What seven elements are required to set the table for an event? Basically the components are: china, glassware, flatware, linens, menu cards/place cards, flowers, and seating arrangements. You may or may not use all of these components at every event, but it is fun to experiment with different ways to set the table for a particular event and make your guests feel special. Carefully chosen flowers enhance your color scheme. Varied textures of linen or china are just a few touches that can affect the atmosphere of the table.
Serving Plates, Bread and Butter Plates, and Salad Plates
There are so many types of china from which to select! Generally, however, it is a good idea to stay with basic white. A white plate with a small single color band or seal can add elegance while still allowing you to mix and match with other china and linens.
The essential pieces of your settings include large dinner plates (11 1⁄4” or larger), salad/dessert plates, bread and butter plates, cups and saucers, and soup/pasta bowls with underliners. Rather than purchasing a charger or service plate, you can simply purchase twice the amount of large dinner plates.
Another way to enhance your table setting is to acquire unique pieces, perhaps while traveling – whether your trips take you around town or around the world. You would be amazed at how a stunning silver dish or antique glass platter can become a centerpiece when adorned with fresh herbs or finger desserts.
Glassware – Goblets and Beverage Glasses
Goblets, pitchers, cordials, and rocks glasses can all be used decoratively to enhance your table setting. For example, simply place a single blossom or lit candle in each one and you can add a unique nuance to your overall presentation.
It is important that all glassware be clean and free of spots to lend that extra shimmer and sparkle. In a pinch, an easy way to remove spots from your glassware is to soak them in vinegar.
Other enhancements using glassware can be achieved by varying the heights or mixing the colors and textures of the glasses you use, or by presenting them in an interesting way to add overall appeal to your table setting.
Flatware – Knives, Forks, and Spoons
For traditional meal service, the flatware will be set according to your event’s menu. A simple rule for your guests to follow when selecting the appropriate flatware is to begin with the outermost utensil and work inward toward the plate.
Theme buffets, such as picnics, can be dressed up by rolling each guest’s flatware in a napkin, tied with raffia or ribbon, inserted into an appropriate vessel, and placed at each setting.
Have some fun using your imagination when choosing napkins, tablecloths, and runners. All of these items offer an easy way to add color and texture to your table setting.
A tablecloth not only protects the table itself, but can also serve as an effective way to add color and enhance the overall appeal of your presentation. Tablecloths for a standard dining room table should have an 18” overhang, which will come to the top of your guests’ laps.
Napkins can be presented in many ways, utilizing all types of clever and intriguing folding techniques, or you can simply fold the napkin first in quarters and then in half, forming rectangles. When the napkin is placed with its exposed corners facing the bottom left, it will drop open and unfold neatly for use as it is picked up.
Traditionally, the napkin is placed to the left of the plate, but it can also be accordion folded and tucked pertly into the coffee cup, beverage glass, or laid flat underneath the service plate.