While hosting a dinner is very much about the food you’re serving, a thoughtful and well-decorated table arrangement is just as important. As adults, we’re well beyond the plastic cup and paper napkin stage, though there’s always a time and place (barbecues for instance) for the casual fare. You’d never want your table presentation to cheapen the delicious food you’ve prepared for your guests, so do them and yourself justice by setting a beautiful table. These five essential elements to a well-set table are simple, easy, no-fuss, and entirely impressive to dinner guests.
1. Cloth Napkins
Even if your dinner in with friends on a Thursday night is not a large formal party of twelve, it is still deserving of a touch of class and elegance in the form of a real napkin. Sure, paper napkins (even the fancy ones) are easy and look fine, but there’s something about a beautiful cloth napkin that takes your gathering up a notch. A good cotton napkin, plain or printed with a colorful design, can make dinner feel special and more adult. For an effortlessly impressive touch, roll your napkins and dress them up with a napkin ring. It looks chic and thoughtful, and napkin rings are an effortless tasteful addition to each place setting.
2. More than One Glass
Long ago you upgraded from plastic tumblers at the dinner table to casual glassware, but when hosting guests for dinner, it’s an easy addition to put not only a wine glass but a water glass at each table setting as well. Why both? Not only does it look nice on the table, but it’s a matter of necessity. Guests may be sipping wine, but with dinner, a guest may want a refreshing glass of water, and this way they won’t have to wait, get up or ask you for a glass midway through the meal. It’s just a good hosting tactic to have both.
3. The Centerpiece
Whether it’s the hurricane glass candle holders you always have on the table, a unique floral arrangement, or a seasonal addition such as a pumpkin decorated with fall flowers, a centerpiece brings together the whole table for guests, making it an inviting and pretty place to anticipate a delicious meal. Allow your centerpiece to set the festive mood and spark good conversation.
4. Utensil Selection
There are more tools required at a dinner table than one fork and one knife. Be mindful of what you’re serving to your guests and provide the right utensils, from appetizers to dessert. The basics are always to provide at least one fork, though two is customary if you are offering an elaborate appetizer selection, along with a butter knife (for spreadable items), a spoon for either a soup or dessert and of course if you’re serving a filet or other meat, a steak knife is a necessity.
5. Tablecloths and Runners
Think of the tablecloth or runner as setting the stage for the dinner scene. Go for cloth, like your napkins and use fun prints or quality linens to elevate the atmosphere. You don’t want to do a disservice to your delicious dinner by short-changing table presentation. A rule of thumb with tablecloths is to have no less than 6 inches of cloth length hanging on each side. Otherwise, it’s too small for your table.