Some people, when planning a party and setting the tables, opt for perfect harmony between each and every item on the table: all guests must have the same flatware, drinkware, plates, and placemats, all in the same color palette. But that can get a little boring. A little creative variety, done well, can showcase your spontaneity and be even more eye-catching than following the rules to a T. Walking the line between mismatch and mix-and-match can take a keen sense of balance, so follow these tips for mixing and matching tableware.
In filmmaking, there’s a rule called the 30-degree rule. This states that when cutting between camera shots, the camera must move at least 30 degrees from the previous shot. This is important because a variation that’s too small won’t look like a conscious decision, but an error by the director. This purposeful variety applies to matching tableware, as well. While you don’t have to move 30 degrees on the color wheel when pairing different colors, make sure you have enough variation between colors to appear intentional—for instance, a plate and a charger in slightly different shades of light blue will probably look like a failed attempt to match. But don’t overthink separation and insist upon complementary colors only—blues and greens can pair just as well as any two colors.
By filling a table with a smattering of patterns, no one will even be thinking about attempts to match in the first place. Instead, their gazes will be drawn to the different designs at the table: some guests may have geometric patterns on their plates, while others have freeform designs or stripes or speckles. By taking the emphasis off solid colors and the ways they interact, you can embrace the chaos of mixed-and-matched patterns.
Make the Most of Details
Perhaps the idea of clashing patterns and contrasting colors on your plates is a little too daunting for you. That’s okay—there are still elegant disposable party supplies that are a little more low-key. You can still find room for tips for mixing and matching tableware with restraint. Consider an approach that allows getting creative and unique with the details, such as flatware or napkins. Using these smaller parts of the table settings to add bursts of color can help you mix and match with ease.