Remember the scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts gets a lesson in fine dining? You probably empathized as you were watching, thinking, “I’ve never known which fork to use, either!” Unless you grew up with Emily Post’s book, Etiquette, on your nightstand or went to finishing school, it’s likely that how to set the perfect dining room table has yet to be part of your education. That is, until now.
Not Your Ordinary Dinner Party
During the holidays many people attempt to properly set their dining room table. Thanksgiving and Christmas give your china collection a chance for a twice-yearly pilgrimage out of the cabinet, and for family heirlooms—like your grandmother’s table linens—get to shine on the dining table.
Setting your dining room table doesn’t have to just be a holiday tradition. Once you’ve committed the proper set-the-table method to heart (which is easy enough to do, as you’ll soon see!), you’ll be tempted to impress even impromptu dinner guests with a beautifully set dining table.
Preparing the Dining Table
Start thinking about your dining room table decorations a few days before the gathering. You’ll want to consider china, glassware, silverware, and tabletop decorations, such as placemats, linens, and centerpieces.
Plates. If you like the looks of plates already set out, then go for it. If this feels a bit premature to you or if you prefer to plate food in the kitchen, then only set out the bread plate (to the top-left of the plate, above the fork, with butter knife placed horizontally across it) and a charger. Chargers are decorative oversized plates that food itself is not meant to be served on. You can, however, serve a first course of soup or salad on top of the charger.
Glasses. Set each place with all of the glasses that will be used for dinner. Place the water glass to the top-right of the plate (above the knife). Set wineglasses to the right of the water glass in the order that they will be used.
Silverware. Set silverware on each side of the plate in the order it will be used, from the outside in. Forks go to the left of the plate; knives and spoons go to the right. The setup looks like this on the left side of the plate, from left to right: fork for first course, dinner fork. On the right side of the plate, from right to left: spoon (if needed), knife for first course, dinner knife (make sure knives’ sharp edges are turned in towards the plate). Dessert silverware should be placed horizontally above the plate.
Tabletop decorations. It’s no longer mandated that you cover your table with white linens for a sophisticated gathering. If your table itself is pretty, forgo the tablecloth in favor of pretty placemats and coordinated cloth napkins. The centerpiece should suit the occasion—if it’s a casual one, greenery from your garden could be a perfect complement to the dining table.
Final check. Once you’ve fully prepared your dining room table, have a seat. Ensure that nothing blocks guests views of each other and that your table setting feels just right.
A perfectly set table is moot if you don’t have a dining table you love! Check out Dinette.com’s amazing selection—the Colby Dining Set in Euro Cherry could be just the glam dining room set you’ve been looking for!