Guess who's coming to dinner?
New York — If you can't get to Tiffany's to view the current exhibit of fabulous table settings, this elegant Manhattan store has arranged to bring them into your home. The book ''The New Tiffany Table Settings'' (New York: Doubleday & Co., $ 50) presents, for close-up scrutiny in full color, dozens of unusual, highly individual table settings.
These settings have been put together by, with, and for celebrities from different walks of life and various parts of world. The stellar roster represents a cross-section of notables in the arts, politics, interior design, fashion, food, and high society itself. It includes such well-knowns as Bob Hope , Mrs. Vincent Astor, Cary Grant, Gloria Vanderbilt, Julia Child, Mrs. Henry Parish II, Paloma Picasso, Angelo Donghia, and Mrs. Henry Kissinger.
According to Henry B. Platt, vice chairman of Tiffany & Co. and co-author of the book, the last such compilation of the store's table settings came out 25 years ago. He felt it was time for an update.
''A whole new generation has grown to maturity,'' he explains. ''Also times have changed. Lifestyles have changed. And certainly the way people entertain has changed. Table settings generally are far less staid, far more relaxed, and distinctly personal. Today they exude a flair, vitality, wit, and imagination that were unheard of a quarter-century ago. We wanted to present this new and far more exciting and dramatic approach to table design.''
Mr. Platt points out that the settings range from picnics in the country and at the beach to grand-occasion dinner parties. The sumptuous, beautiful book he has produced with co-author John Loring, design director of Tiffany's (with the help of a battery of superb photographers), was obviously introduced at this time as a candidate for Christmas giving.
The book offers readers an opportunity to observe how experts put their tables together, what they mix with what, and the many ways they fold and place napkins. The settings indicate a wider use of larger napkins and a certain inclination toward bare tables, with fine silver, china, and crystal placed directly against the patina of fine wood or the gleam of stainless steel, glass, marble, lacquer, and checked Formica. They illustrate the current trend toward the mixing of both crystal and china patterns and the ability to incorporate a wide range of art, artifacts, and personal collections into table designs.
Diana Vreeland, for instance, set her dinner-for-one table so she could companion with a life-size bust of Voltaire as well as a pink gloxinia plant in full bloom. Betsy Bloomingdale set her ''Monday night football'' table with a mixture of antique flatware with ivory handles and modern Tiffany pieces, and then plopped a miniature television in the middle of the table with the insouciant note that it was an ''ornamental object.''
Many of the centerpieces shown in the book are off-center and unexpected. Mrs. Walter Hoving, for instance, featured a tablescape of crystal obelisks, cones, and cubes of many sizes, intermixed with white candles of varied heights rising out of low holders. Mrs. Donald Newhouse illustrated the versatile uses of small porcelain boxes.
This book of new Tiffany table settings probably comes at an auspicious time. We are in a period when the ritual of entertaining at home is in full flower and when cookbook sales and creative cookery are at an all-time high.