Creating an attractively set table contributes to the ambiance of a meal as much as the food. No matter how simple the fare, it elevates the occasion and adds a little sparkle to the experience for everyone.
The Table Covering: It doesn’t have to be an official table cloth. Think about using a quilt, a special blanket, bed sheet, or mixing several scarves or cloths that work well together. What about a table runner that extends the length or width of your table? Have a beautiful table? Leave it bare to show it off!
The Centerpiece: Why spend money? Look at everyday things in a new way and use what you already have.
- Gather greenery, twigs, pine cones, even rocks from the outdoors.
- Candle light is magical and makes everything glow. Vary heights for interest, and be sure to use unscented to avoid competing with the food.
- Flowers are a lovely addition; again, be aware of competing scents.
- Do a sit test to ensure that the height is low enough that everyone can see each other across the table.
There is often a question of “How can I tell which is my bread plate?”, especially when sitting at a crowded table. One answer is to make a “b” with your left index finger and thumb, and a “d” with your right; “b” for bread is on your left, and “d” for drink is on your right. Another trick is to remember “BMW”: bread (on the left); Meal (in the center); and Water (on the right).
The Table Setting: Don’t have enough of each plate size for the entire table? Mix them up! Varying the patterns and colors makes the table more interesting. Do the same with your glassware.
- The optimal measurement between place settings is 22” but can work with as little as 18”.
- A charger is used as a decorative place holder for the dinner plate.
- Center the charger or dinner plate approximately 2″ from the edge of the table. Flatware should line up with the bottom of the plate.
- The napkin should be placed to the left of the utensils, with the folded edge pointing toward the plate. It may also be placed directly on the dinner plate.
- Soup bowls are placed directly on the dinner plate.
- Salad plates go above the forks to the left side of the dinner plate.
- The bread plate is slightly above the salad plate, and closer to the dessert fork.
- The water glass is placed directly above the dinner knife.
- The wine glass is placed to the right of the water glass.
- Serving tea and coffee? Cups and saucers may be preset on the table, to the right of the utensils, or not, depending upon when it will be served.
- Forks belong on the left of the dinner plate, knives and spoons go on the right.
- Knife blades should always face inward, towards the dinner plate.
- The dessert fork and/or spoon may be placed horizontally over the dinner plate.
Whether you are eating off of paper plates or the most delicate of china, setting the table for a holiday meal doesn’t need to stressful. Remember, perfection is over-rated, and expecting imperfections will help you to reduce anxiety and enjoy the moment. Your guests are there to spend time with you!