With holidays on the horizon, entertaining at home is more the rule than the exception. But when it comes to feting family and friends these days, it's as if the old rules were made to be broken. As in fashion and design, setting the stylish table now reflects a growing eclecticism peppered with lots of personal style. No more matched sets of dishes. Informality reigns as china and even flatware--available in a host of colors, patterns and finishes--are mixed and matched at will. New tableware is often theme-related with many of the patterns reflecting nature and environmental concerns. Artist-designed dishes go one step further, challenging traditional shapes. Even the classic white ceramic plate has been transformed--it comes in an array of shapes and sizes and, when accented with gold, comfortably shares the same table with the finest porcelain.

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