How to dress your table for dinner with friends

Once you graduate from college, it’s probably also time for your hosting skills to evolve from chips and dip and plates hurriedly passed round. Plus some occasions warrant a little bit of extra effort. Laying the table for a sit-down dinner doesn’t have to be a daunting task, and with a few tweaks to the old formulas, you’ll end up with a table that is cool, modern, and thoroughly inviting.
We have a theory: to keep spirits high, lighting must be kept low. Think mood lighting, not moody. You want your guests to bask in the gentle glow of flickering candelight, not squint across the table from each other. Flowers are essential. Try vases and containers of different heights dotted down the length of the table, but remember to keep your floral centrepieces low; tall arrangements make it hard for guests to see each other. We love Rajnigandha, or tuberose, on our tables.

While a beautiful tablecloth is always wonderful, we think using a runner feels more relaxed. We used one made of natural jute fibre with a little pop of lime round its edges for texture and the merest whisper of colour. Layers of white on white are classic, and when you’re using cool stoneware, it feels fresh, not fusty. And it’s the little details that your guests will remember: a handwritten menu feels special, but can be pulled together in very little time.
Remember to put out one glass for wine and another for water, and don’t get hung up on matching these to your dinnerware. We think the best dinner parties happen over tables that aren’t too precious about the details.