a case of 12 online, you can pick them up at the store in a box suitable for storage. Handy when you are a dish addict and your cabinets are already stuffed full! And, I love that they fit in the dishwasher.
For serving ouzo, Greece’s national drink, I chose these tall, cylinder-shaped glasses, which remind me of Greek columns.
“Ouzo is a sweet, strong alcoholic beverage similar to a liqueur, which is made from the by-products of grapes after they’ve been used for wine-making (mainly the skins and stems). It’s then distilled into a high-proof alcoholic beverage that’s flavoured primarily with anise, which gives it a distinctive liquorice taste.” cctalents
Originally, I used the glasses for drinking iced vodka for a Russian theme dinner.
But, for this occasion, I raise my ouzo glass and toast, “ymas!” — “to your health” or “cheers” in Greek.
No Plate Smashing Here!
“Opa!” is a common Greek emotional expression. It is frequently used during celebrations such as weddings or traditional dancing. In Greek culture, the expression sometimes accompanies purposeful or accidental plate smashing.” Wikipedia
For the other four place settings, I incorporated another pattern of Lenox plates — ones I haven’t shared with you before.
A couple of years ago, when downsizing, mom gave eight-settings of her Lenox Hancock dishes to my niece. Newly married (see Hand Painted, Wedding Flutes), she has no space to store all the china. Temporarily, the dishes are residing in boxes at her parents’ home.
Rather than sell-off the remaining four dinner plates and several serving pieces, Sistah B helped mom to send them to me for safe-keeping.
I layed the Hancock plates on a different style of gold charger, and added an Eclipse salad plate on top. Can you see the difference in the border design? Don’t you think the two Lenox patterns work well together?
Go for the Gold?
Flanking all six place settings are great-grandmother’s sterling silver flatware. Not exactly ancient like the Parthenon, but pretty vintage in our family, LOL! When I opened the lined silverware drawer, I was dismayed by how tarnished the flatware was. Ugh! Several hours of polishing later, it now reveals a beautiful patina.
Of course, gold-color flatware would look spectacular on a Greek tablescape. I found some with a Greek Key pattern I’m considering from Amazon (see link at end). Should I “go for the gold” or be content with silver? Do you have gold flatware? I worry the gold might fad or chip off?
Put a Lid on It
Replacements, Inc. offered a fair price for the Hancock teacups and saucers that my niece didn’t want, but peanuts for serving pieces. Perhaps because the Hancock pattern is still available (find it on Amazon at end of post)?
Since the covered vegetable complimented my wedding pattern, mom gifted it to me too. Someday, I’ll pass it down to my niece.
Here’s the matching lidded dish; a server I don’t have in the Eclipse pattern. It did require me to reorganize the entire china to find room for it though! Worth the effort, don’t you think?
Besides the black border pulling in the black olives embroidered on the tablecloth, I was excited to see sets of five gold rings around the plate rim. Can you make them out below?
In the Olympic flag, the five rings symbolize the five continents of the world; united in the games.
On our first day in Athens, we visited the Panathenaic Stadium; the only one in the world built entirely of marble. It is also where the Olympic flame handover ceremony to the host nation takes place.
That inspired me to try my hand at folding a napkin to resemble the torch for the Greek tablescape. What do you think, can you see a resemblance to the flame shape?
I also arranged the napkin so that the embroidered olive was in the middle of the flame.
Flame Fold 101
If you’d like to try your hand at the fold, it’s pretty straight-forward. All you need is a large napkin and a gold napkin ring. Begin by folding the napkin in half, and then in half again — so it looks like the image in the upper left corner below.
Fold in the two upper edges to meet each other in the middle. Make sure these are the ‘open’ edges of the napkin, rather than the folds. Next, pinch the napkin in the middle as shown above.
Have a ring handy to slip over the napkin, and position in the spot gathered together. Finally, take each of four upper napkin layers and fan them to the left; to resemble a flame.
