Whether you’re throwing an intimate family dinner, hosting weekend brunch, or pouring your morning cup of coffee, setting the table instantly elevates the occasion. Designing beautiful table settings, no matter the occasion, may seem complicated at first, but with our tried-and-true tips, choosing table linens and dinnerware sets will soon come naturally. So, whether you’re looking for inspiration on themed table settings for your next party or want to start celebrating the small things like we do, let’s deep dive into how to design your next table setting.
What is A Table Setting?
A table setting refers to the way a table is set with tableware, like utensils, dinnerware, and table linens. In front of each chair is what is known as a place setting for the individual guest at the table. Table settings can refer to the everyday setup of how you decorate your dinner table or the elaborate themed dinners we love to arrange. Table settings can be as complex as you want, spanning all sorts of tabletop accessories, from dinnerware sets to serving platters to beautiful serveware.
Setting the table may seem like another household task, but we value the importance of decorating our tables with serveware and dinnerware sets for meals, whether it’s for a special gathering or a table for two. Setting the table is more than deciding which serving platter looks best with which serveware - it is what ties a gathering together.
- Sets the tone
- Shows your guests you care
- Enhances the presentation
- Setting the Table Sets the Tone for Your Event
We love designing table settings because they affect the entire tone of the event we’re throwing, and the options are endless. Choosing to go simple with colors and coordinating dinnerware sets can feel timeless and upscale, whereas using creative combinations of color and our mix-and-match dinnerware set styles can feel more eclectic and maximalist. Researching the different types of place settings and ways to present serveware can set the vibe of how you want guests to feel.
- Show Guests You Care with Table Settings
Putting in that extra effort to fully set the table will show every one of your guests how much you care about their presence in your home. We love taking the time to design and create a table setting that will make our guests feel appreciated and wanted as soon as they sit down for a meal. Encourage them to linger around the table with your inviting tablescape.
- Setting the Table Displays the Meal
Setting your table with dinnerware sets and serving platters will display all the hard work that went into cooking up each side and main course. Serving platters, like our Blush Layered Arabesque Square Platter or the Signature White Ruffle Skinny Tray are the perfect centerpieces for everyone to admire each part of the meal before it goes to their plates. Table settings are an elegant and elevated way to show off your food for any event.
The table setting will also bring ease to the host, as each dish can be carried to the table in serving platters as they come out, as opposed to serving individual plates in a different room. Save time and energy and watch your guests’ eyes light up as they see a beautiful spread of food displayed with the table setting.
Are There Different Types of Table Settings?
Yes, there are traditional ways of setting the table for the different levels of formality gatherings can have. Think of these as a starting point when it comes to drawing inspiration for table settings in your home. Setting the table can be thoughtful for any moment or event, whether that's enjoying a cup of coffee and a pastry in the morning or dinner with your in-laws. Setting the table with serveware in different ways can reflect the occasion.
But don't feel limited to these, feel free to design your own style and table setting. Use these three as a starting point to understanding silverware rules, the type of glasses needed for different meals, and which dinnerware set or serveware to use, but feel free to let your creativity drive how you set your table.
3 Traditional Table Settings
Basic Place Setting
For a basic table setting, place the plate in the center. Fold a napkin in a simple triangle and face it away from the plate, putting it on the left-hand side. The fork lays on top of the napkin, the knife is set to the right of the plate, and the glass is placed above that. Voila!
Casual Place Setting
Casual place settings are slightly more elevated, with the plate in the middle and a cloth napkin lying on top of it. A bread plate with a bread knife will be set in the upper lefthand corner for appetizer time, with a water glass and wine glass in the right-hand corner. As for serveware, silverware on the left side will be a salad fork on the outside and the dinner fork on the inside, and on the right side will be a teaspoon furthest from the plate, then a soup spoon, and finally, a dinner knife on the inside of the plate.
Formal Place Setting
The most formal of the three requires a serving plate in the center topped with a cloth napkin and name card. The same bread plate and knife will go on the upper left side, and a cup and saucer will be on the far-right side. A water glass, white wine glass, and a red wine glass sit in a triangle on the upper right-hand side for drink options, and a dessert spoon and fork sit above the plate. For serveware, silverware on the right will be salad fork on the outside and dinner fork on the inside, and on the left side of the plate will be a teaspoon furthest away from the plate, then soup spoon, salad knife, and dinner knife.
Should You Set Your Table Every Day?
Setting the table every day is not traditionally required, but we love to celebrate the small moments, and to us, that can mean having a table setting in our home at all times. It may not always be formally arranged, but having a tradition of a simple placemat and specific serveware, dinnerware sets, and glasses helps us appreciate each meal. Include your kids to teach them this important life skill and implement this practice in your home.
7 Tips for Setting the Perfect Table
Styling a table setting may seem daunting at first, but we've learned the best tips and tricks throughout years of celebrations to help you learn how to set your table with the best dinnerware sets and serveware with ease.
