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How-To: Set the Table For a Fab Party


In a recent New York Times article, interior designer David Serrano (pictured at right, seated), who also owns the glamorous shop Downtown and Outside Downtown, offered some advice on setting a party table. Serrano says, "[Setting a table] is emblematic of your personal style . . . My job has always been to create a beautiful tabletop that will complement the great food and wonderful guests.”

Here are my favorite tips from Mr. Serrano:

  • Consider serving everything family style. This allows you to mix china patterns, display funky glasses that might not match, and in general, create a more festive atmosphere at the table.
  • Don't be afraid to mix things up. As Serrano notes, “I like new things mixed with old things, cheap things from Pier 1 mixed with fancy things from Hermès.”
  • If you're decorating for a birthday party, include party favors for everyone at the party. They don't have to be expensive; just make sure they are beautiful and useful. For instance, a tiny potted herb tied with a ribbon would be a great present for a chef or gardener's birthday party.
  • For the rest of the tips, read more.

  • Set the tone of the table with one unique, eyecatching object, such as an unusual vase or decorative urn.
  • Avoid distracting objects, such as giant, fragrant floral arrangements.
  • If you use candles, make sure they're unscented.
  • Don't forget dessert! You can even coordinate frosting color on your cake or cupcakes with the colors of your tablescape.

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