Set out a plate of marinated olives for an elegant, time-saving hors d’oeuvre. Toss the olives and seasonings ahead of time and serve at room temperature so you can relax and visit with guests as they arrive. Just remember to place a small bowl or ramekin alongside the olives for pits.
Gain inspiration for your décor from the dishes you’re serving. If you’re passing stuffed figs as an hors d’oeuvre or chopping them in a salad, cut a few fig leaves to include in your centerpiece. Similarly, tuck sage leaves in between napkins and their rings for a hint of green.
Instead of flowers, make seasonal produce the center of attention. Fill a bowl with colorful fruits like persimmons and pomegranates, or place white and pale orange pumpkins on the buffet.
Get creative when displaying ordinary items like salt and pepper. A simple walnut shell can hold both, adding a special touch to the table. For an elegant occasion, cut a slit lengthwise in a wine cork and tuck in printed menus to place at each seat.
A cheese plate is a welcome addition to any dinner after main courses are cleared. Assemble them ahead of time and refrigerate, then allow them to come to room temperature before the end of the meal. Figs, honeycomb and walnuts bring seasonal notes to soft blue and nutty Parmesan cheeses.