Table Settings 101
A How-to Guide with Inspiration for Spring
Table setting is an art form, and just like art, there are many forms of expression - none of which are wrong or right. Think of your table as a tableau or canvas where you can layer colors, textures, patterns, and objects to weave your own wonderful stories.
Of course, tabletop traditionalists insist on “The Rules,” from which spoon to use first to what fork goes precisely where. But we are here to tell you what we have learned - after many years and thousands of table settings - there are only three rules that matter:
1. Will your guests feel loved?
2. Do you have everything you need for the meal to function? (For example, steak knives for filet mignon, cream and sugar for tea, etc.)
3. Does your tablescape make you smile? (If even the thought of something makes you happy, the answer is always, “go for it.”)
The most important thing about the art of table setting is creating a beautiful feast for the eyes, because doing so is a love language that everyone inherently understands at first glance. When someone takes the time to set a special table, it is a nonverbal cue to others that they are valued, and that they are invited to stay awhile and engage with those at the table in a meaningful way. The table is not just a place where you serve food, it is the heart of the home. Meals are a connection point, and the busier our lives get, the more important this magnetic space becomes in bringing people together.
If you look at our table setting diagrams here, we invite you to reference the traditional method and the modern day precedent, and then gently (or not so gently) break those rules to suit your own lifestyle. This is not your mother’s table - you get to make the rules and have fun! We find that when it comes to choosing how to create your own signature style, our favorite method is to embrace and honor some of the traditions inherited from childhood, while infusing them with new ideas and making them your own - a unique mix of both. Then they take on a new life and carry on to the next generation, who will reinvent them once again.
Like most great works of art, it helps to start with a white foundation - think of it as a canvas for self-expression! From simple and pure to ornate and decorative, your everyday whites are anything but basic. Is it any wonder most people choose to have white dinnerware?
Last, invest in accent pieces to transform your table, like glassware (sparkle!), linens (texture!), and napkin rings (jewelry!). Having a trove of these accessories to utilize on a whim are a fast and fabulous way to update your look for special occasions and seasonal entertaining. A little clever collecting goes a long way. For example, a small set of beautiful floral dessert plates can add just the right splash of color and romance to your tablescape, for everything from Valentine’s Day, to Easter, to Mother’s Day.
Start with a timeless foundation, then layer your look to curate your own signature style. The perfect mix doesn’t have to match! You are all set for a lifetime of entertaining adventures. Beauty is served.