Get the Look
For small groups, use interesting dinner plates in lieu of platters. Mixing patterns gives new life to your table -- not to mention solves the problem of incomplete sets.
Make a Simple Centerpiece
Group votive candles on a pretty plate, and set them off with flowers in any small vessel -- even a teacup.
Mix Old and New
Liven up modern dinnerware with bits of heirloom china and vintage colored glass.
Serve a pureed soup in glasses (no spoon required) in the living room, offer the main course at the table, and set out a simple, help-yourself dessert with coffee.
For a casual dinner, skip the tablecloth or place mats and lay cloth napkins under plates instead.