Homeira Goldstein's elegant soirees and tabletop settings -- a mix of high and low, real and fake -- are legend in the South Bay. "There are no rules for setting a table," she says. "The most important thing is to just be creative." A few of her tips for artful dining:
"I believe in place settings. A large charger is like the red carpet at the Academy Awards. It's an announcement of something good that's going to happen. One of my favorites is an 18 1/2 -inch stainless steel charger covered with black velvet. It's very dramatic."
"The whole idea of a dinner is bringing people together," she says. A beautiful, low centerpiece is best, so you can look into the eyes of other guests, she says. "Or go for one that's very tall and narrow that doesn't interfere with your line of vision."
"I always use candles on a table to set the mood. A centerpiece of just candles is always lovely -- the more the better."
"Feel free to mix and match. Just make sure the dishes visually complement each other. Also select plates in different sizes, shapes and textures. It makes for a more exciting table."
"Add a decorative element to your napkin," she says. And don't think you have to use a conventional napkin ring. "You can top a napkin with a fresh leaf or flower from your garden or add a silk flower." Fold and roll a napkin and have it coming out of a pretty chiffon gift bag. "It doesn't have to be expensive. There's no end to what you can do."