I ran across these tips for setting a great holiday table and thought I would pass them along.

We all want our holiday parties to be perfect. We plan a wonderful menu and cook and clean for days in advance. But many people spend all their time and energy on the food, and neglect the other important aspects of a party. Table décor and room arrangement are just as important as good food to the success of a gathering.

Unfortunately, most hosts don’t think about these things until the last minute, and often just throw something together. Here are some ideas for creating a functional and attractive environment for your party, with some help from the experts at FoodTV.com.

The best way to avoid stress is to put together a plan in advance. Think about where your guests will sit. Don’t try to cram too many people around a small dining room table. If necessary, add another table and cover them both with one long cloth. The point of a party is to provide a fun opportunity to socialize and that won’t happen if guests are squeezed uncomfortably together. If your chairs won’t fit, try using a bench on one side of your table.

Another way to make more space is to place all the food on a buffet table. Set up one room as the buffet area, and once guests have been seated, move a few dishes to the table so people don’t have to get up for seconds. You can also set up a separate dessert table in advance, so you don’t have to worry about it after dinner. Don’t forget your serving pieces, make sure they are clean and ready to go. Nothing is worse then having your food ready and running around looking for the serving pieces.

Setting a festive holiday table begins with the right china. Use grandma’s bone china or your collection of miss matched treasures. Add some edibles as table arrangements such as apples, cinnamon sticks, pears, gourds and even dried corn. Another idea is to fill interesting jars or containers with flowers, cranberries or dried fruit. Throw in some candles arranged among little heaps of apples and nuts. Scented candles you be avoided when setting the perfect table. At Wick-edly Sent we have a great selection of smokeless, dripless and odorless tapers in wonderful holiday colors.

Keep centerpieces and decorations low so they don’t interfere with conversation or with the food. Boughs of fresh pine or cedar are an easy and fragrant decoration that won’t get in the way. To complete the holiday look use fabric remnants to make holiday table runners or simply wrap your table in holiday paper. Gold or silver paper can make a dramatic statement and will set off your china.

So when you start thinking about your next party, don’t just focus on the menu. Think about your decorations and arrange your rooms in advance, and you’ll be able to enjoy your gathering as much as your guests.