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How To Set The Table

How To Set The Table

How to Set Your Table for Various Events 

Food is nearly always the main event of any party. It can determine the success (or failure) of your next big event. How often have you heard someone remark “how was the food” or “dinner was amazing” when someone speaks about a recent party. But the actual meal itself is only part of the prep. Table settings play a large role in presentation and helping to create that ambiance that will make your next dinner party a hit.
From table settings to centerpieces, we’ll discuss how to set and dress your table to make the main course the central attraction of your big event. Learn about creating a table setting that’s both aesthetically pleasing as well as functional.  
Your guests experience lies heavily on the atmosphere you set for your party.  The table setting of your choice sets the tone for your event and allows guests to act more formal or informal, based upon the desired atmosphere chosen for the party.  

The Formal Place Setting

Many are intimidated by the formal place setting, however, understanding the basic principals of a traditional table setting will help ensure success. Special occasions like Weddings, Corporate Events, Galas, Charity Events, Christmas and Thanksgiving tend to have formal table settings.  With a formal table setting the placement of utensils are of the most importance. Guests will start with the outermost utensils left and right of their plate and then work towards the center until reaching the utensils for the main course.  Forks are almost always set to the left of the plate and the spoons and knives are placed on the right. Glasses and stemware are set up to the right of the dinner plates.  Bread and appetizer plates sit up and to the left of your main course. The courses chosen for the event dictate which utensils are necessary, i.e.: soup spoons, appetizer forks, salad forks, etc. With a formal table setting, uniformity matters. Your silverware should be lined up with the bottom of your chargers and evenly spread across the table.  Silverware should also be placed about an inch from the edge of the table and the knife blade should also face inward towards the plate.  The napkin placement is personal preference and can be placed in the center of the place setting on top of the first dish, or to the left of the forks.   The napkin has the ability to make the place setting stand out.  There are many different linen napkin folding techniques and napkin rings to dress up your place-setting.  For an added visual effect, add colored chargers to the bottom of your place settings to highlight and add an element of design and “wow factor.” 

The informal Place-Setting 

Although you may be hosting an informal event, uniformity and an orderly arrangement will add to the look of your table even at an informal meal.  The dish is the centerpiece of the arrangement.  The utensils are then arranged in the order needed, from left to right on the left side of your plate and right to left on the right side of your plate. Glassware goes to the top right and napkins can be placed anywhere you would like. 
If you’re hosting a buffet or outdoor BBQ and you intend to have your guests grab their own utensils, try to group them all in together with plates, napkins and other table settings so that your guests have everything at their fingertips.


Whether it be an intimate gathering, a corporate function or an elegant wedding reception linens are a stylish and important design element to any event.  Ivory and cream serve well when trying to achieve an elegant and sophisticated look.  If your party has a theme or a color scheme, try adding colored, printed, striped, patterned or polka dotted table cloths. When linens are folded they crease; so be sure to have the linens freshly pressed or steamed the day of the event. 


This is your personal touch and the options are endless. It has the ability to transform your whole party. Whether it be flowers, candles, holiday decor or candy, it is key to keep them out of eye level.  Low or high centerpieces work best; this allows your guests to engage in conversation without an obstruction to their view of each other.  If using candles, it is important to keep them unscented so it does not interfere with the aroma of your food or people with sensitivities to scents.  

Chair Covers

Chair covers or slipcovers come in a variety of colors and textures which fit a plethora of chairs.  From folding chairs to banquet chairs, to chairs with high and low backs.  Chairs fitted with a cover compliment the linens at your event and add to the overall appearance.  If you would like to add detail and dimension to dress up the chair and give it a more tapered look, try adding a chair tie or colored band around the back of the chair.  Matching the band to the color of the napkin can be a customized detailed look that is sure to make your table pop.
With your personal touches you can create a table setting to your specifications that will leave your guests speechless.  Have fun with designing and let your imagination be your guide! 
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