HOSTING a dinner party or a luncheon can be a daunting task, especially if you’re hosting a crowd who’s particularly critical (think in-laws). While you’re perfecting your balance, adding finishing touches to your ensemble may not be the first thing on your mind.

However, as the saying “you eat with your eyes” goes, visually appealing foods and décor add to the positivity of the entire experience. A delicious meal is turned into an even better memory with the right setting and atmosphere.

Informal table settings can really go any way you’d like it to. Take into consideration the meal you’re serving, whether there is going to be appetizers, soups, or salads. Then decide the cutlery and crockery that your guests will need.

A western informal setting usually has a smaller plate for salads and appetisers set upon a larger plate for entrees. Your cutlery of choice goes on the sides, forks on the left, knives and spoons on the right. Glasses for drinking are normally placed on the right side, further down from the plate.

All these are usually set upon a place mat and topped off with a cloth napkin. However, if you have a beautiful wooden dining table, you might not even need a placemat to begin with.

Here, we have some tips and tricks on how to pair and come up with table settings.

Use multipurpose glasses

Versatile tumblers like these can be used for almost any type of beverage, including alcoholic ones.
Versatile tumblers like these can be used for almost any type of beverage, including alcoholic ones.

Unless you’re going for a formal table setting where you’ll need four different types of glasses, opt for a multipurpose glass instead. A large wine glass is great for serving water as well as alcohol. A small, rounded tumbler is another versatile piece that is great for serving water, alcohol, or any other beverages such as juices and soft drinks.

If you’re serving any other drink apart from water, then make sure you set a second glass on the table for water only.

Textiles are your secret weapon

Salad served on a kitchen towel
Apart from being used as dining napkins, kitchen textiles make great serving attire which can instantly beautify the table setting.

Textiles help soften the look on the table and add texture to the setting. Table cloths are great for adding a seasonal touch to your home if it is a festivity you’re celebrating. If table cloths aren’t entirely your thing, consider getting a table runner or two at the least. You can arrange them to run down the length of your table, or place a couple of them running down the width, in place of individual place mats.

Napkins are also another crucial item to dress your table up with. There are many ways to present cloth napkins on a table, as this handy post illustrates. You can fold them into a rectangle and place them on the plate, place it on the side of your plate under the cutlery, bunch them up into napkin rings, or fold them creatively to stand upright.

If you’re lacking time to carefully fold each napkin you have, simply add a twig of a pretty plant such as bougainvilleas and tie it around the napkin with a jute string. Pinterest is the place to go to get more inspiration on this subject.

Simple = timeless

Outdoor table setting
You really don’t have to go over-the-top. Mixing earthy colours with white crockery, with a touch of colour for decor makes for a stunning table setting.

Just because you see five different plate patterns that you like, doesn’t mean they all go together on the dinner table. Many people make the mistake of mixing too many different designs and patterns onto the setting. Clashing patterns and contrasting colours can work, provided you have a good eye to match them well.

When in doubt, stick with a simple scheme with just two to three colours involved. This look is simple, safe, and will never go out of date.

Pastel colours are always a safe bet to go with, such as lime greens, light yellows and beiges. If you want something more vibrant, opt for a stronger colours like orange, bright turquoises and so on. Pastel colours tend to match well with white while stronger colours go well with stone hues such as beiges and greys.

If you find yourself umming and ahhing when choosing a colour scheme, take a look at your home and pick a recurring colour to build your table setting.

DIY table centerpieces

Apples on pedestal fruit bowl
If you’re running out of ideas, some bright coloured fruit on a pedestal stand makes for a good space-saving centrepiece.

Table centrepieces are underrated. Without having to go overboard, table centerpieces can add a lovely finishing touch to the table setting and the atmosphere that follows it.

There are many do-it-yourself options for table centrepieces. A glass half filled with water and a tealight candle floating in the center is a simple five-minute option if you’re lacking time. if you’re able to stretch your time a little, a few crafty items like crepe paper, fresh fruits, and a jar of lemons might come in handy.

Tip: If you have limited space on your dining table or if you need to accommodate many centre dishes, opt for a centre piece on a pedestal stand to save you table space.

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