Tips for Setting a Formal Table Worthy of Entertaining


Many decades ago, meals were generally enjoyed in a formal setting. Today, most people are either so busy that they are lucky to eat half a meal standing at the kitchen counter or they are so laid back that they are content to just find a comfy spot on the floor or sofa. If this sounds like you, this is perfectly fine. However, if you want to set a formal table for guests you may not know where to even begin because it's not something you do every day. These tips will help you set a table sure to impress your guests.

Start with the Table Cover

If you have an absolutely gorgeous table, then you might not want to cover it up. If you do use a table covering, choose one that inspires the palate and complements the occasion. For example, a floral print is perfect around Easter while a lacy tablecloth is ideal or an intimate setting. Whether you use a table covering or not, you may want to also add a runner. This is a narrow covering that runs the length of the table, right down the middle.

Proper Place Settings

If you have your grandma's silver, but you are not quite sure what to do with it, you are not alone. Many people do not even know which side of the plate gets the spoon or fork.

  • Stemware goes above the dinner plate, just to the right.
  • Bread plate sits above the dinner plate, slightly to the left.

  • Flatware is in line with the bottom of the dinner plate.

  • Flatware is laid in order of use, forks to the left, and knife and spoons to the right.

  • The number of utensils is dictated by the number of courses. For example, you don't need an appetizer, salad, and dinner fork, if you are serving soup as an appetizer. Your forks will start with the salad one.

Create Ambiance

Purchase a bio fuel fireplace for the table to create the best ambiance. These ventless pieces offer a warm, cozy, realistic flame that won't compromise air quality. You can place a bio fuel fireplace for the table on the actual dining room table as a centerpiece, or on a side table.

Using China

If you are buying your first set of china, buy a pattern that is easy to mix-and-match with others, so as your needs change (or if something breaks) you can expand. White china is excellent as a base. Then you can buy a print for bread plates, dessert dishes, soup bowls, etc. This assortment creates a table far more interesting than using one pattern for every piece.

Get Creative with Centerpieces

Even if you use a bio fuel fireplace for the table as your centerpiece, you can add a small element on either side. If you put the fireplace on your side table, then you will have more creative flexibility for your centerpiece. A few elements that create an intriguing display either in a vase or dish include manzanita branches, bamboo, fresh flowers, seashells, pumpkins and gourds, shelled nuts, natural or painted rocks, twig balls, cacti, vintage items, and clear hurricane jars filled with just about anything.

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  • Brady Draper