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Whether you’re planning a large event or a smaller social gathering for a special occasion, the table setting is going to be crucial. Not only will this have an impact on the first impression your guests get when they walk into the room but it will also provide the aesthetic foundation for their experience. Setting your table to impress involves focusing on a number of key elements.

Start with the table linen

Depending on your event, the choice of linen can really set the scene. You may be going for a stripped back style in which case high quality but subtle linen will be ideal. Ivory colours are the ‘go to’ for an elegant, low key aesthetic but there are a range of colours available that could support the look that you’re trying to achieve.

Place settings don’t have to be complicated

However, they do need to be uniform and neat right across your tables. Most diners know that, when it comes to cutlery, the right approach is to start on the outside and work your way in. So, starter knives, spoons and forks make up the outermost layer, working inward through fish course and mains. Cutlery for dessert sits above the place setting and if you’re using bread plates these are usually positioned on the left.

Simple napkins work best

A high quality napkin that is simply folded is the best option for virtually every event. Although it can be fun to have origami style shapes this can be difficult to achieve uniformly and if they start to drop before the guests sit down the end result may be less than impressive. A napkin displayed as a triangle or a fan is often decorative enough.

Invest in your glassware

The right glassware can add a real “wow” factor to your table. From vintage shapes to the finest crystal, tables set with beautiful glasses really add to an aesthetic. There are three key glasses that every table needs – a water glass, red wine glass and white wine glass. You may also need to have champagne glasses if you’re planning to toast and liqueur glasses if you’re serving these with coffee.

Consider a centerpiece

Table centerpieces are a great way to reinforce the theme of an event or to make a dramatic impact. You can create a centerpiece from just about anything, including elegant flower arrangements or themed collectibles or art. It’s important to ensure that a centerpiece sits below eye level so that everyone on the table can see each other – and that any fragrance or smell compliments the food and won’t put people off eating.

Bear in mind the serving and clearing

This is usually done from the left of a place setting so make sure you have allowed sufficient space for the servers to do their jobs.

The right table settings will always impress, whether you’re catering for hundreds or just a few. Take the time to find – or hire – the right pieces to give your table the sense of occasion it deserves.

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