Check out more fun to fabulous ideas at Napkin Folds for All Seasons, Holidays & Occasions.
How Sweet it Is!
For the napkin ring, I used a gold one decorated with a bee — a generous gift from my buddy Kem. I’ve shared them once before in, Meet Me at the Eiffel Tower Table Valentine. There, they represented the Napoleonic bee and my French ancestry.
What’s a bee got to do with a Greek tablescape you ask? Because, bees make honey and honey is the “nectar of the gods.” According to mythology, Zeus was raised on honey.
“Honey was the first sweetener used by the Greeks in their diet for the preparation of sweets and delicacies which made honey very popular in ancient Greece. Honey, grapes, and olives formed the beginning of Greek gastronomy.” Matt Barrett
Greece has more bee hives per acre than any other country in Europe — that means a lot of bees buzzing about!
Take a Seat with Apollo
Once I spread the tablecloth on the dining room table, I shopped my house for decor to create a centerpiece.
Who else to grace the Greek tablescape than Apollo? He was one of twelve Olympians in Greek mythology.
Last fall, we visited Delphi: Home of the Oracle, where the sanctuary and temple were dedicated to Apollo.
However, I’ve had the Apollo head planter at home for years. You might have seen him sprouting flowers out of his head in, Independence Day Decorations on my covered porch. He spends much of the warmer months outside; getting a little greener over time.
For the Greek tablescape, I filled the concrete planter with faux greenery.
Apollo is flanked by two gold-rubbed pedestals I often use at Christmas to hold a pair of cherubs.
For the Greek tablescape, I topped each with a crystal candlestick and gold candle; reminiscent of the columns at Zeus’ temple in Athens.
Greek Tablescape Set in Olive Grove
I was so excited to find little olive trees at Michaels to add to the Greek tablescape.
Like the pedestals, I used some metallic gold paint to glam them up a bit. I also wanted to soften the terracotta orange coloring of the pots.
Multi-surface paint leftover from DIY Shamrock Glasses and DIY Hand Painted Glasses was in my craft stash. Two coats of metallic gold paint, applied with a sponge, only took a couple of minutes.
How perfect are these olive trees with the embroidery on the tablecloth? A green glass urn will hold a olive oil-based vinaigrette for the salad.
Time to begin preparing the meal to accompany the Greek tablescape. There will be honey in both the main lamb dish, as well as the baklava for dessert. It’s been years since I’ve made baklava, so wish me luck!
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I regularly participate in: Metamorphous Monday, Turn About Tuesday, Centerpiece Wednesday, Whimsical Home Projects, In Link Party, Share Your Style, Tablescape Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Crafty Creators, Fabulous Friday, Saturday Sparks, Happiness is Homemade, and Love Your Creativity.
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This is breathtaking! What a way to remember your trip with those textiles, just gorgeous, Debbee. Every little detail and how they each tie into the sights and tastes of your Greek trip are really fab. The china is so elegant – all the pattern play works really well. Good ‘ol DT with the stemware. My sister has ordered online from them, but has not had as good of luck as you with no breakage in shipment (dishes, not stemware). I have bought their stemware in the store before, and when it breaks it shatters! That’s the only bad thing I can say about it, but hey, “Opa!”
ps – I say go for the gold. 😉 You can never go wrong with the Greek key design. I may not have brought all my dishes with me, but I did carry most of my flatware with me.
From a plate addict and super table stylist like yourself, that’s high praise Rita —thank you! Greece was such a fab-u-lous place, instead of scratching it from our bucket list, hubby and I hope to return someday and visit other islands.
I’ve had good success with other DT stemware; as I find it more heavy duty — not a break when doing my DIY Hand Painted Glasses & Champagne Flutes or in the dishwasher. I think the glassware with seasonal decorations are made of thinner stuff? I’m really tempted to “go for the gold” — just trying to figure out where to store it.
Lovely tablescape. The embroidered tablecloth and napkins are beautiful. I think you should buy the Greek key design flatware; the price is reasonable and they will look great with your table. I love my gold flatware and it goes so well with my Lenox.
