We love few things more than a beautiful, well-cooked meal (obviously), but there's more to eating than the food itself. Presentation is half the battle when it comes to impressing your guests, so it helps to think of your tabletop as a canvas—what big and little touches can you place on it to really bring your dining experience to life? Check out a few of our favorite easy tabletop transformations (they give a big bang for the buck, to boot).
First things first: Set the table in style. Any run-of-the-mill element of your tabletop can be revamped, from glasses (stackable glasses in three sizes!) to cutlery (playfully curved stainless steel!) to dishware (colorful bamboo bowls!). Placemats, tablecloths, and other seemingly basic decor elements can also be a great tool for jazzing up your table when you take advantage of elements of geometry and color. Get creative.
Dessert, of course, is a perfect opportunity to trot out some special pieces—when you're presenting a beautiful spectacle of sweetness, why not do it in style? Consider putting your pastry on a pedestal with a cake stand: It's an elegant yet confident way to display pride in your baking and to get your guests excited for a delicious capper to their meal.
One little element that can add a lot to your tabletop ambiance is lighting—candlelight being the classic way of creating intimacy and warmth for yourself and your dinner companions. The great thing about candles, of course, is that they can come in any shape, size, or hue, adding a gorgeous touch whether they're lit or not. But if you're one to worry about fire and wax, you can also think about a flame-free, durable alternative. Intertwining a string of LED lights through branches or vines, for instance, creates a mealtime mashup of modern technology and rustic charm.