The In's and Out's of Place Settings

With all of the celebrating that has been going on, I thought this was an appropriate topic to post about. I hope you will find this information useful in any event that you may be setting a table for: Dinner party, Engagement party, Christmas party, new years party, dinner with friends, wedding, whatever you feel like celebrating! Of course most of us will never set the table at our receptions, but it’s important to know the difference between the formal and informal place settings for event. Your table setting should continue to reflect your theme and formality to ensure a consistent and beautiful event.

Now this is a fairly basic way to set a table. Depending on what part of the world you are in it can vary. Place settings are a great way to personalize your tablescape, even when following the “rules.”

  • A informal meal offers a chance to relax and have a little fun, so all you’ll need is the basics. Take the opportunity to show a bit of personality by mixing and matching textures, patterns, and colors. This table features a patterned salad plate on top of a contrasting dinner plate. A charger isn’t required for such a casual setting.
  • The flatware aligns more or less with the bottom of the dinner plate.
  • No matter the occasion, make sure the knife’s blade points toward the plate. “It’s impolite to allow blades to face other diners,” says Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post and the author of Emily Post’s Wedding Parties
  • Feel free to use tumblers in place of wineglasses. It’s OK for stemmed and stemless glasses to coexist.
  • Place salt-and-pepper shakers near the center of the table. If someone asks you to pass the salt, hand her the pepper, too. The pair should always travel together.

  • A formal setting isn’t meant to be overcomplicated or just plain pretty, The order of everything on the table is logical.
  • A charger, or presentation plate , holds a spot for the dinner plate and should be removed after the salad course. In all but the most formal settings, you can forgo chargers, but etiquette sticklers swear by them, insisting guests should never walk up to a bare table.
  • All flatware should be evenly spaced, about a half inch apart.
  • People typically reach for water more often than wine, so the water goblet goes above the knife tip, with wineglasses (red above white) to the right.
  • If space allows, place the napkin to the far left, so as not to disturb the flatware.

Those are the basics, but as I mentioned before, you can get creative in the styling and presentations of each item! Cloth napkins are a must for a few reasons.

1. They look so much more elegant than paper,

2. they are environmentally friendly, and of course

3. they can be folded in many ways to dress up the appearance of the table.

If you have simple plates, one way to jazz it up is with colorful napkins and napkin rings. You could use vintage jewelry to make your napkins look simply elegant. I just love these images I found at Leslie Arna‘s blog site.

Ribbons, twine, broaches, bracelets, flowers and feathers make great napkin holders, you just need to be resourceful and scavenge for the perfect item!

Place mats, chargers, and table runners can also add some drama to your table scape. A pretty table runner as shown above can serve as both decoration and place mats.

For a little French-bistro flair, turn a colorful dish towel into a shared place mat.

Here are some less formal yet fairly fun place settings!

A whiteboard makes a clever charger/place card not to mention the perfet recepticle for dinnertime doodling :) love that the silverware is tied together with bells, what great detail.This would be great for a child’s party!Even a casual setting can have a hint of drama, here supplied by geometric patterned salad plates

Don’t be afraid to get playful with seating arrangements by using alphabet magnets to mark each guest’s spot.


It is all about the details. A little goes a long way :) here are a some of our favorites :)

Place Cards: Refreshingly different place cards for summertime entertainment: personalized flags anchored in zesty limes.

Make place cards that are favors too, like this one using an inexpensive seed packet. Great for a luncheon with the girls in your garden!

Surprise guests with small treats that act as both placeholders and favors.

Why not utilize what is already available. A fork makes a great Place card holder!

Menus: Awning-striped “menus” add a bright, summery note.

Ideal for windy outdoor dining, printed rubber bands prettily secure napkins and silverware to plates.

Keep in mind Simple variations on a color are an easy way to pull together any table!

Inspirationally Yours,


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