Treat this year's smaller guest list to a table that melds the old with the new.
Credit: Bryan Gardner

Whether your mom is with you in person this Mother's Day or on a laptop or iPad screen many miles away, celebrate her love and support for your family by setting a beautiful table for a real or virtual brunch. But don't just lay out any old dining set—make it meaningful. To do so, consider mixing and matching fine china, using both your mother's set (or even your grandmother's vintage pieces!) and your contemporary dishes in a way that gives your table a personal, one-of-a-kind feel. Since there's an art to mixing the two styles and creating a table that's both dynamic and functional, read on for tips on how to place everything just right.

Create a cohesive look.

"Mixing china from different generations is a beautiful way to honor a family," says Jason Mitchell Kahn, an event planner in New York, "but it's easiest to create a cohesive table if the individual pieces are consistent." To do so, alternate the pieces for each course—use Mom's china for the salad and dessert courses and yours for the appetizer and main courses—which also keeps it visually interesting for your guests.

Highlight the common thread.

 "It's best to find something unifying within the different collections, be it color or patterns that complement each other," adds Kahn. Let's say both patterns contain gold: You could set the table with a gold tablecloth and flatware, bronze candlesticks and holders, and a vase filled with gold garden roses or sunny day lilies.

Mix the crystal, too. 

If you were lucky enough to also inherit some of your family's crystal, go ahead and use it on Mother's Day. Mom's more elaborate vintage pattern will contrast nicely with your modern style. "You can even throw a colored crystal glass onto the table to complement the colors you are using," notes Kahn.

Pay attention to the little details. 

Tying off a simple white napkin with a modern ring in a colorway that matches the vintage pieces helps make all of these blended choices look intentional.

Turn the food into a unifier.

Kahn says another way to unify your tablescape is by maintaining consistency on the food front, too. Make sure all dishes—whether they are served on your pieces or your Mom's—are arranged in the same way; he suggests placing food on top of a colorful base, like dinosaur kale or lemon wheels for flair.


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