Don't get us wrong: we love a unique, colorful, "I-bought-this-in-Spain" platter as much as anyone.  You should have one.  (Or ten.)  But when it comes to creating a beautiful tablescape without a lot of hassle, it helps to have a collection of pieces that coordinate flawlessly and can handle a wide variety of uses.  (As a hostess, your energy should be focused on your guests.  Not serveware.)  The key: solid pieces with classic lines.  A mix of porcelain, glass, metal, stone and wood.  If food is art, these are the canvases.  (And if it's not, these will at least make it look it's best.)


Everyone should have a wood salad bowl.  They're gorgeous to look at and have been in style forever.  This one is perfectly sized; its walls are tall enough to keep everything inside while mixing and serving.  We love its shape and character.

Tondo Serving Bowl, Crate & Barrel, $60


White doesn't have to be boring.  We love this freeform platter's antiqued edges and hand-glazed look.  Rectangular platters (William Sonoma's Open Kitchen collection are pretty and affordable) are a great option if you prefer cleaner lines.  A full platter is a beautiful platter, so keep a few sizes on-hand.

Marin White Oval Serving Platters, Crate & Barrel, $30+


If you have a multitude of items in smaller vessels, like jars or bottles, corral them on a tray and they'll look infinitely better.  Add a vase of flowers for some texture and color.  

Lawrence Serving Tray, Crate & Barrel, $80



To ensure your tablescape doesn't fall flat, add a little height and think outside the box!  Cake stands and tiered trays alike are perfect platter alternatives for everything from crudité to cheeses.  This marble pedestal bowl looks beautiful as a permanent countertop fixture, as well as a vessel for serving fresh cherries, clementines or berries in a breakfast spread.

French Kitchen Marble Fruit Bowl, Crate & Barrel, $45



We always keep a pitcher of water ready-to-go for guests, both at the dining table and bar with a few lemon slices (or cranberries at Christmas) for color.  While enticing for pre-mixed beverages in large quantities, we've found drink dispensers to be cumbersome and leaky.  Pick up a few of these lidded carafes (only $5 each!) instead.  Bonus: they fit in the fridge, so you can keep the rest of the batch chilled instead of watered down with ice.

Impressions Clear Pitcher, World Market, $15


Pile up this beautiful slate board with charcuterie... and cheese... and Marcona almonds... and marmalade... and rosemary crackers.  And we'll be right over.  

Available in three sizes.  

Slate Cheese Board, Crate & Barrel, $10+


It's helpful to have a few pieces that can go right from the oven to table.  We recommend having at least two bakers (more if your if your budget and space allows) on-hand.  We use a large one for casseroles and baked apples, the small is perfect for cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving.

Colette Rectangular Baker, Pottery Barn, $60



We love this woven-basket-alternative because you can clean it.  In the dishwasher, nonetheless.  Plus, this piece doubles as a beautiful serving piece for pasta and veggie dishes.  And you know how much we love multi-purpose goodies.

Available in three sizes.

Open Kitchen Handled Platter, Williams Sonoma, $20+



Whether you're serving up olives, nuts, toppings, condiments or dips, these mini bowls are just what you need.  We keep a set of eight on hand because everything looks more delicious in a properly-sized dish.

Also perfect for a single scoop of ice cream. Just sayin'.

Mercer 5" Mini Bowl, Crate & Barrel, Set of 8,  $30

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