For the past two years, my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving dinner.  He roasts the bird, and I serve as sous chef and resident table setter.  Given it was a small gathering, I wanted the dining experience to be warm, friendly, and special and dressed the table accordingly.  With the holiday season in full swing, perhaps you too will host one of many upcoming parties or dinners.  If so, set the mood for the evening with a beautiful yet non-stuffy tabletop.   The key is balance, for every formal touch, offset it with a whimsical and casual element.  Here are a few ideas for your next hosting escapade.


To dress the table, opt for a chalkboard table runner instead of a linen tablecloth.  This type of runner is firmer and more attractive than a paper tablecloth and easy to discard when the meal is finished.  Additionally, it’s a fun way to add special notes to guests or better yet, have the guests leave you a parting message.  As for centerpieces, I went with candlesticks.  It’s simple, clean, and doesn’t take up a whole lot of space if you are working with a small table.


For the place setting, I start with placemats.  I am particularly fond of Chilewich which are easy to clean and come in lots of different colors and patterns.  Next come the plates.  I use charger plates as a base and then alternated plain and pinstripe patterned fine china to give it an eclectic look.  As a finishing touch, I used gift tags to write food-oriented sayings like “Nom Nom”, “Bon Appetit”, and “Chow Time” and wrapped them around my DIY cloth napkins  (I’ll show you how next week!) using twine.


The final step is setting up the silverware and drinkware.  Thank goodness for Pinterest, this was my go-to source for setting all the forks, spoons, and knives.  There is no single right way to set utensils, but a general rule I use is to put the pieces that are used first on the outside so that guests can work their way inward as the meal progresses.  For wine, water, and other beverages, it can be fun to use bar pieces like crystal high ball glasses to make drinking water seem more fancy.  A little sparkle goes a long way!

4 thoughts on “A Table Setting For The Non-Stuffy

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