Be organized: Look at what you have. Make a list and select the tableware and décor you want to use. Knowing what you have to work with will make you less stressed when creating your look.
Think about the menu: You want your table to work with the meal. Your table will still look beautiful after the food is served when you coordinate with your meal because you are ultimately preparing for what you need in advance.
Build a centerpiece: “Just reach for things that you already have, like pretty bowls or elegant vases,” says TV star, Nate Berkus. “They create height on the table without being overbearing.” Remember, keep things low—you want your guests to be able to see one another.
Use candlelight: People feel more at ease in dim lighting. Candlelight is always flattering, no matter what the situation, it creates warmth and ambiance.
Mix rare and common: Beauty can come from the most non-traditional of places. Mixing materials, both high and low creates a collected feel.
Don’t be afraid of color or mixing patterns: These elements can make your table come alive. “Stick with one or two colors and you can’t go wrong,” says table setting queen Sue Fisher King. “To me, white says, so what?”
Incorporate Nature: Look to nature for inspiration—fresh flowers and greenery give the table a fresh look. Often the most beautiful decorations are found right outside.
Keep it simple: Stylish host Danielle Rollins prefers to keep her settings more relaxed, “I like things to be very low-key, clean and simple.” It can help set the tone of the whole evening.
Experiment and have fun! “Remember, your table is just for a couple of hours,” says Madeline Weinrib. “You’re not stuck with how it looks for the rest of your life. So experiment and have fun.”
This article originally appeared on Veranda.com