Because the holidays are approaching, it’s time to gather with friends and family to share a meal together. This is the ultimate table setting guide, so that you can learn how to set a proper table, both casually and formally. In addition, I’m sharing how to set up a buffet style meal which is popular with large families and get togethers. But first, here are some tips for styling a centerpiece and place settings on your tables.
A centerpiece is the decoration in the center of the dining table. It’s all about the form! Typically, this includes a vase of seasonal flowers and tall candlesticks which create an inviting ambience for guests. However, I prefer to use unscented candles to allow the food to create the aroma in the room.
In addition, centerpieces during meal time should never block the sight of guests. So, while you may see extravagant centerpiece ideas on Pinterest, know those are not necessarily used when entertaining, but rather for inspiration or staging a home. Therefore, choose a shorter centerpiece while actually hosting a meal. When using real flowers, I have some tips to make your cut flowers last longer.
While you can display flowers in a shorter vase, it’s fun to get creative with centerpieces. For example, our Mexican cheese mold or sectioned dough bowl works beautifully on long dining tables. Simply fill with mini potted plants, pillar style candles or seasonal produce like mini pumpkins, pears or apples for Fall.
A place setting includes a combination of functional pieces that makes dining doable and enjoyable. For example, each one may include a placemat or charger, serving plates, glassware, flatware, and napkins. Depending on the occasion, place cards or favors may be included.
When layering each place setting, use a variety of different materials. Basically, glass or ceramic dishes, metal chargers or napkin rings, table linens, and a few natural elements like wood or wicker placemats create a variety of textures. If using a tablecloth, it’s not necessary to add fabric placemats, both protect the table.
Holiday Idea: Especially at the kids holiday table, I like to make each place setting feel special and keep guests entertained. For instance, cut Kraft paper to use as individual placemats and add a small bucket of crayons at each place setting for the Thanksgiving table. Similarly, for Christmas, place undecorated but assembled miniature ginger bread houses with a small bowl of candies and icing on each place setting.
Learn a few simple ways to fold or display your napkins, here.
Consider the traffic flow of guests when setting up seating and serving areas. Of course, any of the serving stations can be combined on a long buffet table or large kitchen island. However, if you have room, separate seating from drinks and food so that guests aren’t crowded into one area. Therefore, guests getting drink refills won’t have to wait on others to sit down or fill their plate.
In our shop, we have a beautiful selection of handmade risers, cake stands, and serving trays. These are perfect for displaying food for large gatherings or buffet style meals. The varying height will allow guests to see and reach everything easier. Therefore, include the tallest risers in the back of your table.
Clean Up Tip: For wood risers or trays, here’s a tip to make clean up a breeze. First, cut a sheet of parchment paper to the size and shape of the serving piece. Then, place food, like individual servings of desserts or appetizers, directly on top. When done, simply toss the paper. In addition, the paper prevents certain foods, like berries, from staining the wood.