We are officially in full-on holiday mode, friends! And one of the things that seems to loom over our heads is how to set the perfect table for guests. You want to make your space beautiful, but don’t want to buy a ton of things. Plus, you want your guests to be able to sit, chat and enjoy their time at your table. So too many things on the table or fussy centerpieces can make things complicated. Here are some of my best tips for setting a table. Even if you’re hosting just a small group of four like I have done here with my tiny glass table, or a full spread of family and friends. These table-setting tips will make sure your table is ready for the holidays.
Tips For Setting A Table For Dinner Guests
Use A Charger
A charger is such an easy and affordable way to instantly make your table feel more festive. I think keeping it simple in a metallic is the way to go. Or something natural like wicker or rattan is always a good call too and a touch more casual. For this tablescape, I went with gold since my flatware was also gold and it tied it all together.
The great thing about chargers is that they can be used at all your parties. There’s no need to switch them out for something different once you grab a set. That’s why I recommend investing (although they’re usually fairly cheap like this gold set under $12 for 4) in ones that match your entertaining flatware should you have any, or your decor. This way you’ll get more use out of them. If anything, have a dressier elegant set for holidays like the gold and a summer set like something in a natural material for dining al fresco with friends.
No Need For Fancy Plates
You really don’t need to go all out on a fancy dinner plate here. And who has space for multiple sets of dinnerware? I sure don’t! These white ones are a touch fancy, but honestly, my plain white ones work just fine. Once you place it on top of a pretty charger and add a more decorative salad plate on top, no one will really notice the standard white plate.
Add Color & Interest With Your Salad Plate
The salad plate is really the piece here that ties this whole look together and truly elevates it all. If we added another white plate or even gold, this would’ve been a little blah. But the navy with the floral texture to it was really the highlight of the table. These are great to have for a salad plate and also a dessert plate so stock up on them! I love the moody deep hue it added to the table. It really pulled the whole look together.
Upgrade Your Flatware
And when I mean upgrade, I’m not saying you have to spend a ton here. Gold flatware is definitely hot right now and you can thankfully find it at Target at really great prices like these. I think they add such an elegant touch to a table. I picked my set up YEARS ago at West Elm before the more affordable options were available. But clearly, this trend is here to stay as everyone is getting in on the look. You can even do a black set like these which I think is very chic!
Add A Great Glass
You don’t have to change out ALL your glassware here, but adding either a nicer wine glass or water glass is a nice update. We went with more gold and used a pretty gold striped water glass to set the table with. Keeping the wine glasses simple was perfectly fine!
Add A Fun Napkin
To tie this entire look together, I added a hunter green and gold napkin for the table. They tied in the gold and the greenery from all the florals. For me, I think the napkin is the most stressful part of setting and coordinating a tablescape. Just keep in mind your color scheme and vibe. This was an elevated and elegant table with lots of jewel tones so this napkin played perfectly into that.
Include A Name Tag
Every plate should have a name tag of some sort. I think it’s such a nice personal touch. Plus, my favorite dinner party tip is to put name tags down to separate couples and BFF’s. It forces you to mingle with new people and keeps conversations going. If you just sit with your significant other, or lean on your bestie for comfort, you won’t make new memories with new people! If you’re doing a small gathering though, you can simply place cheerful words instead of name tags. These vintage glass vases and name tag holders were so unique and a great way to display a flower and “gather” at each seat. PS these flowers are called Pink King Proteas and they’re just so darn cool!
Be Careful With Centerpieces
Centerpieces don’t have to be fussy at all. The only real tip here when it comes to adding a centerpiece is to be mindful of the height. You won’t want to block anyone’s view while they sit across from one another. Make sure it is below eye level. You can add various heights and interest, but make sure the majority of it is below eye level for great conversation.
Since my table is only set for 4, one beautiful arrangement was all we needed for how much space was left. Should this table had been bigger, we could’ve added some greenery and candles to expand on it. Mixing in different items like candles, votives, plants, greenery and these pomander balls is a great way to take the buffet pieces into the centerpiece so that it all works together.
What To Include In A Table Setting
Depending on what you’re serving, your dinner table setting may vary ever so slightly. You may want to add a butter knife and plate, or multiple wine glasses depending on if you’re serving white and red with dinner. But a general rule of thumb for a basic table setting for the holidays is to include the following.
- Dinner Fork
- Dinner Knife
- Dinner Plate
- Salad Plate
- Water Glass
- Wine Glass
- Place Card
If you’re serving dessert at the table, you may want to add a dessert fork or spoon. I always serve desserts more casually and keep a pile of dessert plates and forks near the dessert spread. Then I just easily pull it all over once dinner is over.
AN INDIGO TIP – The fork always goes on the left. The way I remember this is there are 4 letters in FORK and 4 letters in LEFT. I have to say it every time I set a table, but it works!
Photos by Hannah Lozano // Flowers by ATL Petal Peddler // Styling by Jaime Roberts
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