We recently spent the afternoon with Rue Magazine‘s co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Crystal Gentilello in her charming San Francisco home. The newly engaged design guru graciously shared some of her entertaining expertise, providing practical advice for creating an easy yet elegant tablescape at home. Whether you want to celebrate a special occasion—or desire an excuse to host a lively gathering just because—these helpful hints will ensure a tablescape that exudes sophistication and elegance. Most importantly, they’ll allow for what Crystal (and the Glitter Guide team!) believes to be at the very heart of entertaining: the making of precious memories with people you cherish the most.
Photography & Videography: Michelle Drewes
Makeup & Hair: Makeup Dolls
Tell us about the tablescape you created.
I believe that entertaining should be personal—and having just gotten engaged, I wanted to create a romantic dinner for two with my new fiancé. This was my way of thanking him for the very special proposal he planned for me and celebrating this exciting time for both of us. I contacted my entertaining guru and Rue lifestyle columnist, Kelley Moore of Joyous. Together we came up with a tablescape that worked well with my dining room color palette and reflected my personal aesthetic: understated elegance.
What is your entertaining philosophy?
People often feel overwhelmed by the idea of entertaining. It’s natural to worry about things like planning your menu (“Will they like it?“), opening up your home (“Will they think it’s well decorated?“), or juggling various moving parts (“Will I come off as a consummate hostess?“). But it’s important to remember what entertaining is truly about: gathering loved ones, creating memories together, and showing them that you care. So if the turkey burns, or your home isn’t decorated, or you break a sweat, just grab a tall glass of champagne, laugh it off, and remember that it’s about people—not stuff.
Knowing that interior design & décor is your passion in life, we imagine you always have an impeccable tablescape and dining area! What does your “everyday” dining tablescape consist of?
I’m a huge fan of white ceramic dinnerware for everyday dining. With white, the colors of your meal really stand out and steal the show. Health Ceramics, Canvas, Crate & Barrel, and Ikea all have fantastic white dinnerware collections that I love.
What are a few tips for creating a romantic dining experience at home?
Think about creating a cozy ambiance by appealing to all five of the senses: sight (a beautiful color palette for your tabletop), sound (soft background music by a musician you both love), touch (irresistibly soft napkin fabrics or plush seat cushions), scent (fresh flowers or your favorite fragrance), and taste (food and drink that warm your soul). But my number one go-to trick? Candles! They instantly set a romantic mood.
Crystal cut this cute card from Crane & Co to create sweet place cards for a newly engaged couple. Such a clever idea!
Suggestions and philosophy on seating cards?
When I entertain, I always think about seating arrangements ahead of time so there’s no guessing or confusion when guests get to the table. I place couples next to each other and alternate boys with girls if it’s a mixed group. Seating cards are a fun way to bring personalization to the table, and they make your guests feel extra loved by showing them that you’ve been looking forward to their arrival!
What are your 5 entertaining essentials?
Great company, enough wine, a big smile, a favorite recipe, and a good sense of humor.
What are your tips for incorporating fresh flowers into a dining space?
When selecting florals for the table, the most important thing for me is color. Choose something that either accents your tablescape palette or blends into it. You also don’t want your arrangements to be so high that guests can’t see each other from across the table! Lastly, it’s best to avoid overly fragrant flowers—like lilies, for example—because they can compete with the scent of your meal.
Get the look:
Placemats: Kitchen Papers
Flowers: White Dahlias
Vases: Crate and Barrel Nima Vase (similar)
Plates: Cake Vintage
Votives: West Elm Gold Mercury Candleholders (similar)
Ms. Taken Card / by Mr. Right Cards: Crane & Co.