- Consider the occasion
- Find a theme
- Color schemes and textures
- Table linens
- Mix or match
- Set the table early
- Don't forget small details (flowers, place cards)
- What Kind of Table Setting Fits Your Occasion?
When we're planning one of our gatherings, we find it's best to note a few things to plan the perfect table setting; the guest list, whether it's casual or fancy, and what tone we want to set.
Figuring out how many guests will be in attendance will determine the table size, which serveware to use, and how many place settings we'll need. Determining whether we want to throw a casual luncheon as opposed to a grand dinner party could mean the difference between using certain table linens and dinnerware sets that we like to reserve for larger events. Then, deciding on the mood of the occasion will make clear what the next steps are, from choosing décor to the smallest details.
- Find a Theme for Your Table Setting
We love nothing more than gathering our loved ones for a carefully curated themed meal. Feel free to gather inspiration from one of our many decked-out occasions, whether it's a spooky-themed charcuterie gathering or a coastal oyster roast.
Figuring out a theme adds to the overall tone of a table setting. Hosting holiday events? Look at our matching dinnerware sets and serveware from the Christmas In The Village Collection or the autumnal Thanksgiving Collection. Choosing a theme and sticking to it throughout the entire design is one easy way to create a matching tablescape for you and your guests to enjoy. Feel free to make a mood board and choose what descriptors you want your event to have.
- Experiment with Colors and Textures in Your Table Setting
Playing around with a color scheme within your serveware and décor is one of the most exciting parts of hosting, in our opinion. It's when creativity really comes into play! While we have collections that pair beautifully with each other, items like our cloth Color Block Napkins are designed to encourage mixing and matching to create stunning tabletops for every occasion. White is a neutral base color, so try starting with anything from our Signature White Collection, like the stylish serving platter, and find unique color pairings that fit your theme and design.
Adding texture to serveware brings another unique element to your table setting. Something untraditional, like our Fundamental Wood Ruffle Dinner Plates can be layered under a ceramic dinner plate for an added pop of texture. Choose serving platters and dinnerware sets with funky textures and unique accessories, like floral bouquets, to break up a monotonous table design. Look at our Table Settings collections to get more inspiration.
- Set the Base for Your Tablescape with Table Linens
A table setting has to start somewhere, and we recommend searching our gorgeous table linens to begin your table setting. Whether it’s a traditional white tablecloth or one with a pop of pattern, a tablecloth is the base of all beautiful table settings. For some gatherings, you may even opt for placemats or a beautiful table runner instead to help display the serving platters and serveware.
But don't stop there—cloth napkins, placemats, and cocktail napkins are some of the most visually interesting parts of setting the table and where a lot of creativity comes to play. Start with a stunning Deco Gold Scallop Round Placemat as a base, and watch your table setting come to life as you begin placing the chosen dinnerware set and serveware on top.
Cocktail napkins are traditional for events where there's mingling with drinks, where guests can hold their drink wrapped in a cocktail napkin to prevent condensation or set them under their drinks to protect the furniture. Consider using cocktail napkins if your gathering includes a cocktail hour or you're serving drinks at the dinner table. Something like our Citrus Print Cocktail Napkin can bring a summery pop of pattern to any tablescape.
- Mix or Match for an Easy Table Setting
You may be inspired to mix and match colors and products to create a personalized table setting, but an easy hack is to rely on collections of dinnerware sets and serveware that already match. While we always encourage putting your flair on every event, owning a complete dinnerware collection will make every event look put-together and save you stress.
One of our favorite matching sets to bring out for a successful table setting every time is the sophisticated Iris Blue collection dinnerware set, which will have your table covered, from the coffee mugs to the serving platters. Starting with a collection as a base for a table setting is a surefire way to create a stunning table setting.
- Set the Table Early
Our quick-and-easy tip is to set the table hours before the event or even the day before to ensure everything is picture-perfect long before guests arrive. If you set the table with the dinnerware set and serveware beforehand, there'll be no more scrambling around to make sure everything is in the right place, and you can enjoy the spectacular gathering you've created.
- Don't Forget the Little Details in Setting the Table
After you've chosen which dinnerware set looks best on which placemat, there’s one more step we always like to include. One of the reasons we love hosting our celebrations comes from the table accessories. Whether that's handwritten calligraphy name cards for each placemat or handpicking flowers from the garden for the table, adding personal touches to go along with the serving platters and serveware will make your table stand out. Perhaps it's adding thoughtful keepsakes for your guests to take home, like commemorative ornaments to remind you of your times together for years to come. Remember to add personal touches to your table to top off your table setting design.
Hopefully, setting the table no longer feels daunting. Between figuring out the tone of your event and having creative reign over the color scheme of your tablescape, setting the table can be personal and exciting for every event you host. Take a page out of our book and use these seven tips the next time you set your table.