Three experts share tips on how to craft a beautiful festive tablescape

Let the celebrations begin!

Harper's Bazaar India

From the world of aesthetic and visually stunning tablescapes, Bazaar India converses with the modern pioneers of the art and look for table setting inspiration and advices. Ranging from subtle adjustments to chic cutlery designs, the experts throw light on the basics of tablescaping. 

Founder of Tahir Sultan Food and Makaan Interiors and lifestyle expert


A post shared by Tahir Sultan (@tahirsultan)

Tahir Sultan, a man of myriad talents, shares with Bazaar India his vibrant approach to life, embracing its full spectrum. “I live well and when I invite people into my home, I am just extending an inherent part of who I am and the way I live.” His golden advice to all hosts is to go the extra mile to make sure the food is delicious. “A lot of people get caught up in the need to impress, and the dinner ends up being stiff and soulless.” To avoid this, he suggests prioritising engagement—the key to a successful gathering.

Incorporating your personal touch makes all the difference. “I love and hunt for unique pieces. I love to be surrounded by unusual and beautiful things which tell a story and make me happy,” he shares. Elaborating more on sustainability being a life choice, he says, “Everything one uses, from cling film to recycled takeaway containers, make a small difference. I try to do as much as I can, and I know I have influenced a lot of people to switch,” he adds. He loves being the purveyor of elegant eclectic style. “I don’t do trends. There is something to be said about white ceramic plates paired with white linen napkins and antique crystals. I don’t do any of that as my parties tend to become quite wild with my poor glassware and napkins taking the brunt of our good times.”

His ideal party would entail champagne in his pyjamas, on the couch, surrounded by orchids, candles, and a few friends with a small grazing table and delicacies. “India has some amazing artisanal cheeses, and has upped their gluten-free bread game. Those paired with condiments like an onion jam, a salted caramel dip, olives from our family trees at the beach house in Kuwait, homemade brandy, sage, and black pepper chicken liver pate, Mezze from Tahir Sultan Food and some dark chocolate make for a fabulous night,” he vouches. Tahir cannot care less about social media. “Some of the most beautiful settings I have created have never made it onto the Gram as everybody was too busy having a good time and no one took any photos.” Lastly, he shares, “My serveware usually ranges from unique organic looking antique bowls to an eclectic mix of pieces from Michael Aram.” 

Founder, Design Temple

Divya Thakur likes to combine global influences and Indian aesthetics. She imparts wisdom on how to approach table decor and the importance of a custom touch, which is what upgrades the event. “I think depending on how things are, you, as a host, need to navigate a little bit.

Sometimes you need to lead a conversation, sometimes you need to push somebody to take things forward. It is only about making genuine, authentic, joyous connections. Spontaneity and attentiveness towards your guests is critical.” She advises opening up a room if the space is crowded and having a more intimate, cosy set-up if there are fewer people. “You have to put the right kind of people together. When I say the right kind of people together, I don’t mean the same kind of people. You have to be very careful in selecting who is going to get along with who and bring something slightly different to the table.” Every city visited unfolds new possibilities for Divya. From the bustling artistic markets of Cochin to blue pottery in Jaipur, she explores and embraces the rich crafts of the place. “I love mixing all these things up. I like creating trends.” Divya prefers incorporating her creations from Design Temple into her table, showcasing an array of side plates, glasses and more. The concept of a grazing table has emerged as a trend that blends beauty and functionality. “Whether you’re having a small party or a big one, it’s a really useful thing. With the grazing table, you can actually dress the table and people can eat at their own convenience.” In the whirlwind of a busy life, posting on social media has become an afterthought for Divya. “I create moments that may be of interest to someone else but I am not in a rush to quickly post. I am more obsessed with creating the right mood, environment, food, and experience.”

Colour coordination plays a pivotal role in setting the tone of an evening, depending on the occasion. She works backward from the cuisine to the colour scheme to the decor, making sure there is visual harmony. Vintage pieces have a special place in her heart. “I have always loved what I had at my grandma’s home without understanding the beauty of the construction or design earlier,” she shares. As sustainability gains prominence, Divya uses traditional elements like banana leaves and durable porcelain or bone china. Her passion for designing extends from the smallest elements to the grandeur of exquisite table settings. After the last detail is in place, she shifts from being a planner to a carefree celebrator—to let loose and laugh is the key ingredient to hosting a memorable affair.

Chef and co-founder at Miam Pâtisserie


A post shared by Bani Nanda (@chefbani)

“I’m not a fan of overdone or busy tables. Beautifully laid tables also have to be functional,” says Bani Nanda, who is known for her exquisite tastes, as she imparts insights into her world of table styling. “My go-to brands are a healthy mix of Indian homegrown and European. I love Meghalaya black pottery from Larnai, it is one-of-a-kind. I buy pieces from Ikai Asai, The Sienna store in Kolkata— they recently made me a tureen with mushrooms as handles—and others like Villeroy & Boch.” she adds.

Preparation for her immersive dinners requires a minimum of three days, with a focus on deciding the dinner layout. “From the traditional weaves, pottery styles to metal work, I like to portray the back story of Indian states. For example, for my Bengali table, I draped a gorod sari and placed Sabai Grass table mats under each dish!” She talks about how she goes all out with props, taking cues from the safer colour palettes (powder gold/beige/brown spectrum) witnessed while growing up in her parents’ house. Instagram aesthetics take a backseat when it comes to her creativity. “I don’t let social media dictate my thought process. On the contrary, I simply post about the layouts that truly come from within my heart. It’s rawer and more appealing. I haven’t yet commercially explored my tablescapes at events. However, I do take up commercial assignments and work with homeware and decor brands!” Her current favourite trend is to use a lot of Le Creuset pots—from the stove directly to the table!

Reflecting on a poignant hosting moment, she recalls, “My father was very sick early this year and every time we would visit him in the ICU, I’d tell him to get okay soon and that a whole mutton raan was waiting for him. A few months later, I hosted a big dinner for him and cooked the softest raan. This was my most memorable hosting experience.” Sustainability is woven into her practices, repurposing packaging materials and advocating for meaningful, long-lasting pieces. Her collections, with pink and green hues, embody her unique style. In closing, Bani encourages hosts to enjoy their own parties, “Work beforehand and spend time with your guests! A lot of hosts are missing altogether and you’ll see them drowning in work in the kitchen. I have learnt how to work ahead and train my staff. I love relaxing and enjoying a few drinks when my guests come over. It’s a party for me too!”