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How to Set an Elegant Table—No Matter What Kind of Day You've Had

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Today: Planning a "tablescape" sounds more like a geography test than an art project. But with versatile pieces (inspired by our new, exclusive ceramics from Moonstar Pottery!), it can be as inventive or easy as your day allows.

Some days, decorating for a dinner party is the kind of thing that's exciting to plan and pull off—but other days, it's more like a chore (right up there with cleaning the house), and one so daunting it prevents you from inviting people in the first place. Don't let your schedule or serveware dictate your ability to entertain; with these ideas for putting together a polished tabletop any night of the week, you'll be confident playing host a whole lot more.

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Moonstar Ceramics Pitcher, Tumbler, Bowls

 

For when it's been "one of those days" and your guests are due any minute...

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Moonstar Ceramics Triangle Bowls Moonstar Ceramics Cutaway Pitcher

Be matchy matchy. 

We're all about a hodgepodge style, but there's a time and a place for using all pieces from a single collection (that's why you registered for them, right?). The key is to choose a dishware line in neutral tones that offers a few striking designs—so that bold, modern pitcher can speak can volumes (without screaming) when you don't have time to fuss with much else.

 

For those (rare, prized) golden days when eating indoors is not an option...

Celina Mancurti Indigo Linen Tablecloth Prosecco Glasses Set of 2

Embrace delicates.

A linen tablecloth is hard to beat for an instant hit of romance—especially when you fling it across any old table set up in the backyard. Your most delicate glassware (for iced Aperol spritzes, obviously) is a must to complete the fairytale feel, and the dress code should be resolutely caftans.

 

For when you wake up on the right side of the bed...

How to Arrange Flowers Gold Flatware Set Mepra

Be bold.

When you have more than a moment to spare (and the right mood to go for it), pick up fresh flowers and set about arranging them in a vase that makes it easy on you. This is the day to break out your shiny gold flatware and try a new recipe—when nothing could possibly burst your bubble.

 

For when it's lousy out but you've been inside for too long...

Natural Wooden Platter Gold Dahlia Coasters Chilewich

Go with the grain. 

Even if you can't set up dinner on a breezy, jasmine-bedecked terrace (we really should all be so lucky), bringing a dose of the outdoors in is arguably even easier. Natural wood platters, dahlia-shaped coasters (or placemats!), and anything floral will deliver just the breath of fresh air you're craving. 

 

For everyday dinners on everyday nights...

Edged Linen Dinner Napkins Dot & Army 16" Maple Lazy Suzan Boston HandyWorks

Act natural. 

Investing in durable linen napkins in a stain-proof hue will not just spare a tree or two, it will also make your most normal of nights a little more refined without adding any pain to cleanup (just toss them in the wash). And a good lazy susan is not just granny's trick: A dinner that all but serves itself? You'll be saying thanks before you know it.

 

For Fridays...

Japanese Copper Cocktail Shaker Walnut Serving Board Cattails

Make it easy on everyone.

Sure, you could just serve wine and beer. But what about putting a nice copper cocktail shaker (plus a few spirits and mixers) right in the middle of the table on the night when your guests might need it? No one will be mad—and since all you have to do complete the table is offer up a serving board full of snacks—you won't be either.

 

For days that get away from you...

Brass Lift Trivet Staub Large Cast Iron Oval Roasting Dish

Eat from the pot. 

Place a catchy modern trivet on the table and your guests will have something to talk about while they get themselves settled. Top it with a steaming roasting dish of anything right from the oven, and they'll pipe down pretty quickly.

 

For parties that you know will to run too long...

Beehive Alchemy Candles Extra Large Gold Ice Bucket

Light up the night. 

The key here is to embrace a little darkness—armed with high-shine essentials, of course. Colorful candles transition from daytime centerpiece to evening light source at the strike of a match, and when's a better time to break out your big gold ice bucket than right here, right now?

 

For when your parents are in town and insist on *just* eating in...

Precision Cut Napkin Rungs Silver Plated Cake Stand Acme Party Box

Remember what they taught you.

Even if they're not traditionalists, almost all parents will exhibit awe and delight at the use of such grown-up novelties as napkin rings and cake stands (and a silver plated one is extra affordable). Do yourself a favor—especially if you're serving dinner on the coffee table and sitting on the floor—and have some on hand. You might even like it. 

What are your favorite tabletop pieces (and serveware that does the same trick)? Tell us in the comments!

Tags: home, place settings, entertaining, mood