Set the table, set the mood.

Hmmm… So what does mine say about me and my vibe? Poor-But-Pretty? Cheap & Chic? Maybe Save & Splurge like the glossies tell me how to dress? I know that my table, our meal and the atmosphere need to be approachable, easy, elegant. I go high and low with my plates and silverware and tchotchkes but I always make sure to keep in mind a few rules of thumb. For my newbie hostesses and young couples venturing into the sometimes-intimidating world of entertaining, my Four- Rule Cheat Sheet:

  1. Soft Light: Everyone looks good in candlelight- and so does every table. Bathe yours in the glow of candle sticks, votives, pillars, tea lights and everything in between. Golden is good.
  2. Sparkle: Nowadays, sparkle comes cheap. Sparkly ornaments are a really economical way to jazz up the bare patches of your table that aren’t filled with flatware, plates or food. I found ours for $2.95/each at Pottery Barn. Inexpensive napkin rings- like my silver bamboo rings- keep the look pretty and simple.
  3. Silver: Here is where you splurge- or cozy up to Mom or Grandma or your aunt for the good stuff. Nothing is as classic or drop-dead gorgeous as real silver on the table. I know, I know, this is a major investment. If you’re newly engaged, put silver at the top of your list (just below must-have kitchen appliances). If you’ve been hitched for a few years, try to start collecting on major occasions like birthday or Christmas. Still can’t manage? Pottery Barn’s little sister, CB2, has very sleek flatware.
  4. Seriously Good Food: You spent all last night making that pie- put it on display! We love our cake stand and our family-style platters because they allow us to make our yummy food the centerpiece.

Happy table, happy girls… Cheers!