When you’re planning a holiday get together or a casual dinner party, you give yourself plenty of time to determine the menu, buy ingredients and cook, but in those last few minutes before spent tossing the salad and doing an outfit change before guests arrive, sometimes the table often gets overlooked. My rule of thumb is to handle the look of the table week before, buy choosing the linens, servingware and decor you plan on using, and even set it up if you can! A properly set table, whether for Thanksgiving or a weekly pizza night, is the foundation for a beautiful and delicious meal. There are age old rules for the specific placement of silverware, glassware and dinnerware, each depending on the formality of your party. While setting a table is a pretty basic skill, it’s an important one to master when entertaining for the holidays.
So have you given much thought to how you’ll set the table for Thanksgiving or an upcoming Friendsgiving? Well there’s no need to think too much about it, once you determine the formality of your holiday, it’s a matter of choosing your tablescape decor and every setting piece you’ll need according the dishes you plan on serving.In our first installment of Place Setting 101 we learned the basics of setting a Casual Table, perfect for a simple Friendsgiving or holiday dinner being served buffet style. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a semiformal place setting that is sure to fit any style holiday party, but today it’s all about the Formal way of setting a table! This isn’t the most formal of settings, no you won’t find it at the Queen’s regal dinner, but our generation is having a love affair with dinner parties, and making a formal table seem just a bit more casual is the way to go. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t bring out your favorite vintage pieces, on the contrary the holidays are the excuse you need to break out those extra special pieces So what is the proper etiquette of setting a formal table??When setting a formal table, you have quite a few pieces to work with. Up to three of each utensil and as many as five different glasses. Dinner plates get layered beginning with a service plate, also known as a charger, then the dinner and salad plate, with a bread plate set on the upper left side. But with any table setting, the placement of utensils is determined by the menu.Here’s a tip…still can’t remember where your forks and spoons go, just remember that you use utensils from the outside in. On the left side, start with the salad fork then work your way inside to the entrée fork. On the right side, you start with the soupspoon and work your way inside to the teaspoon. Utensils above your plate are meant for dessert. When finished with your meal, rest your utensils diagonally across the plate.The formality of napkin placement has definitely changed through the years. It can be placed on top of the plate, under it so that it hangs over the edge of the table, or under the fork. To complete a formal setting, drinking glasses for red wine, white wine and water are set in the upper right corner. To me the most important things to consider when hosting a party and setting a table, after you’ve organized all the supplies needed for you dishes, is to keep the look of the table in line with the feel of your gathering. A formal Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, totally requires you to break out the nice china and silver. The table setting helps to create a mood and makes all your guests excited for the meal to come.
My second go-to rule, is flowers, they’re a must! Head to your local shop and choose seasonal blooms, nothing fancy needed. Bet you wouldn’t believe these florals all came from the supermarket or garden?! The final touch, unscented candles. They create a cozier and more intimate atmosphere. From there, let your creativity roam! This year’s Thanksgiving tablescape was one of my favorites, and it was one I spent very little time styling or stressing to make it look good.I also love mismatching my china and stemware, it takes a table from feeling too formal, and allows it to be more personal and whimsical.
Regardless of how formal or casual your holiday table is, knowing the basics of a formal setting is a must for every host! Pin the easy to remember diagrams or print them, but make sure you have them on hand this holiday season…
Don’t forget to check out our Place Settings 101 : Casual Table post too!