Thanks so much Lauren, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. The flatware is pretty reasonable and I probably can store it in a box somewhere — maybe under the couch, LOL! But, does the gold hold up over time, or does it fad, tarnish or peel off?
Your tablescape is just gorgeous and I enjoyed the bits of Greece I got to see, too! Thank you!
Thanks Kathy, I really enjoyed putting it together. I published three posts so far on that dream trip to Greece. I’m nearly a year behind going through hundreds of pictures; with three more islands to go — including stunning Santorini.
Just awesome Debbee, I love the aged look on the head planter and that tablecloth is beautiful as are the plates.
American cotton can be dyed, bleached, and boiled but I see a lot of foreign cotton says Do Not Bleach. I had a bathmat turn bright orange. Do not let anybody spill something on the tablecloth.
Replacements ? You need a “for sale” link for plate addicts.
Glad you enjoyed it Myrna. I have a second, larger head planter, but it’s so heavy I was nervous putting it on the table. I didn’t know that about foreign cotton — thanks for the warning! I’ve used the tablecloth twice now, including for my dad’s celebration of life gathering. So far so good! Hmm, I’ll have to think about how to do a buy/sell center for fellow plate addicts. An interesting idea!
A beautiful trip to inspire a beautiful table. I had no idea that cotton is one of Greece’s main exports. I love learning new things. ?
Me neither — it wasn’t until we were a couple hours drive out of Athens that we saw the incredible amount of harvesting going on. That’s when it made sense why so many shops specialized in linens or light, airy clothing.
What a fabulous way to relive extraordinary moments! Bringing something back from a country you visited is a perfect way to celebrate the experience. The embroidery design is gorgeous. I’m so glad you used your beautiful china and didn’t hide it away where it would languish. And the two patterns complement each other perfectly.
Hi Sandra, hope you are enjoying your summer? We always try to bring something back from our travels, including when the kids were young. I have decor all over the house that was a souvenir of sorts from vacations. But, the items are getting smaller as the house is full and we are retired and more often having to transport things from overseas. From Spain I brought home one small tapas plate. And most recently from Peru, a small Inca replica statue to accompany a Mayan one from Mexico.
Your tablescape is beautiful. Love the napkin fold and that tablecloth is gorgeous!
Thanks so much Ann! It took me a year to get it together, but I’m thrilled with the results. Finding those faux olive trees helped tie it all together.
I love your gorgeous table Debbee. We do seem to be on the same path. Your Greek head is lovely. The faux olive trees are wonderful. I so enjoy your travels. How special to travel to so many interesting place. Your napkin fold is perfect. That embroidery design is gorgeous. A lovely table designed with Greece in mind.
Linda, too bad we can’t put both our lovely planter heads together to create a tablescape, LOL! Thanks for your generous remarks. Now that hubby is retired, and we have no grandkids, it’s an excellent time for us to travel and have a few adventures together — while our knees, hips, etc. hold out anyway! Setting theme tables is like reading a book — they take away to wonderful places like Hawaii and Greece.
Love this tablestyling, Debbee! I am coming over from Amber’s FTYBR and Thursday Favorite Things. Beautiful!!! I love the photos you’ve shared from Greece. It’s on my bucket list of places to visit someday soon.
I’m glad you were able to bring a little of Greece home with you and this tablecloth is a lovely linen and is so pretty with it’s olive branches. Yes, the napkins do look like little Olympic torches!! Perfect for the summer Olympics which will come again next year.
Fingers crossed, an acquaintance Jenn Suhr (American women’s pole vaulter) will get selected again and this time vault really well! We know Stacy Dragila, too, America’s first Olympic gold medalist in women’s PV (our Peter went several times to her summer camp at the Olympic Training Center). Would love to feature your story for next week’s SYS.
