When you host a dinner party, what’s the first thing guests notice? (Aside from the aroma and ambiance). The answer: Your table! The way you design and set your dining room table adds personality and creates an atmosphere for your gathering. By putting some extra effort into your table setting, you can help your guests feel welcomed, comfortable, and excited to dig into the meal ahead. If you need some table setting inspo, let the following tips be your guide.
Before you bust out the linens, plates, cutlery, serve ware, and drinkware, take a few moments to think about how you want your guests to feel. If you’re hosting a holiday dinner then the vibe is pretty easy to figure out. But what about a girl’s night in? Or a couples night with close friends? This is your time to figure out a theme, the overall feel (casual or formal), color scheme, etc.
Remember: Opposites Attract
When crafting a gorgeous table setting, you don’t always have to be so “matchy-matchy”. Subtly mixing textures, playing with patterns, and incorporating varying sizes of things helps the table pop.
Pick Your Plates
Dinner plates should be like a blank canvas ready to be painted. Think about the shape, color, and size — it will have a direct impact on the table’s overall look and, eventually, your meal. If you’re looking to invest in nice plates that will fit a variety of occasions, you really can’t go wrong with white, round plates. Or another neutral color that matches your home.
Layer It Up
Height adds dimension and depth. Rather than just throwing one dinner dish down in front of each chair and calling it a night, consider layering a gorgeous placemat, a charger plate, the dinner plate, and then topping it off with a salad plate.
For another boost in height, place a cloth napkin on top of the salad plate and end with a menu on the tippy top. But we’ll talk about those in just a second!
Place Utensils & Glasses in the Proper Order
Some food rules are meant to be broken … others are not. And where you place your cutlery, plates, and glasses are one of those rules you should definitely follow! Here’s a quick reference guide:
- Forks to the left of your plate. The dinner fork should be placed closest to the plate and the salad fork should go the left of the dinner fork.
- Knives to the right side of your plate, blade facing the plate.
- Spoon directly right of the knife.
- Place a dessert fork and spoon horizontally above the plate, optional.
- Set the water glass in the top right corner, above the knife.
- The wine glasses is placed to the right of the water glass.
Add a Pop of Color With The Napkins
This is your opportunity to add a splash of color to your table. Think: Burnt orange for Thanksgiving, bold red for Valentine’s Day, light pink or Tiffany teal for a girl’s night, pink or blue for a gender reveal, your intended wedding colors for an engagement party, etc.
If you only want to invest in one set of cloth napkins, though, opt for white napkins and just swap out the napkin rings!
Create a Menu
If you’re hosting a casual dinner then you may not print out dinner menus. But, they do add a nice touch on top of each guest’s plate. Coordinate the menu colors with your dinner’s overall theme.
Personalize Each Place Setting
I always find it stressful when I have a full house and haven’t thought about where everyone is going to sit – it can sometimes get awkward. Plus, personalizing their seats makes them feel welcome and at ease.
Get creative with place cards for each guest. It can be as simple as printing their name on a little card or something more extravagant (like carving names into mini pumpkins for a Fall-themed dinner).
Tip: Write the guest’s name on both sides so they can easily find their seats.
When designing your table, don’t forget about the centerpiece! A combination of varying size candles (small votive, floating, or long stick) and bursts of fresh flowers in gorgeous glass vases are always a good idea.
A quick note on candles: Opt for unscented. This way you’ll avoid clashing with the food’s aroma.
For flowers: Pick an arrangement that matches your overall vibe and color scheme.
How High Is Too High?
Pairing shorter arrangements next to larger ones adds visual interest. But how high is too high? In general, when having people over to your house, it’s best to keep centerpieces on the shorter side so they don’t block your view of the person sitting across from you. With that said, one thing I love to do to add height is to place the larger arrangements in a clear glass vase so you can still see your neighbor through the glass!