Pour la maison: Sur la table

It’s one of the first chores we’re taught as children. Dutifully filling ice water glasses or carefully creasing napkins is a rite of passage in many Southern households. Although our daily dining habits may not call for Downton Abbey-level servingware, there’s nothing like the holiday season to give us a renewed sense of appreciation for an elegantly set table.

Sarah James Moss, an Acadiana-based interior designer and founder of Moss Manor: A Design House, says the key to a well-executed table setting is making your guests feel special.

“Showing them: I thought of you. I invited you. I planned for you. I’m glad you’re here,” she explains.

According to Moss, you should start by considering what kind of vibe you’re going for: Is your dinner more formal, or is it a casual affair? This will determine what kind of linens, plates and flatware you’ll want to use. Proper planning can help you avoid a faux pas, such as setting out China your guests don’t need.

Moss says a contemporary table setting doesn’t necessarily need to check off all the boxes to feel special. For example, she says it’s “totally cool” to opt out of placemats or tablecloths.

You can coordinate glasses and flatware for a more monochromatic look, or use them as an opportunity to add a pop of color. Moss says a couple of trends she’s loving for the holidays are mix-and-match vintage pieces and gold flatware. When all else fails, go for classic white dishes, which can easily be dressed up with accent plates.

Fresh flowers and candles can make even the simplest setting feel festive. But Moss’s favorite way to add a wow factor on a budget, is to incorporate seasonal, natural elements.

“Use something unusual — raw wood blocks, foliage, a large banana leaf or olive branches,” encourages Moss.

Pinecones and berries are perfect for a winter table. Just make sure your décor doesn’t impair someone’s vision across the table. Keep your centerpieces low and long, advises Moss.

Finally, Moss says she likes to leave “a little sussy” at each place. Whether that’s a place card with an inspirational message, tiny gift or piece of chocolate, the simple favor will make your dinner guests feel like royalty.


Award-winning designer and New Iberia native, Sarah James Moss, has designed interior spaces for clients across Acadiana and New Orleans. In 2016, Moss teamed up with HGTV’s Property Brothers for four episodes of “Brothers Take New Orleans.” She is the founder and principal designer of Moss Manor: A Design House, an online boutique specializing in modern furnishings and home décor. (mossmanor.com. 1-888-996-1986)


Digital Sponsors

Become a MyNewOrleans.com sponsor ...

Sign up for our FREE

New Orleans Magazine email newsletter

Get the the best in New Orleans dining, shopping, events and more delivered to your inbox.