The comfort of your guests should be top priority when preparing a formal or casual table setting. Each style has its own guidelines to follow but your goal should be to have a table that is attractive and comfortable for you and your guests.
Here are some guidelines to follow:
- To avoid overcrowding, allow 24" to 30" for each setting. Place settings should be 1" from the edge of the table, and avoid centerpiece arrangements that obstruct the view of guests.
- Do not place items such as coffee cups, tea cups, and/or dessert plates on the table if it crowds your guests. It is appropriate to bring those items to the table after the main course has been cleared and dessert is served.
- If a shortage of place settings is a problem, mix in pieces that do not match. Mix and match place setting has become a popular trend.
- When deciding on a table centerpiece, keep it low. Large, tall centerpieces obstruct the view of your guests.
- Choose an atmosphere that is appropriate for your gathering, an atmosphere that compliments your meal and encourages conversation.
The different types of table settings do not require different tableware. Just because you are setting a formal table does not mean you have to have expensive china. The important thing is that the tableware fits into its surroundings and that the tableware, tablecloth, napkins, centerpiece, and other accessories complement each other and looks well together. Following basic guidelines will help you end up with a table setting that is pleasing to all.
Formal Dining Table
- Lay cutlery in order used, from outside to inside.
- Save space by placing the dessert spoon and fork at top of table setting. If table seems too crowded, bring when serving dessert.
- Glasses are at the top right corner, wine glass placed above tip of knife.
- Three goblets are set at a formal dining arrangement: a water goblet (left), white wine goblet (top right) and red wine goblet (above tip of knife).
- Napkins can be placed on dinner plate or to the left of forks.
Informal Table Setting
- This less formal option provides more space for guests around the dinner table.
- Dessert spoon and fork are optional and can be placed above the dinner plate.
- Bread and butter plate is optional and can be placed above the forks on the left.
- Two goblets are set at a casual dining arrangement: a water goblet (left) and one wine goblet (above tip of knife).
- Napkins can be placed on dinner plate or to the left of forks. Paper napkins are appropriate for a casual setting, folded and set to the left of forks.