An inviting table needs a few surprises. "For more personality, combine all your candlesticks – wood, crystal and porcelain," says design expert Robert Rufino.
Shop a similar look: colorful vases ($20, ), dark wood candle holder ($57, ), crystal wine glasses ($30, ), porcelain dishes ($160, )
Even if you're not serving soup. "An individual tureen makes a dish look like it was made just for you," says designer .
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"Always write your own place cards, even if your handwriting is quirky," says designer . "It makes the setting more personal."
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Tables should always be dolled up, even when the occasion is casual, says the founder of , Jane Scott Hodges. "Using colorful linens — instead of white or ivory — can really give your table personality," she says. "This isn't your grandma's table."
"We integrate succulents with cut flowers when we entertain," Susan and William Brinson, of the blog , say. "It's more like a landscape on the table, like nature indoors."
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For the owner of Millwright Design, , a formal yet lighthearted table helps set the stage for a lifetime of good manners. "Putting four candlesticks around the flower arrangement is a Swedish tradition I learned from my mother," she says.
Shop a similar look: blue napkins ($12, ), gold candle holders ($40, ), white candle sticks ($9, )
"The table is crowded enough to feel cozy, but it has breaks to create calm moments," Bronson van Wyck says. "Anything tall is thin, so nobody's view is blocked."
Shop a similar look: colorful glasses ($24, ), silver candle holders ($20, ), green candle sticks ($18, ), crystal vase ($40, )
Centerpieces don't have to be a floral arrangement. "I select artifacts my children or I have collected," says home furnishings designer . "These pieces have a richness of spirit, a softness of age and a story."
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The classic color combo of blue and white adds a fresh feel for fall. "Autumnal colors just pop against a blue and white tablecloth," says businesswoman and socialite . "For the flowers, I took the oranges, yellows and reds of the fruit for inspiration."
Shop a similar look: blue tablecloth ($18, ), green dishware set ($45, ), galvanized vases ($16, )
For an elegant holiday look, try layering. "Use a tablecloth and a placemat — or two — and a beautiful charger. The more the merrier," says Amen Wardy, one of Aspen's legendary retailers.
Shop a similar look: yellow wine glasses ($27, ), gold napkin ($16, ), placemat ($9, )
Break up a large bouquet and place each flower stem in a separate vase. "I do lots of single-bud bouquets, placed so you see the person sitting opposite you – so important," says Janice Feldman, the founder of .
Shop a similar look: bud vases ($17 for four, )
"Keep your centerpieces low so your guests can talk to each other without needing a chiropractor afterward," says Tatiana Sorokko, whose husband owns San Francisco's .
Shop a similar look: green vase ($15, ), roses ()
For a romantic fall table, candle lamps are a joy. "The height of the flame stays constant, and you can change the color of the shade to change the atmosphere," says .
Shop a similar look: yellow vase ($45, ), candle lamp ($9, )
Remember to relax and have a good time. "Plan everything, do everything, then let it go," says fashion designer .
Shop a similar look: gold tablecloth ($10, ), gold vases ($24, ), green glass vase ($15, )