Entertaining Made Simple: Table + Teaspoon Delivers Effortless Table Design
Whether you are hosting a bridal shower, bridesmaid gathering or a newlywed who wants to entertain the in-laws--setting the perfect table can be stressful. San Francisco-based company Table + Teaspoon has taken the guesswork out of a dinner party by offering curated, table settings available for rent, from the plates to the napkins and everything in between. We caught up with founder Liz Curtis to get the scoop on one of the chicest parties-in-a-box we've seen.
What inspires your designs?
My company speaks most to millennials who want to entertain, but have no idea how, and also want things done quickly without a lot of effort or huge mess to deal with after the party is over. Many of my peers desire the elegant entertaining we watched our parents and grandparents carry off perfectly. Creating memories with friends, hosting colleagues and clients, family holidays--all of this is both appealing and intimidating.
Table + Teaspoon takes the guesswork out of the equation. We curate the table settings, send you exactly what you need with step-by-step instructions, provide an elegant box to send everything back in once you’re finished, do all the dirty dishes, and let you take the credit! No curating, cleaning, storing, or paying an arm and a leg for dishware, flatware, glasses, and linens you may only use once a year. With these factors for my target demographic in mind, I decided that six settings would allow me to provide enough design range without scaring people away. I also made each napkin double-sided so that the customer can pick which side they prefer for their particular party. For example, with The Cabot you can be whimsical with the octopus side, or classic with the navy and white trellis pattern.
From there, I wanted a sophisticated neutral design (The Hadley); an on-point trendy design (The Monroe); a patriotic nautical design (The Cabot); a Thanksgiving/Christmas design (The Jane); a colorful playful design (The Lauren); and my personal favorite - the always chic black/white stripe paired with rose gold design (The Parker).
Can customers make changes or mix and match designs?
Customers choose from six preset designs, making the process incredibly easy. The settings were designed to cover all bases, from a classic holiday dinner party to a feminine bridal shower. Each package contains an oversized luxury textile runner, dual-sided napkins so that the customer can pick which side is best for their aesthetic, dinner plate, salad plate, gold, rose gold or platinum flatware, wine glass, water glass, menu card, place card, paper straw, taper candles, and candlesticks. We do understand that weddings are a little different than dinner parties, because the bride and groom-to-be want their aesthetic as a couple to be on-point with the decor. For this reason, we take mix-and-match requests for wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners on a case by case basis.
How did you come up with this concept?
The On-Demand economy is enormous, and growing exponentially everyday. People want to entertain in their homes, but don’t know how or don’t have the bandwidth to anymore. Hiring an event planner every time you have people over, or curating and buying your own dishware is expensive and time-consuming.
I knew that this was a space that needed disrupting, what I didn’t realize is that I could disrupt two industries at the same time. The On-Demand Food is a $4 billion industry, but everything comes without anything to serve it on (cocktails, chefs, groceries, meal kits, etc.). Event Rental is a $5 billion industry, with no tech innovation whatsoever. The market was clearly ripe for innovation and no one was doing it.
The specific idea for how to go about this disruption hit me the summer of 2015, while picking up my zillionth order from an enormous (and very unglamourous) party rental warehouse in South San Francisco. In a city where you can order literally anything on-demand, flowers, dresses, tuxes, meals, chefs, groceries, cocktails, servers, sommeliers, why can’t you similarly order your tablescape? Pulling together everything you need to serve your meal can be more daunting than preparing the meal itself. So what if there was a website you could go to, put in your party date and the number of guests, choose from beautifully curated designs that include everything you need to set your table, get all of this on your doorstep with step-by-step instructions, and then box it back up and send it away dirty when your party is over?
With this new idea in mind, I used my entire savings and a loan from my family to bootstrap the vision for a “rent the table” business model. This meant personally designing flatware and linens, forming relationships with glassware and China manufacturers, hiring seamstresses to sew the runners and napkins I sketched out and picked fabric for, finding a suitable space to store, sanitize, and ship product, creating elegant boxes that would ship both ways without breakage, and relaunching the Table + Teaspoon site as an ecommerce platform with rental capabilities. As with most startups, everything took at least twice as long as anticipated, with many tears, late nights, and seemingly impossible hurdles along the way. We launched on August 8th, and have been guns blazing ever since!
How often will you debut new designs?
We put a great deal of thought into our packages so that they will only have to be replaced once a year. We study everything from au courant fashion couture to the origins of the first dinner parties documented in history to ensure that our settings are the penultimate in luxury design.
One of our next projects is to incorporate add-on packages to make settings more holiday and theme focused. For example, baby shower treats to pair with The Monroe, and Christmas decor to go with The Parker. This will make our existing packages translate perfectly to your specific event.
What is your favorite entertaining tip?
Comfort food is key. People crave dishes and flavors they are familiar with, so don’t overthink it by pulling out all the stops with a zillion new recipes. Typically, I add one new item to my menu and then use tried-and-true recipes I’m familiar with and know I won’t mess up. Similarly, keep appetizers simple (think cheese and charcuterie plate) so that you can focus on more difficult tasks like plating the meal and not burning the house down. To make guests feel immediately at ease, prepare a signature cocktail to hand out upon arrival. This way, if you’re running late in the kitchen, your guests won’t notice!
What advice would you give newlyweds who have just started entertaining?
Forgetting to relax and have fun! What makes a dinner party (or wedding) go from average to amazing? I promise you, it’s not the finest caviar and best French bubbles, or that Hermes china you've secretly been coveting for your registry. When you entertain, you are opening your home to the people you love. You want to make sure that your friends and new family see this the instant they walk through your front door. Give guests the feeling that you care about them being in your home and that you’ve put a great deal of thought into their evening - because this feeling is what they will remember. Entertaining is about the thought, not the execution. And no matter what happens, don’t forget to laugh. There’s always pizza delivery and more wine…
CABOT: Nantucket-inspired place setting with a touch of whimsy featuring navy and white print with reversal napkins
HADLEY: Sophisticated gray and silver setting that is understated and elegant
JANE: Warm chocolate and cream hues are a perfect setting for the holidays
LAUREN: Vibrant shades of orange and pink
MONROE: Preppy meets Caribbean flair in this banana-leaf and pink print design
THE PARKER: Inspired by Palm Springs, this chic and versatile black and white setting is versatile and modern