Setting a Perfect Formal Dinner Table

By Prerna Malik – Suite101.com – 06/14/2009 – 9:32pm


Giving a dinner party is always enjoyable. However, when you set the table perfectly and with attention to details, it adds elegance to the overall party effect. Setting a formal dinner table involve a little work, however, the admiration that it will evoke from your dinner guests would be worth it. Here are steps to set an elegant table for your next dinner party.

The Perfect Formal Dinner Table Linen

Every great masterpiece requires a great base. So, to begin with, take out the best table linen. Preferably white or single-colored, and of the best possible quality, linen should be clean, stain-free and starched. Use co-ordinated or matching napkins and place mats. Make sure that the napkins are clean and starched and folded or rolled up, held in place with napkin rings.

Try and co-ordinate the table linen with the dinner set that you will be using. Using bold red colored table linen with a simple, white dinner set and silverware would have an amazing effect as would a white on white setting. So, be experimental and imaginative but don’t put in too many colors or textures, since it would be simply too confusing and overwhelming.

Arranging the Silverware

A perfect dinner table is set with well-matched silverware. Silverware is important not only because it is needed, but also, because using the wrong kind of silverware can ruin the effect of a well-laid dinner table. The kind of silverware that would be needed would depend on the number of courses being served.

The basic rule of dining etiquette is to work your way in with the silverware. So, the arrangement should also follow the same principle. Therefore, place the knives to the right of each plate, with the blade turned inwards. The salad knife would be closest to the dinner plate, followed by the dinner knife, seafood knife, the soup spoon and the cocktail fork.

To the right of the knives, place the spoons. The dessert spoons or fork would go above the dinner plate. Forks are placed to the left of each dinner plate. The first one would generally, be the seafood fork, entrée or dinner fork and then, the salad fork. According to the book Etiquette for Dummies by Sue Fox (For Dummies, 2007) for formal dinners, salad is served as either the third or fourth course and hence, the salad fork is placed closest to the plate.

However, it is important to remember that if you will not be serving so many courses and will just be serving soup or salad, main course and dessert, then there is no need to arrange extra silverware. The silverware should be placed uniformly all around and the distances between each piece should be the same.

Using the Perfect Dinner Table Accessories

Having set the table, step back and review it. Depending on what kind of mood needs to be created, you may want to consider adding candles and flowers to the table. However, neither should be so tall or big that they would come in the way of people sitting on opposite sides.

If it will be a gathering of people meeting for the first time, consider adding pretty and artistic personalized name tags to the place settings. Ensure that the lighting is perfect for the table. The lighting should be soft but not dim and bright but not harsh. Add a diffuser or some incense to keep the air smelling fresh and fragrant.

While setting a formal dinner table may take some time and effort, the end result will be breathtaking and delightful, adding a special and elegant feel to a dinner party. Special occasions and gatherings deserve special treatment and a dinner table set and arranged to perfection would be just ideal.

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