Tips for dressing the perfect dinner table
Set the table and the scene with these clever ideas and creative inspiration.
Hosting a dinner party can be a daunting prospect - the cleaning, choosing the menu, the guestlist and ensuring everything is cooked to perfection can take weeks of planning. But the fun part is setting the table - select a theme to carry through from the placemats to the vases and the water glasses. Choose just one element, such as a seasonal flower or ingredient, or a colour that you love, and build the look from there, adding drama by using different heights and levels, as well as varying patterns and textures. Create a warm, welcoming vibe with a perfectly curated table setting by following these easy tips.
The minimum tableware includes plates, knives and forks, and water and wine glasses. In order to really create an impact, include napkins or serviettes, serviette rings, and candles and candle holders. If you’re serving bread, starters, salads or dessert, add side plates, butter knives and spoons. Create contrast with a table runner, which works double duty protecting your table from scratches and heat while also showing off the timber surface. Don’t forget a bowl or vase piled high with blooms, either freshly plucked from the garden or collected from the markets. Long stems of greenery and flowers can be laid horizontally down the length of the table to create a lush and wild effect.
Keep the look uncluttered with just one wine glass per guest, as well as a jug of water and water glasses on the table. Serving dishes in the middle of the table will create a sense of plenty and generosity, and give sauces and condiments a stylish edge by decanting them into bowls. Do away with white linen in favour of a playful vintage cloth or patterned table runner, and add colour and energy with hand-picked posies of fresh blooms dotting the length of the table.
Build up from the linen tablecloth, placemats, dinner plates, side plates and silverware (your silverware will vary depending on what you’re serving). Then add candlesticks or holders, flower arrangements and placecards, keeping platters in the kitchen or on the sideboard to keep the table free for decoration. Fold napkins over the plates or secure with a ring or ribbon.
Table setting theme ideas
Organic textures and blue and white stripes will pop against a natural timber table. Driftwood, rope or nautical pieces will look beautiful in the middle of the table. Lanterns and candle holders will add a sense of romance.
Dinnerware in bold shades of fresh spring colours will make an impact, while richly patterned floral prints are a sweet addition in the form of napkins and placemats. Fill bowls with colourful fruit or blooms for the centrepiece.
Black and white are a timeless combination. Charcoal cutlery and white napkins are an effortless pairing atop an oversized white dinner plate, allowing the vibrant colours and flavours of your food to take centrestage. Soften the look with a simple arrangement of in-season stemmed blooms or greenery.
Pair muted sage napery with organic neutrals and hand-finished bowls and vessels to create a rustic look. Piles of greenery and dramatic boughs from the garden or market will set the scene.