How to Set the Perfect Table

Delicious food and delightful company make for a wonderful dinner party, but a perfect dinner party is made complete by a perfectly set table.  The pieces you choose for your table set the tone for the evening.

 If it’s a Comfort Food type of night, with dishes like Mac and Cheese, Chicken Soup, and Grandma’s Meatloaf, and old friends and family, a casual table setting is most appropriate.  Try setting up the meal in the family room, rather than at the dining room table.  Serve the drinks in any and every glass you have available, and use paper napkins.  Encourage your guests to come over in their sweatpants, and turn on an old movie in the background.  The casual tone of the evening will make for easy, relaxed conversation.

However, a more sophisticated and elegant evening (an evening filled with dishes like Filet Mignon, Foie Gras, and Crepes Suzette…) calls for a different type of table.  If you’re hosting a finer meal, a more elaborate table setting will help execute that message.  For starters, set the meal up in the dining room.  For many people, the dining room is one of the least frequently used rooms in the house, so actually employing it means it must be an important occasion.  Think about the guests that you’ve invited over.  You’ll want to set up the table bearing in mind which guests will get along and carry on pleasant conversations with one another.  Once you’ve decided how to pair off your guests write their names on gilded place cards in holders to match your décor or you can use tented place cards and set up the table accordingly.  Cloth napkins, beautiful napkin rings, your finest china and thin taper candles will help effectively convey the idea of a refined and elegant evening.

Obviously, there are hundreds of other ways to set the perfect table, but these are just a few ideas to get you started! 

Etiquette is Everything: A Good Guest

There’s a fine line between the good guest and, well, the not-as-good guest.  The good guest is consistently invited to dinner parties, birthday celebrations, and weekends in the country.  The key to becoming a good guest is quite simple…A good guest:

“Arrives slightly late. And leaves on time.

A good guest brings energy and charm and a small present.

A dinner guest engages the person of his right and left.

A party guest mingles and meets everyone.

A house guest is self-sufficient, not needing constant entertainment.

All good guests write thank you notes.

Very good guests also call the next day.”

       –  Tiffany & Co.

About our Collaboration with Trina Turk: Inside the Collaboration Process

Almost a year ago we started speaking to the folks at Trina Turk. We had just completed a collaboration with Schumacher and we were thinking about fabrics.  We loved the Trina colors and patterns.  We thought it would be great fun to work on something new and exciting with her. She is as upbeat and creative as her designs. 

We started conversations at the end of 2010 but we each were busy with our own projects and tending to our own crises.  Finally late last spring we were able to get together and brainstorm on what would make an engaging collection and reflect the aesthetic of both of our brands.  We looked at many different fabrics, several different engraving dies, and lots of papers and edge treatments.  Trina’s favorites were her Ogee and Coachella fabrics – so we went with those as the foundation of the collection.

The diamond shape nestled in between the brightly colored rectangles of the Ogee design was our inspiration for the engraving die we used on top of the cards in this collection. The curves of the Ogee pattern are further reflected in the rounded corners of these cards and the painted edges draw even more attention to this shape. 

For the Coachella, the waves and the color are the story. We matched her patterns to our own Orange and Cerise borders to create an eye-catching set of cards.


A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these cards benefits PS Arts, one of Trina’s favorite charities.  It is a non-profit organization committed to improving children’s lives through arts education. We love working with Trina and we are really excited about this collaboration.  Take a look!

View the Trina Turk Collection

Introducing Eighteen-Seventy-Eight

Fall is in full swing here at Dempsey & Carroll!  Lexington Avenue is buzzing with people walking up and down the street, enjoying the crisp fall air, and popping into the shop for a quick hello.  We’re excited about the fabulous new fashion trends we’ve already spotted around town and the new line-up of shops joining us on the Upper East Side. 

Our 2011 Holiday Collection is on the shelves and people have already started to pick up their cards for the holiday season!  We’re putting the finishing touches on some exciting new gifts, which will be out in the shop in the next few weeks.  They’re really adorable – we can’t wait to hear what you think!

We decided to launch a blog to keep you in the loop!  We can’t wait to share our thoughts on fashion, paper, dining and more with you here at Eighteen-Seventy-Eight.