There’s something so magical about hosting a dinner party that I wish there were enough time to do it more often! It’s one of the many things I love about the holidays… Sitting down at a beautiful, bountiful table, enjoying great food and conversation with loved ones. All moments to be cherished and memories on the cusp of being made.
A carefully planned table is a crucial part of holiday decorating, but the skills you use in December will also serve you well year-round. Here’s how to set a gorgeous – and proper! – table that will gain Emily Post’s approval and work well with your interior design sensibility.
Place Setting Perfection
We all know the dinner plate goes in the middle, but then what? It depends on how formal the event and how much room you have to work with. If you plan to have a starter course of a salad or soup, put that dish on top of your dinner plate, and top with a folded napkin.
Forks belong to the left of the plate, in the order they’ll be used (from left to right): salad fork and dinner fork with the dessert fork above the plate. One fork is fine, too! Above the forks on the left sits the bread plate, and if you have one, place a small butter knife across it an angle to clue guests in.
To the right of the dinner plate are knives and spoons, with the knife closest to the plate, followed by a soup spoon and/or teaspoon. Above the knife is the water glass; and then to the right, is the wine glass.
Because it never fails to happen, especially at a round table banquet, someone will grab a glass to their left and use the bread plate on their right… Yes, the whole table is thrown off, but be a gracious host and just go with it.
For your future reference, though, the quickest and easiest way to remember which items to use are to take your right hand and make a “d” with your thumb and index finger circled and the rest of your fingers sticking up. The “d” stands for “drinks” and is on your right-hand side just like the glasses you should use. With your left hand, circle your thumb and index finger in the same way to make a “b.” The “b” stands for “bread” and is on your left-hand side exactly like the bread plate you should use.
The most common mistake people make with their holiday centerpieces is to go too large and/or too tall. Some designers recommend making bold statements, but blocking your guests’ view of each other across the table or not leaving room to comfortably place the place settings, won’t win you any compliments.
You also want to carefully select flowers with a fragrance that won’t interfere with the aroma of your meal, so choose wisely. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Candlelight: A pair of elegant candlesticks or a collection of tea lights in low, interesting containers are always appropriate. Their small footprint makes it easy to fit them onto even the most crowded banquet table.
- Bud Vases: A single bloom at each place setting can be lovely, and they make a great favor to send home with your guests.
- Low, Mounded Bouquets: Classic flower arrangements are great, but just make sure they are no taller than 12 inches at their highest point. Three or five small arrangements will create a visual rhythm on a long table.
- Table Runners: When the food is the focal point, all you need is a lovely table runner to frame your serving dishes of amazing treats!
Regardless of your design choices, remember to have fun and align it with your overall style and personality. And if you ever need help on that front, we offer in-home consultations to establish, or enhance, your home interior design.