1. A gallery of elegant table-topping ideas to enhance any occasion. Fill tiny tin cups with fresh-cut blooms and place at each setting for sweet-smelling ambience.
2. Start with a design theme (like cozy and rustic, complete with “log cabin”), then follow it through with all the elements―including napkins, centerpieces, and tablecloth.
3. Don’t be afraid to mix patterns for texture and interest, like this happy blend of stripes and florals.
4. Natural elements can be surprising additions, whether as centerpieces or tucked into a pretty ribbon fastening the silverware.
5. A whiteboard makes a clever charger-slash–place card―not to mention the perfect receptacle for dinnertime doodling.
6. Look to the craft store for inexpensive decorating materials, like red felt rectangles used as place mats, and matching lengths of ribbon.
7. Scatter votive candles about the table to set the mood simply.
8. For an eye-catching place setting, rest a bold colored napkin in between stacked white dinner and salad plates.
9. Even a casual setting can have a hint of drama, here supplied by geometric-patterned salad plates.
10. Refreshingly different place cards for summertime entertainment: personalized flags anchored in zesty limes.
11. Awning-striped “menus” add a bright, summery note.
12. Plastic place card holders are a good low-cost investment for future parties.
13.Cut chalkboard paper into place mat–size pieces―and be sure to provide each guest with chalk.
14. Ideal for windy outdoor dining, printed rubber bands prettily secure napkins and silverware to plates.
15. Sum up the evening for your guests in fun and imaginative make-your-own place mats.
16. Make place cards that are favors too, like this one using an inexpensive seed packet.
17. Even on its own, a splashy place mat creates an interesting setting.
18. A generously sized place mat in a graphic pattern serves up visual interest in a minimal arrangement.
19. Surprise guests with small treats that act as both placeholders and favors.
20. For a little French-bistro flair, turn a colorful dish towel into a shared place mat.
21. A properly set table has an array of glasses―one for water, one for white wine, one for red.
22. Use stamps to mark card stock with pretty designs for an instant place card solution.
23. Simple variations on a color are an easy way to pull together a table.
24. A combination of florals―a pretty quilt repurposed as a tablecloth; dinnerware; and straight-from-the-garden blooms―turn an outdoor dinner party into a lush.