When I have proffered an ‘instant invitation’ –you know, someone calls to say they will be passing through your area and you find yourself saying, “Why don’t you stop for a simple lunch or dinner?”. . . but as soon as you put down the phone you moan, “Now what do I do?” Fortunately, I usually have big bowls or baskets of red or green apples around the house — or can have them with a quick run to the grocery store. That, plus a few house plants (in this case African violets borrowed from guest bathrooms) and I can create an ‘instant table’ and concentrate on what I will prepare for the lunch or dinner.
Another quickie table, featured in Veranda a couple of years back, is something I do all the time. When I have no flowers at hand (because it is winter or simply a moment when nothing is in bloom in the garden), I use house plants such as ferns — here a large Boston fern flanked by smaller Maidenhair ferns — again mixed with fruit (key limes from the grocery store). The ferns and limes strengthen the green theme of the table, which creates a sense of welcome and occasion for guests.