With the Barefoot Contessa's expert advice, we're ready to host any get-together.
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Ina Garten on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Jason Kempin

For her 6-ingredient lemon chicken to her tomato sandwich with delicious basil mayo, everybody wants to earn a spot on Ina Garten's dinner party guest list. The Barefoot Contessa recently revealed the easy ways she makes a table stand out on NBC's Today, with co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. Put on some tunes (like Garten's dance party playlist or favorite love songs) and call up a few close friends—time to throw an Ina-approved dinner party!

1. Add a Pop of Color to the Tablecloth

The first order of business is to clothe the table. Garten recommends using a simple tablecloth, like a white linen one, and adding a pop of color that's easy to match. Here, she tops a white, round linen tablecloth with blue fabric to tie in her dishes. In the segment, Guthrie asked if the blue piece was a runner, to which Garten responded, "It's just a square of fabric, actually!" Easy peasy. 

2. Get the Table Setting Right

When it comes to plates, Garten recommends mixing it up. Mismatching plates gives the table a whimsical feel and saves you from dropping major money on matching dish sets. Once she sets the plates, Garten lays napkins to the left—folds facing in. Next up? Cutlery. But, worry not—it's simpler than it seems. The right side holds the knife and spoon, while the left side is reserved for forks. "Everybody wonders about the forks," Garten says. "You do the first fork that you're going to use—the salad fork—first and the dinner fork second." When it comes to glasses, Garten positions them in front of the plate, slightly to the right. Tip: If you're serving wine, stick with a smaller glass for white and larger for red. 

Dinning table layout diagram
Credit: Getty Images / johnwoodcock

3. Stick with a Simple Centerpiece

Perfecting a floral arrangement is a task for another day. Garten recommends opting for a simple bowl of lemons or fruit as a classic centerpiece. But if you are a flower fan, take an easier route with small vases that only hold a few stems. "It's not so easy to do a flower arrangement," Garten tells Today. "But, if you do lots of bud vases you can move them around until they're perfect." In a recent Instagram post, Garten flaunts a beautiful ranunculus centerpiece using this tactic.

The most important dinner party rule to remember is … there are no rules! From past party flops, Garten has learned to focus less on the numbers and more on the friendships. "The first thing about a dinner party is it can be four people, it doesn't have to be 12," she told Today. "It's overwhelming even for me!" She went on to grant permission to opt for takeout if it saves stress. "You order out a lasagna, but put it in your own dish so you're not serving it in some cardboard." And if guests ask how you made it, she suggests simply responding with "I'm so glad you like it." 

Need more Ina? Tune into her new Food Network show, Be My Guest—where she hosts guests, such as Julianna Margulies and Erin French, at her home each week for cooking, conversations and fun. Or, preorder her new cookbook, Go-To Dinners, before its October 25 release.