Ever wonder what the proper etiquette is for setting the table for a special occasion? Here are 12 tips for creating a beautiful and inviting table setting!
I was recently at my mother-in-law’s house with my little guy while she was busily preparing for a get together with some friends at her house that night.
We’d been talking about this girls night and all of her preparations for several weeks now, so of course, I was curious about how it all came together. I just happened to glance into the dining room to check out what she’d been working on and let me just say… one look at her table and I instantly fell in love!
Everything was so pretty from the floral arrangements to the antique China to the perfectly set table.
I was so inspired! Because if you know me by now, I love anything pretty.
Up until this point in my life, I wouldn’t say I’ve hosted an abundance of gatherings, mostly because I’ve only owned a house for a couple of years now. So big disclaimer here — entertaining is definitely not something I’m an expert in, but it’s something I’d LOVE to get better at!
In a recent conversation with my my mother-in-law, she had mentioned that her mom always taught her from a young age to properly set the table and it’s something she helped out with as a child.
So of course, wanting to improve upon this skill set for my future hostess endeavours, I asked her for some tips for setting a stylish and pretty table (Hint: with Mother’s Day just around the corner, by implementing some of these tips, you could score some mega brownie points with mom! ;)
Here are some of the top tips I received for setting a beautiful table:
1. Start by determining the appropriate size of your table for the number of invited guests to ensure it is intimate and adjust the table’s additions accordingly.
2. Choose a table cloth that goes along with the rest of the decor and place it carefully on the table ensuring all overhang is even. I always like a nice white table cloth since it’s neutral and goes with everything.
3. Place the chairs carefully in place where each guest will be seated.
4. Put the largest plate that you will be using (usually a dinner-sized plate) centred in the middle of the chair about 2 centimetres from the edge of the table. If a salad is planned, the smaller plate can be placed on top of the dinner plate. This guideline can also apply to a bowl for soup or cereal.
5. Next is the placement of the basic flatware. The dinner fork should be placed to the left of the plate with the bottom aligned with the plate placement. To the right of the plate is the dinner knife and then the small spoon.
6. Add to the cutlery as required for the meal you have planned. The placement of the cutlery will depend upon the order in which the guest will use the cutlery. For example, if both a salad and dessert requiring a fork is planned, the salad fork would be placed to the outside followed by the dinner fork, with the dessert fork being closest to the plate.
7. Repeat the same principle on the right side. For example, if using a salad knife for the first course, it should be placed to the outside of the dinner knife. If a larger salad or cereal spoon is required, it would be placed on the outer right beside the smaller spoon to be used first.
8. Once you’re satisfied with the basic setting, it’s time to decide if a smaller plate for bread is required. If so, it goes to the left of the forks or if the setting is tight around the table, it can be placed up to the top left of the forks. A small butter knife can also be set above the small plate if desired
9. Now for the glasses. Glasses generally go to the top right of the place setting. The inner glass is the water glass. It is usually the larger glass. The outer glass is the wine glass just to the left of the tip of the largest knife. If both white and red wine is planned some prefer to use 2 wine glasses. The second wine glass is place above the first towards the centre of the table.
10. The cup and saucer go to the top right outer aspect of the place setting.
11. Now the napkin can be creative. It can be placed folded under the entire set of forks to the left of the plate, rolled in a napkin ring and placed on the plates, arranged above the place setting or creatively placed in the water glass.
12. Finally, the fun part is adding a personal touch that decorates the table and is personalized for the occasion. Try adding flowers, a centre piece that fits the theme of the occasion, candles, pretty place cards or menus placed at each setting. Really anything that adds a touch of prettiness to the table setting. We’re going for the pretty factor here! And of course, don’t forget to add some beautiful and delicious food!
There you have it — twelve tips for a beautiful table setting just in time for Mother’s Day!