Erin Souder: I love using pretty trivets. If you’re serving a family-style dinner and dishes are being passed around, people often have trouble balancing the dish and serving. Keep pretty towels, trivets and good serving ware handy. For big families, divide the food into separate dishes for each side of the table. And don’t forget the flowers! A pretty centerpiece shows that you thought about them.
ES: Investing in good and versatile serving ware is a must. I stick with classic white, which can be used for any time of the year and dressed up with smaller themed or patterned pieces. Every hostess should have a couple of large bowls and platters.
ES: A space where the family is comfortable and can sit for a long period of time and chat.
ES: I like to make an extension to the main table for the children so they feel included and parents can also keep an eye on them. Put some sort of craft on the table. Wrapping napkins in pipe cleaners that can be played with during the meal, or covering the table in paper for drawing, will keep them entertained.
ES: I love shopping at HomeGoods for decor that is season or holiday specific. I don't feel so bad spending only $1.99 on each salad plate or for a really fun vase when I have my high-quality white serving set to balance it out. The Container Store is also one of my favorite places to buy fun accessories. Also, don't overlook the dollar store!
ES: Invest in white basics. You can always switch out napkins, salad plates and accessories when everything else is neutral. Using metallic colors counts as a neutral! For Christmas I use silver and gold, which can be brought back in spring for a pretty brunch or paired with black for a superchic event.
ES: I think not getting everyone involved is a mistake. There are certain situations, like at a dinner party, when you'll want to have the table done before guests arrive. But when it comes to family meals, feel free to get interactive. See who makes the best napkin art or let your little one pick flowers from the yard for the centerpiece. I don’t think there are too many big mistakes that can be made — aside from not giving people enough elbow room! Make sure each setting has at least 18 inches.
ES: I love the communal trend in dining and think that bringing this idea to the family meal is so fun. Pizza building, tapas grazing or anything that keeps you at the table and the conversation flowing.
Visit Erin's blog, House of Earnest, for more beautiful event styling inspiration.
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