The aim of setting a table is to make your guest feel welcome – a well-set table speaks of care, good planning, and the promise of a festive meal.
By all means play with colour and texture in your tablecloths, napkins and seat cushions. If possible, use cloth napkins – the bigger the better.
Flowers and candles provide the finishing touches – allow the season to play a role in your choice. For example, use rich, warm colours in winter and adopt a fresher, lighter approach for summer. And if you’re entertaining eight or more guests, consider using place cards.
If your table is large enough, place a charger under each dinner plate, with the side plate to the left of that and the napkin on top. If you’re serving the meal at the table, place the soup bowl or starter plate on top of the dinner plate.
Remember: You’re allowed to mix and match your dinnerware.
Where to put your cutlery:
With your menu in mind, make sure that you have all the utensils needed for each course. Set your cutlery (which also doesn’t have to match) on either side of the dinner plate in the order in which it will be used (apart from the butter knife, which lies on top of the napkin on the side plate, with the cutting edge facing away from the dinner plate).
The knife and fork for the first course are placed on the outside of the setting, with the knife and fork for the main course inside them. In this case, the cutting edges of the knives face inwards, toward the plate.
The dessert fork and spoon are placed above the plate, with the fork closest to the plate. If you prefer, you can present the forks and spoons with dessert.
How to arrange your glasses:
Glasses are set in a straight line and a specific order above the knives: the first glass to be used (generally the white wine glass) is placed on the extreme right; this is followed by the red wine glass, then the champagne flute for dessert.
If a water tumbler is necessary, this stands at the end of the line, but avoid setting more than three glasses per person.
Remember: The simpler the meal, the more attention you should pay to presentation. No matter how economical the dish, it won’t look inferior if it’s attractively served with style and flair.