So, you're having a big dinner party or just a few of your friends are coming over for a meal. We've got plenty of ideas to help you create a great table setting for your guests.
Choosing Your Table Cloth
Your tablecloth choice will depend on your dinnerware. If you have patterned dinnerware, choose a plain tablecloth. If you have plain, single-colored dinnerware, you can choose a patterned tablecloth.
Be careful with choosing too much color. If you have brightly colored dinnerware, whether it is patterned or not, choose a more subtle and neutral color for your tablecloth.
You might also place a plastic pad under your table cloth. This will prevent stains on your table and reduce clanging from dishes and cutlery.
Creating Your Place Settings
Try adding name cards to your settings. Not only does this take the guesswork out of where to sit for your guests, it's add some more style and personality. People appreciate this extra attention to detail.
Make sure that you have enough space for your guests to sit comfortably. If not, it might make sense to add another table or rent a table from your local party store so that everyone can sit comfortably. It doesn't have to be a fancy table either...just cover it with a nice tablecloth and you'll be all set.
If your dishes are plain white, you might consider charger plates to add a splash of color. But again, if your tablecloth is adding plenty of color, you might forgo the extra busyness.
Assuming your not going completely formal, here are some general guidelines for placing cutlery. Forks to the left, knives to the right and dessert flatware above the plate. Salad and appetizer forks and knives should go on the outside. The cutlery for the main meal is placed closest to the plate.
Glassware goes in the top right of your setting and how complicated you make this up to you. Traditionally, you'll start with the water glass, wine glass and finish with a dessert glass. Unless you have a lot of space at your table, that can create a lot of clutter and most guests will probably not use all those glasses. I prefer to know my guests preferences in advance and place the appropriate glassware at their place setting.
Make sure there are enough salt and pepper shakers and butter trays for your guests to reach or pass easily. If you have a large table, you don't want your guests to have to shout across the table to get what they need.
Don't forget the centerpiece. Try a floral arrangement, tapered candles or something to suit your unique taste.