Setting a table can be a work of art! Yet it can be simple and elegant. Here is an easy tutorial on how to set simple and elegant table.
Setting a table sets the stage.
During the holidays or special occasion, setting a table really sets the stage. It is the stage on which laughter will reverberate, important conversations will be mulled over and relationships nourished.
A table can set the tone of what the evening or day holds. Is it casual? A place where you can belly up to the table and enjoy a simple meal as a family? Or is it a well planned and decorated table for a meaningful celebration?
Whatever the tone the table sets, you may be looking for some simple “How-to’s” as you prepare your table for the seasons.
How to set the table
Think of a setting your table like layering a cake.
- If you are using a table cloth, that comes first.
2. Lay your placemats (again, if you are using them).
3. Place the dinner plate in the center of your placemat.
4. Silverware is next. I used to always get confused as to what utensil is supposed to be on what side. To clear up any confusion, here it is:
- Fork – left.
- Spoon – Right
- Knife – Right.
I have a way of remembering. Fork has 4 letters just like left. “F-O-R-K.” And “L-E-F-T”. Similarly spoon and knife have 5 letters just like the word right. “S-P-O-O-N” and “K-N-I-F-E” like “R-I-G-H-T.”
Still to this day, I spell out left and right when I set a table. It’s such a handy tool.
5. Set the glasses out next. Having the glasses as the 5th step is important because you will line them up with the plate and silverwear you just set.
There are a few different kinds of glasses you can set. Again, this will depend on the experience you are going for. You may have just a water glass, or you may also have a wine glass and even a champagne glass depending on the occasion.
For the purposes of this tutorial I have included a water goblet and a wine glass.
The water goblet or glass goes on the right of the dinner plate above the spoon and knife. If you have a wine glass, it goes right next to the water goblet to the right a bit. I created a diagram below for reference.
If you have a coffee cup to go with dessert, this will be on the left side of the dinner plate and above the fork.
6. Napkins. This is where you can add another element of decor to a table. Napkins can simply be folded and set to the left of the place setting. Or you can get fancy!
I have three special ways of folding napkins that are my tried and true go-tos.
3 Different Napkins Folding Techniques
Two of these require a napkin ring. I love these gold ones we got as a gift for our wedding! I have something similar linked here.
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1. The Bunch
This one requires absolutely no technique whatsoever! Lay out your square napkin and pinch the middle. Pull the napkin through your napkin ring, and there you go!
Placing this napkin on the plate provides a visual appealing display and symmetry on the place setting. But off to the side of the fork looks nice too.
2. The Bowtie
We had this style at our wedding and loved it! It’s alot easier than it looks and is great for themed dinner parties!
To make a bowtie, fold the napkin the long way (“hot dog”) and then again the short way (“hamburger”). Then tak your napkin ring and feed your napkin through until it is in the middle. You will need to do a little tugging and resituating of the napkin before placing it on the table.
Here is the finished product.
3. The Draped Look
This is another favorite of mine. I love how elegant it looks, and how easy it is to do.
Fold your napkin in half the long way (“hot dog”). Then lay it either under your plate with a little of the napkin sticking out of the top of the plate and the rest hanging down below.
If you have a salad plate or soup bowl on top of your dinner plate, you can place the napkin in between them as pictured below.
Additions to place setting.
As mentioned previously depending on what kind of a meal you are having, you may have more items to place on the table. For a dinner with multiple courses you might also need to place the following.
- Salad plate – on top of the dinner plate
- Soup bowl – top of the dinner plate or salad plate
- Dessert plate – to the top left of the place setting
- Salad fork – to the left of the dinner (larger) fork.
- Dessert fork – laid across the top of the dessert plate.
Outside of the table setting there are some other things to consider when setting a table. One of the most fun for me is the centerpiece!
Keep centerpieces at shoulder height or lower.
There is nothing more beauitful then a gigantic fountaining centerpeice. However, we have all been in situations where it’s hard to see someone across the table with there is a big centerpeice in the way.
My go to centerpiece is a bouquet of flowers! I particularly like the small round vases (as seen in the picture__ ). I have made the mistake all to often of creating this beautiful flower arrangement, but then once I put it on the table it is so tall I can’t see the person across the table. Keeping it small but beautiful is key.
If you want to give your centerpiece a personal touch consider arranging the bouquet yourself! I have a tutorial on how to arrange your own bouquet of flowers.
The same goes for any taper candles you have on the table. You don’t want the candle flame to be in the eyes view when you look across the table. Trimming them at the bottom if they are too tall is one way to accomplish this, or burning them down before your event.
Cloth napkins always make a table feel prepared.
We have gotten so used to paper napkins around our house. I recently started incorporating in more cloth napkins to add a more purposeful touch to our dinner table. And as a bonus, it helps us reduce the waste around our home!
Even if you are going for a more casual look, and aren’t setting the table with a tablecloth of any kind, a cloth napkin can be a great addition.
If you have the time consider placing name tags on the table. It may seem like a weird and hyper controlling thing to make a seating arrangement but it really is such a nice touch.
Consider this. What is the first thing you do when walking up to a table at someone else’s house? You try and figure out where to sit. You quickly ask yourself questions like “where should I sit, who should I make room for next to me? Where with my child sit?” You may eve ask the host, “where would you like me to sit?”
This awkward moment can easily be removed by the hostess by taking a few minutes to right out a name card. Imagine your guests walking up to the table and seeing their name. “Oh wow, I have a place at this table. I belong here.”
A simple act like this can increase your hospitality in major ways!
If you are looking for some inspiration on how to make beautiful fall tablescapes…
Check out my friend Teresa from the blog Celebration Elevation. Here is a picture of one of her tablescapes!
No matter what event you are setting the table for…
I hope this little nuggets have served you well and inspired you to set beautiful tables around your homes this holiday!
Tell me, what you something you would like to learn about hosting?
Leave a comment below!