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Home & Garden

You Can Set a Better Table

Dallas socialites have long set the standard for style. Now they’re showing how to set a stunning table.
| |Photography by John Cain
Jessica Nowitzki
John Cain

Co-authors Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Shelley Johnstone Paschke bring a powerhouse skill set to their collaboration for A Loving Table: Creating Memorable Gatherings, a 300-plus-page coffee-table book that reveals the style secrets of entertaining women. Whitman is a Dallas-based author, entrepreneur, and style mogul; Paschke is a celebrated interior designer based in Lake Forest, Illinois. Together, they highlight 34 home gatherings, each hosted by a different woman with her own inspirations, philosophies, traditions, and decor. Some featured celebrations are specifically seasonal, such as a Thanksgiving luncheon or Mardi Gras brunch, while others could be appropriate for any time of year.

One of the most recognizable local contributors is Jessica Nowitzki, president of the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and wife of the Mavericks icon. A good friend of Whitman’s, she comes from a big family with a tradition of huge gatherings. She spent much of her childhood in her mother’s home country of Kenya, where the cultural expectation was that people would just drop in when they were in the neighborhood. 

“Everybody gathers around the dinner table, and we talk about the day. My mother was very big on that,” Nowitzki says. “It was always kind of a given that I would do the same thing. She always hosted. She kept a ton of food in the pantry. She was just always ready. I’m trying to instill that in my children as well.” 

a loving table

A Loving Table: Creating Memorable Gatherings

By Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, Shelley Johnstone Paschke, Mark D. Sikes

$55 at Interabang Books

A Loving Table, she feels, exemplifies what people should strive for in this troubling and isolating climate: having an open door and practicing gratitude. “For those who have more than others, it’s time to give more,” she says. “Not to get political, but in Europe, there are people opening their homes to displaced Ukrainians, giving to folks who have nothing.” Generosity, she feels, should underscore all social entertaining.

Though the Nowitzki table is heavily influenced by the cultures that Jessica and Dirk grew up with, she also credits her current hometown with elevating her entertaining style. 

“People’s tastes in Dallas are very refined, which I love, and I’ve learned a lot from it,” she says. “People in this town have really influenced my tastes.”

Nowitzki isn’t the only noteworthy Dallas contributor. Cristina Lynch is the founder of Mi Golondrina, a store that sells clothes made by Mexican artisans. Her Mexican-influenced Christmas celebrations include a door-to-door Las Posadas followed by a buffet and a more intimate family gathering on Christmas Day. Korean American interior designer Sharon Lee, founder of Krane Home and a recent Dallas transplant, incorporates luxury textiles into her University Park home decor. Jamie O’Banion, Cathy Kincaid, Jan Showers, and Lisa Fine also represent North Texas with their tables. 

A Loving Table is not intended as a template that you must imitate to be a successful host. Instead, it’s a peek into the way other families have harnessed their passions and traditions to cultivate welcoming spaces in their homes—and an invitation to do the same in yours. 

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