by Valerie Demetros
Setting a table properly used to be common knowledge, but these days it’s a lost art.
Yet the fact remains that food is more appetizing when served in a beautiful setting. Also, an elegant table setting sets the tone for the evening, letting guests see you went that extra step to show them just how welcome they are.
If you’re feeling a bit unpracticed on your setting skills, no worries. For both casual and formal dining, the tips below will keep your guests coming back for more.
BASIC DINING The basic table setting we are all familiar with, perhaps for a quick lunch with a friend, generally includes a fork, knife, spoon and napkin. As a general rule, the folded napkin sits to the left of the plate with the fork on top. To the right of the plate, place the knife with the blade facing the plate and the spoon to its right. Pretty simple.
CASUAL DINING A casual setting should be intimate and unfussy, but still demonstrate your flair and style. Start with the basic setting but step it up with your flatware and linens. Now is the time to get creative. Flatware can be crossed and tied with ribbon or raffia and you can tie the napkin in a knot or fold it and place it on the plate.
If needed, add a salad plate and then a soup bowl on your dinner plate. The water glass should sit just above the knife and to its right a wine glass.
FORMAL DINING The formal table setting gets a bit more complicated, but don’t worry. You just need to provide your guests with everything they need for a beautiful meal.
Adding a tablescape can elevate your setting but make sure it doesn’t block anyone’s view. It’s difficult to carry on a conversation while peeking through greenery and flowers.
First, place a charger in the center of the setting, add the plate and top off with the salad plate. If you’re serving soup, place the bowl on the salad plate. Add a salad fork next to the dinner fork and beside your spoon, add the soup spoon. Just above the plates, place a dessert spoon horizontally.
A formal setting generally has more courses and may need more cutlery. If you’re serving bread, add a bread plate with the knife horizontally on the plate, directly above the napkin (if you are limited on space, it can go on top of the salad plate).
If you are serving more than one wine option, add a white wine glass just beneath the red wine glass to form an elegant triangle. Even though you don’t need a butler’s ruler to even up everything precisely, try to make sure everything is properly lined up.
For the next level of style, add place cards directly above the dessert spoon. Be sure and put the name on both sides so guests can find their seat, and guests sitting across won’t have to guess who they are talking to.