Idea Lab


Raid the attic and haunt the vintage shops: That’s what film and TV folks do when they want a set to look luscious but real. Our imaginative entertaining pros go through a similar exercise by throwing Old School rules out the window, using what’s at hand, and letting serendipity be their guide.

Edible décor does double duty

  • Lidia Bastianich

    We decorate our tree with edible ornaments like beautiful foil wrapped candies and small fruits like clementines. Italian baci also work beautifully either on the tree or as a nugget of chocolate and hazelnut to finish a meal or have with coffee or a splash of Nonino grappa.

  • Pamela Thomas

    I grew up in a rural Alaskan village where fresh fruits and vegetables were nearly nonexistent, so to this day I marvel at the beauty of the produce aisle. It’s also where I turn for what I think is the loveliest holiday décor. I like to dress tables with big bowls of lemons, kumquats, or apples, providing pops of color and great shapes. A voluminous mass of grapes, though simple, can be incredibly beautiful, as can pomegranates or figs. I often intersperse very small bouquets of fresh herbs, like rosemary, cilantro and mint, on a table. Not only are the contrasting greens a complement to nearly anything else around them, but they also offer terrific aromatics. The key is simplicity: artichokes, grouped together, or Brussels sprouts on the stalk are every bit as structurally and texturally beautiful as your favorite flower, and you can enjoy them after the party.

The serenity of candlelight, properly placed by a master of design

  • Tony Chi

    I serve serene serendipity at my table with a feast of light. Holiday dining and cooking up lasting memories are always best enjoyed amongst family and friends, large gatherings of eighteen or more. We sit at a full linear table in the glow of candles. Our candles are mid level, tall but not too tall, just high enough to float above our meal. Guests only see the warm candlelight, and not the full table beneath. Just picture how the soft light sparkles on the wine glasses, perfect to go with our vino! Candles combine elegant aesthetic and practical function!