Event planners Emily Read Bentley and Megan Douglas Shuler lend easy entertaining tricks.
- Make room on the table. “Everything but the place settings should fit on the runner,” says Shuler. “Otherwise the table gets crowded and uncomfortable.”
- Break out the good stuff. This fish-taco dinner sparkles, thanks to gold-plated flatware. And it functions smoothly with heavyweight cloth napkins (tacos are messy); small, easy-to-pass condiment bowls; and unbreakable dishes (melamine that looks like ceramic).
- Add charming details. Place cards with names and your salsa recipe on the back add personality without taking up table space. A pot of succulents festooned with roses from the garden (or the supermarket) makes a stunning, effortless centerpiece.