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Friday, July 19, 2024

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Setting the table | Udenie Wickramasinghe | Miami, Florida

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ශ්‍රී LankaNZ is a free distributed Sri Lankan Community Newspaper that aims to reach a Sri Lankan population of over 18,000 all over New Zealand. The demand for entertainment in literacy media itself gave birth to ශ්‍රී LankaNZ

OK! “Who has the time for all the fuss?” “I don’t know how to set a table!”

“I don’t have time for lengthy preparations”. “I am clueless about how to place tableware!” At some point in our lives, we have said these things to ourselves to find excuses.

Whether it’s a birthday party for twenty, a family sitting down for a holiday meal, or an informal lunch with friends, setting a table is all about how much you pay attention to your guests and how meaningful your relationships are with each other.

The day-to-day grind has taken every minute of our day, so our meals tend to be informal, and none of us wants to be confined by rules. It has to be easy. It has to work. A decent table has great table linen, flatware, drinkware, and plates. It can instantly make a table extra special if there are flowers, candles, and linen. Without traditional elaborate table setting, a table can still look put together. Flowers add life and color, and candles create a warm glow and intimacy that enhances the mood of your guests. Do not hesitate to display flatware creatively. When using linen napkins, either you can fold them or use a napkin ring to give a unique look. You can find beautiful disposable paper napkins in the market these days that will save you a lot of time. Drinking glasses and wine glasses do not necessarily need to match, and keeping things not too contrasting is the key to a balanced color palette.

Let’s say you don’t want to set up a table to entertain your guests. In that case, the sky is the limit! The beach, backyard, and a green patch in the park are perfect spots for entertaining with no-fuss meals. I celebrate my kids’ birthday parties in the most beautiful wooded setting in the area. There are no paved pathways, no sign of a playground, and you won’t see any bouncy castles or toys lying around. My kids hesitated to bring their friends to this place, but I knew they would have a lot of fun because they had to innovate new ideas to keep themselves entertained. The beauty of these gatherings comes from an unpretentious life that is easy on you.

These are some of my favorite things that need minimal preparation.

  • Crackers, cheese, hummus, pita bread
  • Veggies (celery sticks, baby carrots, mini cucumbers with a homemade dip)
  • Cut fruit (a giant platter of watermelon!)
  • Grapes, mandarins
  • Juice boxes, bottled water, iced tea, wine
  • Easy tacos with toppings all ready to go
  • Hotdogs and buns (if there is a park grill)
  • Cake or cupcakes in a cooler
  • Pretty disposable paper plates, napkins, and cups (note* if you have patterned serveware, use a plain tablecloth. If it’s a patterned tablecloth, use cups and plates that have no design)

I adore these gatherings because the outdoor unrefined beauty adds an unexpected elegance to my meal. Kids roam around picking up sticks and patterned leaves, my son collects tiny rocks, and everyone has found a spot to settle in. Laughter flows effortlessly, and food disappears! These treasured moments make me most alive. I have learned to embrace simplicity and wholesomeness in a moment.

How do we start to hold onto the essence of life, especially when we feel plain and ordinary? Life is slipping away every single day. Another birthday, another anniversary, and another milestone pass just like that. Whether it’s a formal dinner or a picnic at the beach, we must try bringing liveliness and authenticity into our homes in a way that frees us. An easy outlook on a carefree aesthetic allows you to have fun; an unorthodox sense of freedom and soulful living makes anyone feel at ease.

Why do we do what we do? Whatever your life story can be, filling this life with meaningful human relationships is what ultimately makes this life worth living.

Are we going to worry about a table setting or are we going to rejoice in the laughter and warmth brought by kindred spirits?

 

By Udenie Wickramasinghe – Miami, Florida

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