Anyone familiar with playing hostess knows that organizing a dinner party can be a bit overwhelming. To help you tackle that stress, we turned to an entertaining expert. As founder of Table + Teaspoon — which is basically Rent the Runway for your tablescape — Liz Curtis knows a thing or two about parties. Below, she shares her best hostess hacks, trends, and even her favorite ice breaker.

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Brit + Co: What are some tips for making your tablescape really pop?


Liz Curtis: First you must choose a theme. Employing a theme for your dinner party can be as straightforward as a color palette. You may want to up the ante with more specific schemes, but make sure that you don’t go so over the top that guests feel crowded or your table looks forced. For example, just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that you’re required to put pumpkins and corn cobs all over an orange tablecloth – an elegant mix of tans and browns with fresh greenery can be just as effective. Think outside the box, simplify your vision, and don’t forget to use variations of the colors you choose to bring depth to your table.

Another essential is linens. The foundation of your table is the textiles you choose for your runner or tablecloth and napkins. Everything you set on your table will go over the cloth, and the napkin will be in your guests’ hands the entire evening. Resist the temptation to go with basic white linens or paper napkins. If it’s not in the budget to purchase new linens, rental companies (like La Tavola throughout California) offer affordable options that you won’t have to dry clean after the party.

One thing that most hosts forget to consider when styling their tablescape is scale. Guests eat with their eyes as much as their mouths, so you want to give them something to take in by staggering the heights of objects on the table. Candles are the easiest way to vary height, because you can use both votives and taper candlesticks to create flickering light from a couple inches to a couple feet off the table. Candles are easier than flowers to employ in achieving this look because guests can easily see around them. Rather than plain glass votives, you can use small vintage cups or julep glasses for richness.

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B + C: What are some budget-friendly hacks for styling a chic dinner party?

LC: First, incorporate existing decor. Anyone can create a gorgeous table with the standard settings and a beautiful floral arrangement. But why not challenge yourself to make something festive, elegant, and slightly unexpected? The best way to do this is to look around your house for objects that you love and use them as centerpieces on your table. Sliced agate, bronze stars, boxwood topiaries — whatever you decorate your home with can double as tablescape fodder. The best part of using this method is that your table reflects your personality, which your guests will instantly recognize and appreciate.

Second, arrange your own flowers using tape. Yes, tape! Keep in mind that you can still knock your table out of the park without complex flower arrangements. BUT, if you are going to create your own masterpiece scotch tape is your new BFF. First, take the vase or bowl you plan to use and make a grid with scotch tape. For smaller vessels do an X with two pieces. For larger ones, make a hashtag # shape with four pieces. This allows you to place flowers evenly without using complicated florist foam.

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B + C: What are the biggest party trends taking over 2017?

LC: 1. Banana Leaf: Banana leaf became popular via the “Martinique” wallpaper at the Beverly Hills Hotel in the 1960’s, and then reemerged a year ago on everything from tabletops to throw pillows. The trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – rather, designers are upping the ante by mixing the print with metallics and other patterns like the classic cabana stripe.

2. Rose Gold: Rose gold for flatware, candle holders, and chargers is the new new. The beauty of rose gold is that it plays perfectly with the copper trend of last year. For example, Moscow Mule cups quickly blend in with the blush-hued metal, meaning you can incorporate existing pieces with a few new ones.

3. Potted Trees and Plants: The latest in wedding decor is to achieve height on the table by replacing floral centerpieces with potted trees (literally, like four-foot tall trees directly on the table). Young citrus and dwarf trees work well for this bold elegant look. To translate this element to home entertaining, use plants in varying heights under one-foot so that they won’t have to be removed during dinner. The beauty of this trend is that the plants and trees can be planted after the party rather than thrown away, which both reduces waste and creates a permanent memory of your event.

For more hostess with the mostest tips and tricks check out our pinboards @Britandco!

(Photos via Table + Teaspoon)