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A Dallas Host’s Guide to Stunning Table Settings

From Kimberly Schlegel Whitman's favorite planning tips to the best spots for chargers, here's everything you need to know to stage a gorgeous party spread.
Elizabeth Lavin

Last year, lifestyle author and entertaining authority Kimberly Schlegel Whitman shared how some of Dallas’s biggest names set their tables for a party. Now, she’s gearing up for the holidays with the launch of online tabletop shop Trunk Curated. Not only does Whitman offer everything you’d need to outfit your gathering, she also mixes and matches brands to create inspiration collections. She shares her tips for designing a memorable and out-of-the-ordinary tablescape. —Lydia Brooks


Planning Your Tablescape

  • Contemplate Your Centerpieces
  • Layering is Everything
  • In with the New
  • Preparation is Key

Whitman suggests using decor you may have around the house—vintage pushpin ornaments, glass trees, or oranges with cloves. Fill the gaps with candles and flowers in small bud vases. But remember: “Candles are only meant for meals that happen after dark. Candles on a lunch table are a big no-no!”

Layering plates with complementary shades and patterns adds color and dimension, as does incorporating textiles like tablecloths, place mats, and napkins. Hint: Dinnerware should always be based on what you are serving (i.e., if you’re not planning to serve a salad, don’t lay salad plates on the table).

Whitman loves finding new and unusual pieces to create a unique tablescape. She cites crescent salad plates, which, she notes, are “designed to tuck right into” the dinner plate. She also loves setting up each guest with their own salt and pepper shakers. “It saves the whole ‘pass the salt’ disruption,” she says.

“I want my guests to feel loved and welcomed by the time and energy I am putting into their visit,” she says. “I think that is the key to having fun while you have guests.” And remember: When it comes to entertaining, practice makes perfect. “Making memories around a table is totally worth it!”

Sourcing Your Settings

  1. Estelle Decanter, ($160/Ivy House)
  2. Estelle Low Balls, ($225 for 6/Ivy House)
  3. Mottahedeh “Rose” Tureen, ($620/Madison)
  4. Coupes, ($55 for 4/Talulah & Hess)
  5. Baccarat “Harcourt My Fire” Candlestick, ($1,300/Ivy House)
  6. Swarovski “Signum” Vase ($225/Madison)
  7. Fenwick Fields Napkin, ($56 for 2/Ivy House)
  8. Southern Tribute Napkin Ring, ($498 for 4/Ivy House)
  9. Haviland  “Oasis “ China, (from $260/Ivy House)
  10. Herend Christmas Plate, ($595/Ivy House)

When you’re an expert at mixing Pantones, patinas, and patterns, the holidays are the right time to grace the table with your gifts. Gather your carefully curated collection of linens, silver, and crystal, and then head to The Ivy House on a quest for new classics. The Snider Plaza stalwart has been serving up servingware to discerning Dallas hosts and hostesses for more than 50 years. Today, the store remains positively packed with items from more than 100 premium brands—and the staff is happy to help you find treasures to perfect your place settings, including dainty Juliska goblets, modern Jan Barboglio vessels, traditional Raynaud chargers, regal red-wine glasses by Baccarat, and so much more. Make your selects, and you’ll be on your mark and ready to get set. —Laura Kostelny

More favorite stops for chargers, china, and serveware galore

Ellis Hill

5029 W. Lovers Ln. 

Shop preppy plates, cute cups, and, of course, luxe linens, which you can have personalized.

Talulah & Hess

5810 Live Oak St.

This Lakewood gift shop specializes in colorful glassware, vases, and bowls worthy of being special-occasion centerpieces.

Blue Print

2707 Fairmount St.

Their vast selection—which goes down to the details, like place- card holders and salt-and-pepper sets—is only outshined by their service.


72 Highland Park Village

Score crystal, barware, and tabletop items from high-end lines like Baccarat, William Yeoward, and Herend. —Jessica Otte


Get the Full Table Service

Prefer to delegate all things decor? Blue Print has a team wholly dedicated to creating the feeling of a collected-over-time table on the spot. Simply set up an in-store consultation to peruse their impressive selection of tabletop pieces and to share any family heirlooms that deserve a place of honor. “We love mixing colors and patterns, and if you have silver flatware that was passed down to you, the holidays are the perfect time to use it,” says marketing director Kate Iwanski. Clients with a particularly full plate don’t even have to set their own table—the Blue Print dream team will pop by to arrange everything from chargers and champagne flutes to forks and fresh flowers. —L.K.


Lydia Brooks

Lydia Brooks

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Laura Kostelny

Laura Kostelny

Jessica Otte

Jessica Otte

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Jessica Otte is the executive editor of D Home and D Weddings. In 2006, she helped launch D CEO as…

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