Follow just a few simple steps to give your dining table that “wow” factor that makes your guests want to linger for conversation after the meal is complete. It’s all very simple to do once you break it down into layers.
Laying Down Your Foundation
The idea is to layer each of the tabletop elements while adding special details that will give it personality. Begin with your table cloth. Keep in mind you don’t have to stick with the traditional solid color. Layer on a piece of fabric from the fabric store - something with a pretty print or pattern that complements the theme of the evening. This immediately adds interest to the table.
A Proper Setting
Next set each place setting. You can choose to use plate chargers or place mats at this point. This extra touch gives each plate a more defined presence.
Once you begin placing silverware and napkins it’s time to think outside the box. Forget about the age old placement you’ve seen in dozens of etiquette books. Modern entertaining allows you to be creative : lay the napkin across the plate horizontally instead of vertically; tie up your knife, fork, and spoon with ribbon, raffia, or twine; or place the napkin underneath the plate with the end hanging down the front of the table. This makes for a far more interesting visual display.
Name that Place
Another classic touch are place cards. Originally used to direct each person to their seat during large formal gatherings, these little gems are now used for smaller occasions to add another decorative element. Here’s another great opportunity to get creative. Write names on terra cotta pots that hold small herb plants for an Italian dinner (they can also double as favors); write names on a smooth stone for an Asian themed supper, or print out cards using your computer and tie them on to your ribbon-wrapped silverware.
Centerpieces Take Center Stage
Finally it’s time to add in the centerpiece. A large bouquet is a traditional option, but for modern entertaining try something more unique. It’s always a great idea to use flowers, but instead of one large arrangement, try a “runner” of bud vases that hold one or two flowers each. The look is beautiful and the price is more affordable too! Another great option is to fill clear cylinder vases with items that have texture like decorative moss balls, pine cones, dried pasta in interesting shapes, etc. Just keep in mind the season, or your theme.
Classic table settings are lovely for weddings or other formal events, but when it comes to modern entertaining, it’s acceptable and far more interesting to add a little unexpected style!