Try to plan the table setting to match your menu. When bread and butter are served, add a butter plate to the table. Use separate salad plates if serving your main course with gravy.
Depending upon the occasion, you may want to use a "formal" table setting or an "informal" table setting. For most of us, the need to set a truly formal table is almost nonexistent. With this in mind, we start with a description of an informal table setting - appropriate for most occasions.
tablecloths and place mats (table linens)
Although a formal dinner requires either a tablecloth, at informal dinners a tablecloth is optional. A bare table with place mats is the alternative.
If you don't have enough good china and flatware to create place settings for your guests, you have three alternatives.
- The first is to visit your local party supply store. Most have an extensive collection of formal tableware for rent.
- The second is to create a second table setting at a smaller table with your everyday dinnerware, or use borrowed dishes and place settings.
- The third choice, for casual dinners, is to mix and match.
centerpieces and candles
Candles, if meant to be merely ornamental, are placed on either side of the centerpiece. Or, place one candle above each place setting if they will be used as the only source of light.