Sounds like this table “lit a fire” for you, LOL? We didn’t visit Mt. Olympus ’cause there’s so much to see in Greece. You can see more in depth travel log and pics in the posts; Amazing Ancient Athens, Delphi: Center of the Ancient World and Small Ship Greek Island Cruise: Nafplio & Mykonos. I still have two more posts to cover all the islands to do!
Thanks for the party invite; I thought SYS had stopped when your co-host dropped out. Happy to know its back!
Thank you, Debbee! Trying to keep it up and running. 🙂 Love your beautiful tablescape still… Ready for that long trip!
Love hearing how your visit to Greece inspired this amazing tablescape. The tablecloth and napkins are beautiful, and your china is perfectly reflected. The olive tree topiaries are so fabulous, I’m such a fan of all topiaries. Thanks so much Debbee for coming to the party!
Just wish I could recreate so many of the marvelous foods and meals we had in Greece! Even though the tablecloth goes so well with my china, I also love that it can be used for more casual, perhaps alfresco dining. And, those olive trees were such a nice quality and value (on sale) from Michaels too.
Debbee, what a beautiful tablescape to remember your trip. It is so lovely and those linens are gorgeous. Congrats, you are being featured on Thursday Favorite Things. Hugs, Bev
Beverly, thanks for being such a regular fan of my tablescapes! I always am thrilled to be featured!
What a stunning and perfectly put together tablescape! I enjoyed all your thoughtful mindedness it must’ve taken to do this table and this post.
My best friend in college was born and raised in Athens, but came to the states to attend college.
He brought Ouzo back once and I remember as a young person trying it – licorice – wow – too strong for this wimp. But was fun to try!
I have never been to Greece, but one day pray I can. He’s back there now and it would be fun after an entire lifetime- to see one another again.
Praying for an end to Covid-19 travel scares. Stay well.
Thanks for “transporting” us to a pretty place today, being isolated it means a great deal to me. ♥
Welcome Michele and thankful for your generous remarks. I struggled with Ouzo too, but enjoyed all the Greek wines we tasted. And, oh the food, scenery and ancient ruins! If you want to visit Greece virtually, start with Visit Amazing Ancient Athens, Greece: Part 1, continue to Delphi and on the small ship cruise, ending in Santorini, Greece: Gem of the Aegean. Like you, I long to travel again, but I’d settle with being able to see family and friends and know all are safe.
I love this! Greece is one of my favourite places to visit, especially the greek islands. This table with the gorgeous embroidery and feature pieces is so evocative of nights I’ve spent there. Wonderful!
Aww Greece, right?! We hope to return in a couple of years and explore Crete. Appreciate you stopping by Jo! You might enjoy a few of my travel posts on Greece too, including Santorini, Greece: Gem of the Aegean and Delphi: Center of the Ancient World, Home of the Oracle.
Wonderful! I’m glad you shared this again. Great details!
Thanks Sarah! If the Olympics do take place in Japan this summer, I’ll have to set the Greek table setting to mark the event.
Debbee, how very cool to have a Greek tablescape. I love all the unique details and Apollo is fabulous! My mouth is watering just imagining a Greek menu to go with it. Love it!
I couldn’t wait to put that tablecloth from Athens to use Kim! I knew the colors would go well with my wedding china, but didn’t think of using Apollo until after starting to set the table. And how lucky was I that Michaels had those cute little faux olive trees?
Absolutely beautiful and the memories make it even more special! Thank you for sharing at Party In Your PJ’s.
Glad you enjoyed it Ann. It’s too bad that this summer Olympics is not the celebration we hoped for.
Love this Debbee, I know I commented already, but I wanted to feature your table at Love Your Creativity on Sunday.
P.S. I didn’t forget about you. Waiting to send you something.
So appreciate the feature Linda! Although we got to see the original stadium in Athens, we didn’t make it to Mt. Olympus while in Greece. Was dismayed to hear fires were raging in that area — like your CA. Hope all is ok with you and yours? We head to CA ourselves in about a month.