How to Set a Table with Style

With 25 years of entertaining experience, we're serving up practial advice and shopping tips for all the essentials you need to host a dinner party.

Start with timeless classics, then add fashionable accents. Dinnerware, stemware, flatware: much like building a wardrobe and deciding what to wear, start with the basics. Layer those pieces on the table and then accessorize with seasonal or trendy items. On the topic of metals, pick one — silver, pewter, gold — and stick with it for all your acquisitions. The same goes for selecting anything made of wood: walnut, maple, acacia — choose one. It will simplify shopping decisions and unify the look on your table.


1 Flatware

Get set to entertain with a set of 12 place settings. Skip sterling silver: 18/10 stainless steel is scratch-resistant and dishwasher-safe.

2 Dinnerware

Basic white is your best bet to showcase any meal. And while it may be pricier, dishwasher-safe bone china reigns supreme for durability.

3 Stemware

Ensure wine glasses fit in the top rack of your dishwasher. Otherwise, be prepared to hand wash.

4 Table Linens

More durable than cotton, worry-free white linen can be bleached if stained. But if you hate the prospect of ironing, polyester table linens are by far the easiest to care for. Just wash and dry.

Serving Platters and Dishes

From serving platters to extra utensils, be sure to have these basics on hand.

Serving Boards

Long, narrow serving boards are ideal for setting right in the middle of a dining table, leaving charcuterie, cheeses and appetizers within easy arm’s reach for all. For wooden boards, keep them looking pristine by cutting on certain ones and reserving others solely for serving.

Serving Bowls

Stock up on serving bowls of various sizes, ideally ones that can stack for compact storage.

Serving Sets

Begin with a full hostess set (serving spoon, slotted spoon, oversized fork, cake knife, butter knife and sugar spoon) and a carving set.

Delicious Details

Trust your great taste and add personal touches.

Make any meal a memorable occasion by taking the time to focus on the smallest of details — from presentation to ambiance — to create an outstanding experience and lasting impression.


Pedestals & Tiered Stands

From appetizers to desserts, whatever food is being served looks extra special when presented up on a pedestal or in tiers. And it’s a smart way to present food when you’re challenged for space.


Flameless candles have a flickering faux flame —  safe, worry-free, drip-free alternative to lighting candles at the table.

Cups and Saucers

Mugs are for everyday use, but for dinner parties serve coffee or tea in cups with saucers.


Even if you own a single-serve coffee machine, it’s wise to have an option to brew coffee for all your guests at once.