An occasional table is a small decorative table. This term is used generically to encompass things like end tables, lamp tables, sofa tables, coffee tables, and so forth. The design and styling of an occasional table can vary widely, and many companies sell tables in sets which are designed to coordinate both with each other and with an existing design scheme. Most furniture stores sell occasional tables, and you can also custom order one if you cannot find a store model which meets your needs.
In order to be considered an occasional table, a table must generally be small enough that it does not have an immensely practical use; it is meant primarily for decoration or display. A small kitchen table, therefore, would not be an occasional table, since it is designed as a place to sit an eat, whereas a large coffee table would be an occasional table, since it used to display large format books and curios.
A well placed occasional table can dramatically change a room. Such tables can be useful for displaying artifacts from trips, like sculpture, baskets, and various found objects. They can also be used to elevate and display lamps; an occasional table at the end of a couch, for example, can put a lamp in the convenient reach of a seated reader. When the table meshes well with the existing décor, it can quietly accentuate the room without drawing attention to itself. In some cases, an occasional table may also come with a drawer or shelf for additional storage, which can be very useful.
The materials used to make occasional tables vary widely. You can find them in a range of woods and metals with inlays in wood, glass, ceramic, or metal. Many companies make occasional tables which are meant to blend with a specific theme, like Chippendale or Mission style furniture. Depending on the design, an occasional table can be very fragile, because furniture makers often build them with slim legs and minimal cross bracing so that they do not look bulky.
While occasional tables can be great and very useful, try not to go overboard with them. Too many small tables can clutter a room, making it difficult to navigate and unsightly. If you feel like you need more space to display treasured items, consider setting up a rotating display so that your rooms are not overwhelmed with objects; guests will also appreciate the variety.