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How to set the perfect dinner table (it’s not as hard as you think!)

It’s the day of your dinner party. The food is organised, the iPod is loaded with all your favourite chill-out tunes, and you’ve worked out who’s sitting where. The only thing left to do is set the table.

Wait, which side do the wine glasses go again? Do they really need that many knives? There’s no room for the water glass!

Before you panic, the modern art of table setting needn’t be like a game of Tetris where every square centimetre is filled with cutlery, crockery and glasses. Here are our simple rules to help:

  1. Keep It SimpleThe first rule of table setting is easy: don’t over-complicate it. If you’re not sure how to use that piece of cutlery that looks like a medieval torture item, the chances are you don’t need it on the table. The most beautiful table settings are clean and elegant.
  2. Formal or Casual?There are two main styles to choose from: a casual dinner and a formal dinner.

A formal setting is ideal for celebration dinners and special occasions. Everything has a logical place on the table. The dinner knife should be placed to the right of the dinner plate, followed by a dinner spoon on the right and the dinner fork to the left of the plate. Etiquette says that cutlery should be evenly spaced, about a half inch apart. And we all know the rule from Pretty Woman – when it comes to placement of the cutlery, you should start from the outside and work your way in.

The water glass should go above the knife tips with wineglasses to the right – red above white. And according to etiquette experts, the knife’s blade should always point toward the plate and not towards other diners.

Another tip for formal settings is a “charger” – or a larger plate that the soup bowl and salad plate will sit on. This is essentially a placeholder and will be replaced by the dinner plate.

A casual setting is perfect for more intimate, family dining, where conversation and free flowing wine take centre stage. You really only need the basics and definitely not a charger.

Once you’ve chosen your setting style, you can tailor it to suit your particular meal. Add a soup spoon here or a fish knife there. Your Private Chef can help with the hire of everything you need – from cutlery to crockery, tablecloths, napkins, and even chairs and tables.

  1. Add a touch of youIt’s your party, so give your table setting some personality! Personalise your table with the pieces you love, whether that’s flowers or other arrangements. If you opt for a centrepiece, remember to keep it low so people can talk to each other across the table.

And if the idea of styling you table makes you break into a sweat – don’t worry. Our event stylist can help you with cost effective packages to add colour and pizazz to your dinner party.

Don’t forget to ask us when booking your catering!