Get inspired to reinvent your gatherings with tips from top designers and influencers in this exciting new series. Explore all these compelling design ideas below, and create collections that speak to your style.

Phyllis Hoffman DePiano Hero Image

- Phyllis Hoffman DePiano

Q&A with Phyllis Hoffman DePiano

For this edition, we spoke with Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, CEO of Hoffman Media, which publishes Southern Lady, TeaTime, Victoria, and other notable magazines and books.

Q: Do you style your table by mixing and matching patterns?

A: Yes I love it! Mixing and matching is a way of bringing all your favorites to the table in many combinations! Many of us have dishes we have inherited or purchased through the years, and we love them all. So mixing and matching gives me the opportunity to use them all every holiday season.

Q: How do you choose the patterns you use to mix and match?

A: I have done this several ways. The easiest way is to serve each course on a different pattern; that always brings about great conversation. First I start with my dinner plate selection. Then if I have salad plates that have the same colors, I will use them. I have blue and white dishes that have a holiday theme, and I mix them with my “regular” blue and white china. I like to use plates with graduated sizes so they all show at one time!

My Christmas dishes are traditional reds and greens. I have solid red china that I use as a base, and I add my patterned dishes on top of that. I collected the Fitz and Floyd Holly Wreath when I was in college, and I still love it today; it mixes with solids and plaids nicely. Generally, if the colors match then mix away. I find having solid red glasses and odd bowls can really add to the fun.

Q: How you think about designing your table?

A: If your dinner is casual, then your linens can reflect that! I select my main plates first, and then I decide on my linens. From there the centerpiece can really pull everything together. Chargers add a nice look as well. For more formal dinners, gold is always good. The gold bands on plates work well with any gold charger. If you don’t have Christmas china, then purchasing holiday salad plates that match is good.

More casual settings lend themselves to simple dishes with holiday centerpieces. My philosophy is simple: use what you love! If you are the lucky recipient of family heirlooms, you can always update by adding holiday patterns that match. I have about five sets of holiday dishes and china. I start using them in November and I use one pattern until spring. Juliska’s Country Estate Winter Holiday scenes work perfectly for me through the winter months. My big bowl stays out year round - it just makes me happy.

I have always wanted to build a table around each place having a different place setting of china… in fact, I think I will do that this year!