A beautiful tablescape can make any dinner party feel like a luxe celebration. From colored glassware to striking centerpieces and gold accents, adding a few upscale elements can transform your table from ordinary to stunning. If you are getting ready to host, read on as we reveal some of our favorite ideas for making your dinner party tablescape shine.
If you are searching for a subtle way to add elegance and eye-catching design to your dinner party tablescape, opt for a burst of color. My Domaine admires a setup from designer John Robshaw where a lovely blue and white tablescape was “punctuated with magenta flowers, creating an evergreen balance between warm and cool tones.” You can also reference your signature color elsewhere in small ways. For example, magenta could then appear in the ribbons used to tie napkins or on candles or vases that appear mid-table or on a nearby sideboard.
Autumnal and winter dinner party tablescapes often flow toward tones of orange, gold, red, and brown, but deciding to bring the unexpected will make your design feel all the more luxurious. Designer Temidra Willock-Morsch explains to Martha Stewart Living: “‘The trick is to take the more vibrant jewel tones—teal, sapphire, emerald—and mix them with neutrals to create a fun, but not too overpowering color combination.’”
Colored glassware is having a moment, and it is easy to see why, particularly for those hosting dinner parties in the fall. Expert Dana Dore confides to The Spruce: “‘Fall is my favorite time to incorporate colored glassware onto the table. Whether it is cranberry red, amber, blush, or blue, there is something about the richness of colored glassware that feels ‘fall’ to me.’” Are you afraid you might not have enough glassware in the same shade? That’s not a problem. Mixing and matching colors can create an elegantly eclectic tablescape that your guests will adore.
Gold accents are perfectly on trend for fall and winter dinner party tablescapes. Not only do they tie in with the colors frequently associated with the harvest, but gold automatically elevates a setting. If you want to incorporate gold accents in small, impactful ways, think about swapping your standard dishes and flatware for ones with a special glow. Designer Mark Feldman tells The Spruce: “‘A trend that is really popular for this upcoming season is selecting a white set of dishes and accenting them with gold serveware, flatware, and glasses. The items can either be completely gold or have beautiful gold accents, creating a warm festive … feel.’”
Want to strike an opulent tone? Decorist designer Alison Leigh raves to Martha Stewart Living that her dream dinner party tablescape would be done in vibrant blues and gold accents. Leigh loves the idea of setting the stage with “bone China dinnerware in a mixture of old patterns and geometric prints [and creating] artistry with gold flatware with a contemporary twist.” Leigh also adores adding “glassware trimmed in gold mixed with a silver goblet” and elevating the ambiance with “crystal votive candle holders in a square pattern and regal blue napkins with gold napkin rings.”
For a dramatic look, consider creating a tablescape that has floor-to-ceiling appeal. If your dinner party is outside, hanging a chandelier with gold accents or colorful glass will not only elevate the atmosphere but also give you a reference to play off of in the linens, glassware, flatware, and flowers. Want something whimsical yet luxe for an inside gathering? My Domaine was impressed by a recent design that started with a vivid mobile. Based on that, the pinks, yellows, and purples were repeated with intention on the seat cushions, placemats, flowers, and napkins. It was just the right amount of color to make the scene feel mod yet refined.
Modern Place Cards
Would you like to establish a specific seating plan at your next dinner but want something other than a plain place card? There is an endless array of options for something that can better fit your theme while helping to create your ideal dinner party tablescape. My Domaine appreciates the idea of giving a modern feel to a “timeless finishing touch” by taking a page (or card) from Brittni Mehlhoff’s book. Mehlhoff of Paper & Stitch crafted graceful place cards showing only the first initial of each guest in a bold, modern script.
Meanwhile, Martha Stewart Living enjoys the idea of having a place card do double duty. In one of the Magazine’s favorite examples, the place card included the guest’s name at the top in a lovely gold print, with the menu printed below it. The Magazine applauds: “It makes an elegant addition to the table, especially when paired with gilded greenery and a wrapped napkin.” Hosting a family gathering? Consider printing a small-scale childhood photo of each guest, framing them, and using the beautifully framed photos as truly bespoke “place cards.”
Flower arrangements make for classic centerpieces, but if you are crafting your dinner party tablescape in the fall, you may want to lean into harvest themes. Designer Mahaley Woods raves to The Spruce: “‘For a seasonal design, pair whole fruits or veggies and other autumnal elements with your blooms to give the table a lush, bountiful feel … This allows your table to exude that coveted fall feeling with tasteful and purposeful styling.’” Kate Fairlie at Truffle Tablescapes agrees and suggests to the Magazine that not only can you enjoy apples, pears, or pomegranates as decorations during the meal, but you can incorporate them into specialty cocktails later in the evening.
Are you searching for something that complements a moody or chic black and white palette? If flowers won’t work for the atmosphere you want to promote, My Domaine suggests keeping “the cool vibes alive with pampas grass or dried wheat.” The grass or wheat elements can be wonderfully highlighted in multiple small vases running down the table’s center. At the same time, individual wheat stems can serve as decoration on empty plates.
Festive dinner party tablescapes can be given an extra boost when garnished with organic accents. While metallic napkin rings are graceful and classic, tucking scented herbs into your napkin display works as a charmingly unique enhancer. The experts explain to The Spruce: “Rosemary and thyme tucked into napkins can garnish G&Ts as the meal progresses, or take a sprig of your fresh, faux, or dried flower display and [keep it tucked] into each napkin. This will pull the color from the center of the table out to each guest place.”
If you and your friends share a love of great music, having a dinner party that incorporates that aspect might just make it the social event of the season. Michiel Perry, the founder of Black Southern Belle, reveals to Martha Stewart Living that she loves to surround herself with great Southern style and music. Naturally, her dream tablescape would also reflect those elements. With a playlist running in the background, Perry tells the Magazine that “each place setting would be unique and represent some of my favorite Southern artists [and the] menu would of course feature some of my Southern favorites and be inspired by the music on the playlist.”
If fine art inspires you, it is likely to inspire your guests. Small artistic details on your tablescape and sideboard can convey the theme and allow you to personalize your celebration. Karin Strayborn, in an interview with Martha Stewart Living, agrees: “‘I believe adding small touches of art like statues, masks, and pictures, adds a foundational element to [a] theme.’”
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