When it comes to hosting a gathering, some things are non-negotiable. Favorite people, fun conversations, and memorable menus for everyone. But every meal, even a casual Tuesday night dinner, is an opportunity to intentionally set the table. When we eat together with friends and family, we are nourishing different parts of ourselves. can.
MFK Fisher, one of my favorite authors, elegantly said, “Sharing a meal with others is an intimate act and should not be indulged lightly.”
But I also understand that many different etiquette rules and occasions can make your head spin when it comes to knowing how to set the table. I’m having a casual dinner party, how do I fold the napkins? Is there a way to make your daily dinner with your toddler feel a little more graceful? Where do you put your salad fork?
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
How to set the table: ideas for every occasion
Soup spoon and dessert spoon, white wine glass and red. Your hands tremble as you place your drink… Now, is it the right side or the left side of the water glass? We’ve been there more times than we can count. There are a lot of “rules” to remember, and I appreciate the guidance. When it comes to setting the table in style, what’s the point if you can’t let all your beautiful creations shine?
That’s the fun, and perhaps the beauty, of etiquette. Some may be quick to write off as outdated or irrelevant, but we like to rely on convention for guidance and inspiration. and create space for creativity. After all, setting the table is an exercise in balance.
Why setting up a table is important
The table settings are similar Change clothes even when working from home. It brings intention to your day and helps you transition from one moment to dwell in the energy of the next. I love to level up the impact of food-prepared dinners and leftovers with a fresh bouquet of flowers, or to smash my finest china when a friend comes over for a meal.
It’s part of what makes every day a celebration. When we direct our energies towards what is important, we understand that the rest of the magic will have a greater impact than we first believed.
So, if you’re ready to learn how to set the table for everyday dinners, casual get-togethers, and formal occasions, read on—this guide has you covered.
basic table setting
our Weekday evening meals are often frenzied.If you’re a parent of small children, you know you can shuffle from school to sports to pickup manyAnd having dinner at the table is a feat in itself. Now is not the time to overdo it (if you have the energy to do so…). Instead, keep things simple and streamlined. All you need for a basic table setting are placemats, dinnerware, dinner plates, glasses and napkins.
If you want to make this meal a little more special, and if you have time, add a bunch of seasonal flowers to your cart when you do your dinner shopping. Even just one can go a long way.
Basic table setting procedure
Just because you’ve kept things basic doesn’t mean you can’t infuse your setup with a little personality. This is not the time to stress about matching sets.
- Cover the table if necessary. Placemats keep things clean and easy, especially when dining with young children. But I also like the look of an airy cotton or linen tablecloth draped over the table. A machine-washable cotton or linen tablecloth can be put in the laundry immediately after dinner.
- Place the dinner plate in the middle of your table setting or placemat. No charger needed.
- Place the napkin on the left side of the dinner plate. As for the basic table setting, you can go with this option or place the napkins over the dinner plates for a little more elegance.
- Set the tableware. Place the fork on the left side of the dinner plate (on top of the napkin), the knife on the right side of the dinner plate, and the spoon on the right side of the knife.
- Set water glass. Place the glass in the upper right corner of the setting, above the knife.
casual table setting
Casual gatherings are centered around intimacy. Compared to more formal relationships, there are likely to be fewer guests and often diners who know each other well. explore and add details where you need inspiration. Whether it’s a custom printed menu, Whether it’s a DIY flower arrangement or a creative napkin display, just because you want to take it easy doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun.
A casual table setting is much like a basic one, except for a few extra layers and decorations. In such a case, how about incorporating a soup bowl or salad plate? As a rule of thumb, line up only the crockery, cutlery, and glasses you need for your menu. You don’t need to do anything extra (at worst, you’ll confuse your guests!).
The tableware (decorative plate that serves as the base of the tableware) can be freely placed casually. Chargers are usually reserved for more formal tables, but if you want to accent your plating, go ahead and use a looser material like rattan or wood.
Casual table setting instructions
- set linen tablecloth Or a placemat. For a casual table setting, linen tablecloths are preferred. But that’s up to your own design preferences.An elegant placemat works just as well.
- Place a dinner plate in the middle of each setting. Then layer it on a salad plate. Place a soup bowl on top if serving a course of soup.
- Get creative with napkins and tableware. The general rules of basic table setting apply here. Place the napkin to the left or on top of the dinner plate and match the cutlery accordingly. However, if you want to change things up and get creative, I love putting napkins on the plates or grouping the dishes in the glasses. Natural flourishes like herbal springs and seasonal flowers make a nice accent on napkins.
- Place water and wine glasses. A water glass is in the upper right corner of the setting, with a wine glass placed sideways and slightly above. If not, just use what we provide.
formal table setting
When it comes to setting the formal table, keep that in mind. It might be the most nerve-wracking of the events on here (formal gatherings often mean multi-course meals with various wine pairings), but it’s also a great way to add a touch of flair to the table. are most welcome. While it may be tempting to choose matching elements, it’s a good idea to incorporate a quirky, eclectic feel into the setting. , can be achieved by recycled design. Just because it’s a formal setting doesn’t mean you can’t weave interest and originality into your dining table.
Formal table setting procedure
- Choose a tablecloth. A formal table setting is about laying a strong, design-focused foundation for the elements to come. A solid color tablecloth creates a clean landscape of the other components used to build the tablescape. To be clear, you don’t need a fully glued tablecloth. I love the look it brings to the
- Start with your centerpiece. If you have a long table, make the centerpiece lower and longer. Incorporate seasonal fruits, flowers and herbs to bring color and interest to your table. I love adding some tealights for ambience. What are the ground rules for centerpieces? Allow your guests to look over it and comfortably talk to the person dining across the table.
- put the charger in every seat. Charger adds layered interest to the table design, creating a natural center point for the multiple plates and bowls needed for formal settings.
- Stack the plates. You could certainly put the bread and butter and salad plate to the left of your dinner plate, but a formal gathering might mean more guests. If so, stack the plates in the following order: dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl (if serving a soup course), and bread plate. above.
- Place a napkin to the left of the charger. To spread out the setting horizontally, place a napkin to the left of the dinner plate and charger and roll it outwards.
- Add tableware. The dinner fork is placed to the left of the plate, followed by the salad fork. Place the knife on the right side of the plate with the spoon facing out. Place the dessert spoon horizontally on the plate.
- Include location cards. Ranking cards are a great way to get more out of your creative talents. Choose a seasonal or evergreen design that you like, or fold a small square of cardstock in half and write the guest’s name in easy-to-read script facing the chair to keep it simple. but it’s a great way to learn the names of people sitting around you.
- Top it off with drinkware. The same rules apply as for casual table settings. Place the water glass on the dinner knife and form a triangle with the white wine glass on the right and the red wine glass on top.