Entertaining Essentials for a Casual Table
The centerpiece: The traditional way to light a dining table is with tapers or votives. But chunky pillar candles are more dramatic—just place them on those bread plates you never use.
The place cards: “Even for small gatherings, place cards create a sense of occasion,” says Sherry. These placeholders double as party favors. Jars of holiday spices—nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon—evoke the colors and smells of the season. Wrap each with ribbon and secure it with a sticker on which the guest’s name is written.
The china and the flatware: White dishes illuminate the seasonally colored linens. The stainless-steel flatware is sturdy enough for regular use but smart enough for a dinner party.
The linens: “I usually shy away from color, but a runner and napkins are an easy way to experiment,” says Sherry, who normally uses twig place mats. Napkins in complementary colors keep the settings from becoming monotonous.
The glassware: Fancy wineglasses and water goblets would be as out of place here as high heels at a yoga class. Streamlined 14-ounce tumblers are a fine way to serve table wines and large enough to be water glasses.