How to Set a Swoon-Worthy Holiday Table

The Savory Grape's Jessica Granatiero helps us set three distinct scenes for your guests.


Photography by Angel Tucker

Tipples and Trends

The past three to five years have marked proliferating interest in craft beers and other spirits. Wine tastings have long been the dinner party standard, and while still popular, Granatiero says grapes are increasingly swapped for grains. “We’re seeing a movement toward alternative spirit tastings, such as bourbon and whiskey,” she says. “It’s something different and slightly more male-centric.” Take the concept full circle by substituting ho-hum place cards with engraved pints of the evening’s choice spirit. The bottles can either be incorporated into the evening’s tasting or can serve as takeaways to commemorate the gathering.

Elevate a standard cocktail party by tailoring your beverage selections around a central theme. “We recently helped a client select California wines that she served with similar varietals from France,” says Granatiero. “The evening was lively with guests tasting through all of them and debating which was better.” If “local” is your preferred theme, you’re in luck: “This area, not just Rhode Island but New England as a whole, is a hotbed for local spirits and beers,” she says.

Expand your DIY horizons. “Because tending bar is typically the last thing you have time to do when hosting a dinner party, set out a fully stocked bar cart or counter, and dress it up with festive holiday accessories,” Granatiero says. Load the DIY beverage station with the necessities — a jigger, shaker, strainer, bottle opener, corkscrew, chilled whiskey stones and ice bucket with tongs — and enjoy the role of mingling host rather than bartender. Include cocktail napkins with cheeky phrases and wine glass charms for whimsy. Engraved glasses or an elegant decanter will add the just-right finishing touch.

Reimagine the dinner at your dinner party. “We’re not seeing these big gargantuan dinners anymore,” says Granatiero. “Instead of a salad, a big appetizer and a big meal, hosts are serving small bites, more like tasting food.”

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