By Kaleb Crafts
Whether you are planning a corporate function, your big wedding day or just entertaining your closest friends for an intimate dinner party, the table setting sets the tone for the event more than almost anything else. Here are a few tips to help you think through this important piece to your event.
The right tablecloth or linen is the first thing down on the table. A clean, crisp, white, linen that hangs just to the floor can be a great fit for any event, but get creative. Bring some colors in, use some unique patterns or fabrics. Don’t hesitate to get out the sewing machine and quickly hem or surge an edge on your favorite fabric. Add a pop of color with a runner or additional cloth overlay. Be mindful of textures and how they go together.
Get creative with your arrangements. Fresh florals can be used in almost any situation and tailored to fit the feel of the party. However, don’t be tied down to florals alone, add in votive candles, tiles, mirrors, beads, etc. For themed parties, use anything from sports caps to wood boxes to tiki torches. One thing to keep in mind is that while a tall and wide centerpiece will certainly be breathtaking at first glance, it can detract from table conversation once guests are seated. If it blocks the view of guests who are opposite one another, it can be bothersome.
Pick a china pattern that fits the event. If you have space and budget, add a charger or service plate to the place setting. The flatware should look cohesive with the china and be set according to common etiquette. An entire book could be written about place setting etiquette, so I won’t go into too much detail. But keep the flatware half an inch from the edge of the table and work outside in, meaning that the flatware should be placed in the order it will be used throughout dinner service working from the outside towards the plate. I love this picture from rootedinfoods.com that shows a traditional formal setting. In most circumstances, you won’t have all of these pieces set and you won’t set more than 3 pieces of flatware to left and right of the plate at a time, but this shows where the appropriate location for pretty much anything you could think of would go.
It is always helpful to think through the evening and plan the additional needs on the table accordingly. Salt and pepper shakers, water pitchers, place cards, table numbers, etc. Keep in mind that the additional items placed on the table may clutter the clutter and detract from the rest of the table.
I hope these quick tips help you at your next big event and remember, life is too short to eat bad food.