The Perfect Setting- Table Setting Tips
Setting a table should be an expression of your personal style. But even the most creative stylists need structure to achieve the best results. After deciding on the time, place and guest list, consider the following steps to setting the perfect table.
Table settings can make your kitchen table look beautiful, turning a dinner, buffet or breakfast into something really special. Here’s how to get it right, whatever the occasion:
Bend the table-setting rules
There are lots of traditions around table settings, but you don’t have to stick to them. The aim is to create a beautiful table where your guests can relax and enjoy themselves, as well as presenting your meal in a way that does justice to your hard work in the kitchen. If a formal setting works for you – great. If not, or if space is limited – improvise!
Think about what you want to include
Table settings include china, glassware, cutlery and napkins. You may also want to include condiment sets, candles and napkin rings. Before you start, think about the ambiance you want to create. Whatever the occasion, I prefer to go with plain white china. Leaving the patterns behind will make your table look clean and fresh. And for serving bowls and salad bowls, try clear glass! This will show off your food and make it the star of the table. Target carries a nice selection, that are of course very affordable.
Choose your centerpiece
A lovely centerpiece is the heart of your table setting. Candles and fresh flowers are a popular choice – again, just make sure to keep it clean and simple. Alternatively, why not try succulents, a lantern, or candles in hurricane vases filled with pebbles or sand. You can find them at Home Goods or Crate & Barrel. Make sure your centerpiece isn’t too high for your guests to see over.
Arrange the cutlery
For cutlery, put the knives on the right, the forks on the left. The rule is to work from the outside in, so the cutlery that’s going to be used first goes on the outside. Knife blades should face the plate. Dessert spoons and forks go at the top. The napkin goes on the left, or in the center of the plate. If you have a left-handed guest, be polite by putting their cutlery on the right sides to give them extra elbow room and avoid upsetting the balance of your table setting. Seat them at the end of the table if possible.
Put your glasses in order
Glasses go above the knives, in the order they’re going to be used. For formal dinners, the water glass goes first, followed by the white wine glass and red wine glass. For informal meals, it’s water glass, glass for wine or juice, and if there’s room, coffee or tea cup and saucer.
Get your china in position
Again, don’t be bound by strict etiquette – adapt the rules to suit you. Traditionally, the side plate goes on the left of the forks with the knife laid across it. A base plate or service plate goes on the mat in the middle of the setting, with the soup bowl on top of it if you are serving soup.