A great meal—for 2 or 12—starts with the setting. When registering, load up on personality-packed items that will set the stage for festive dinner parties and lively conversations for years to come

Sidestep pink's girly rep: Match subtle shades with brown and ivory for an effect that's elegant but far from frilly.

"White Rose" pitcher, $125, Bulgar USA, available at Wantful; Ivory "Baroque" tray, $180, Spisani, available at Barneys; Porcelain dipping bowl, $40, salad plate, $40, dinner plate, $50, and cheese plate, $275, ABC Home; "Caprise" 11-inch pillar candleholder, $17, Z Gallerie; Spoons, $165 for two, De Vera; Double cherry-blossom paper garland, $6 per six-foot strand, 1 Pixie Place; "Cherry Ink" four-piece place setting, $75, Ink Dish; "Synthesis" place card, price upon request, Elum; Covered bowl, $595, De Vera; Carafe (part of a set of three), $150, Michele Varian; "Cherry Blossom" glasses, $14 each, Roost, available at Hazelnut New Orleans; "Petals Daisy" nine-inch vase, $50, Lenox