One way to take the stress out of entertaining is to get your tabletop essentials in order.
Getting together the essentials for modern entertaining is similar to building a minimalist wardrobe. Look for simple, classic designs that will be in style for years to come, and then opt for solid colors in a neutral palette so it’s easy to mix and match.
Even though we prefer intimate gatherings of four to six people, we keep enough on hand for ten. Any dinner party larger than that and we bust out the paper goods.
Here is a list of our minimalist tabletop essentials:
• White Dinnerware Set: Food looks best on classic, white dinnerware. Since I love matching sets, I got a little carried away and purchased everything in the Verge dinnerware set from Crate & Barrel. You can totally make do with just the salad plate, dinner plate, and bowl.
• Modern 5-Piece Silverware: Simple flatware like this one from CB2 is perfect for everyday dining and entertaining. We usually set the table with the smaller forks and spoons, and then utilize the larger utensils as serveware.
• Small Ramekins: These small dishes are the perfect size for a couple scoops of ice cream or desserts like crème brûlée and panna cotta. We also use them to serve snacks and appetizers.
• Bottle Opener: Everyone talks up waiter corkscrews, but I prefer twist corkscrews like the one pictured above.
• Wine Glasses: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need different wine glasses for different types of wine. These all-purpose wine glasses are a great shape and high quality for the price.
• Champagne Flutes: Whenever we are celebrating something special, we bust out the champagne. Our current set was purchased at Pier One Imports, but these modern flutes from CB2 are similar.
• Water Glasses: Marta glasses from CB2 come in all colors and sizes, but my faves are the 13-ounce clear glasses. This size also work well for cocktails.
• Water Pitcher: Grab this Ikea water pitcher on the cheap and ditch the cork top for a more delicate look. The pitcher can also double as a vase.
• Linen Tablecloth: We bought our linen tablecloth at Target but you can find one at virtually any store that sells home goods. Go un-ironed for a more laidback look.
• Black Paper Cocktail Napkins: We always have these on hand for our apéritif (aka French happy hour).
• Circular Placemats: I find it easier to set the table with circular placemats because rectangular and square-shaped placemats test my OCD (so tough to line things up perfectly!). Crate and Barrel has tons of options as does Target and Ikea.
• Vases: Keep a variety of vases around in a few different shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a simple glass cylinder or a vintage-inspired pitcher. Remember, you can also get creative with vases and simply stash flowers in cups, glass jars, or a modern toothbrush holder like this one.
Full disclosure: This isn’t everything we own! We also have a yellow dinnerware set from the 60s, black and white enamelware, the most beautiful Fortuna Smoke crystalware, and a few other things.
Since entertaining is a passion, I can’t resist snatching up serveware or another set of napkins. People also gift us dinner party-worthy items because they know we’ll use them.
Excuses aside, everything in the list above is what we use on the regular basis and would be a great foundation for the modern hostess.