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how to set and decorate a dinner table

How to set a table

Hosting a dinner party is always fun and a great way to welcome your friends and family into your home. Really impress your guests with the perfect dinner table setting, and the perfect table arrangement. Read on and learn how to set your table to wow your guests.

How to set the table properly

If the etiquette and rules of table setting are not your strongest point, you can learn the most important aspects in no time. Start by laying the plate for the main course, then place the smaller plate or bowl for the starter on top. Lay the cutlery, making sure there is room for it at the place setting. It must not collide with the glasses, which you should lay last of to set a formal dinner table

How to lay the cutlery correctly

The rule of thumb when setting your table, is that the cutlery should always be arranged in the order in which it will be used, starting from the outside and working inwards towards the plate. 

The knife should always sit to the right of the plate, and the blade of the knife should face the plate. However, the rule governing the blade of the knife does not apply to the butter knife on the side plate. In this case the blade should face away from the plate. The dessertspoon, cake fork or cheese knife should be laid above the plate.

How to arrange the glasses for a dinner party

Setting the table with glasses is often the biggest headache. Start with the glass to be used first and place it furthest to the left, so that the guest will work from the outside and in towards the plate. That means the sequence is white wine glass, red wine glass, dessert wine glass and, finally, tumbler. You can place glasses at an angle or in a straight line. 

Decorating the table

Decorations on the table setting should be eye-catching, and be in line with the rest of the style in your dining room. Using a single colour is very effective if you complement the decoration with several shades of that same colour.

You may feel tempted to go over the top with decoration when setting the table, but you will achieve much more if you keep things simple. Remember that the decoration should not take over. There also needs to be room for food on the table.

Table setting ideas using flowers and candles

Flowers add something extra to a table, but be careful to make sure that they are not too tall and dominant, as a huge bouquet may get in the way of guests speaking to one another. Discreet floral decorations in small vases can beautifully decorate a table without causing too much chaos. Use flowers, candles and other decorations that are in season and serve your theme well.

Tablecloth and napkins

Oilcloth is for practical place settings, but a fabric tablecloth can seem more luxurious. The tablecloth should not be too long as your guests should easily be able to get their legs under the table. About 20-30 cm of tablecloth at each side of the table is optimal. If you aren't too keen for a tablecloth, then consider a table runner instead for a fancy look.

Napkins are an important element when laying an attractive table. Paper napkins can be used, but they may not be too suitable if your are planning on serving a lot of courses.

Tablecloths and table linen from JYSK

Name cards and space at the table

If name cards are part of your table setting, place them on the red wine glasses, because they are the highest and the last your guests will use. When setting the table you must make sure that your guests have elbow-room, so that they can eat without knocking one another’s elbows. Allow at least 60 cm for each guest, or more if you want room for coffee cups in the table setting from the start.

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