Simply Elegant Dinner Party

Having guests over for a dinner party doesn't mean complicated decorating schemes or difficult foods to prepare. Take the less-is-more approach when planning your next gathering.

Set the Table

The table should be a feast for the eyes with lots of interest to gently stir your guests with anticipation for delicious food. Pull out your finest serving pieces to up the feeling of elegance, and use a beautiful fabric as a tablecloth. For this party, a navy blue microsuede sets a rich and dramatic backdrop for the table. An added bonus: Microsuede cleans easily.

Elegant Menu Cards

A menu card is a fun way to engage guests. Perch it in a place-card holder on the table so guests can savor the courses ahead.

No-Fuss Centerpiece

To create a pretty yet simple centerpiece, place square dinner plates down the center of the table. Arrange a mixture of mercury glass and milk-glass votive holders filled with flowers on each plate. For added sparkle, add a piece of vintage jewelry to each plate.

Customized Candleholders

Glass cylinders wrapped in lacy scrapbook paper make engaging candleholders and cast pretty shadows about the tabletop. To customize glass cylinders, measure the height and circumference and cut decorative paper to the measurements. Wrap the paper around the glass and secure with double-stick tape.

Colorful Place Cards

Bright little frames add a hint of color to a pretty place setting. Transform store-bought frames into eye-catching place cards by painting them an unexpected color. Slide a piece of paper with each guest's initial into the frame; either print out the letter with a computer or use sticker letters.

Bejeweled Napkin Rings

Elegance is in the details: Vintage jewelry dresses up napkin rings. Wrap plain white napkin rings with decorative paper or ribbon, securing with tape. Attach a piece of jewelry with a dot or two of hot glue. Look for inexpensive jewelry pieces at tag sales or vintage stores.

Strawberry Almond Salad

A fresh salad can be quickly assembled with prewashed micro-greens, pre-toasted almonds and fresh strawberries. Use a pretty floral patterned bowl to pass the salad at the table.

Parmesan Cheese Bread

Crispy Parmesan bread is simply sliced and topped with a cheesy spread made with items found in your refrigerator. Pull out dishes that coordinate with your theme, like the vintage blue and white plates used for this navy tablescape.

Shrimp Fettuccine

A pasta dish with shrimp cooks quickly and is easy to make. Serve the main course on a large white platter, which contrasts well with the dark tablecloth.

Affogato

Keep dessert simple but unexpected with an Italian tradition of espresso and ice cream topped with chocolate sauce, served with crispy store-bought biscotti.

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