There’s a laid table, and then there’s a tablescape. The former might involve place mats, cutlery, napkins, salt and pepper, a candle in an old wine bottle if you’re feeling retro and a bunch of flowers if you’re pushing the boat out. The latter is more of an experience than a table. It must be visually arresting, unexpected, as beautiful as a landscape — and it has to have a theme.

Hiring the Help

There’s clearly an untapped market for this kind of thing — a mass of people who want to entertain more gorgeously, but don’t know how — because at least two businesses have launched this autumn offering “a tablescape in a box”. In the US a number of prestigious investors, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon, have put money behind Social Studies, a company that lets out everything needed for a themed table to clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Here in the UK the socialite and Vogue contributor Alice Naylor-Leyland last week launched her smaller but similar self-named company, which sells co-ordinated Christmas tablescapes with “festive friends”.

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