Whether you're holding a family meal or hosting a dinner party, a proper table arrangement is vital. Different meals call for different setups, and the good news is, it doesn't take a professional to keep your tabletop simply excellent. west elm has dinnerware and other dining essentials to help you create a magical table. Here's a few tips to help you get started.
The Basics of Setting a Table
When you get down to the essentials, a table need only contain the precise utensils you need for a particular meal. If it's breakfast and your family swears by cereal to start their morning, then the only items you need are bowls and a spoon. If you're a fan of everyone helping themselves to the food straight on their plates in a single course before sitting down, then you can dispense with dish holders and serveware at the centre of the table. Tablecloths, place settings and chargers are also options.
The bottom line is that your table can boast as many tiers and layers as you're comfortable with. From customised china to dinnerware sets, all of your choices are valid if they aid you in accomplishing the eating experience you aspire to.
A Step-by-Step Look at Setting Your Table for Every Occasion
The first order of business is clearing the surface. To grab a quick bite, sectioning off an area will do, but if you're intent on creating ambiance, an empty starting point is an incredible advantage.
Next up is the table cover. Although placemats are efficient and easy to set the mood, tablecloths are another lovely option. Depending on how many people will be eating, you'll need a specific number of settings with even spaces between them.
Style tip: if your home features a square or rectangular table, consider circular or oval-shaped table mats. The visual texture you create by mixing and matching with the geometric element is striking and inviting. If you're going to use tablecloths, pick a colour and pattern that suits your interior design and matches your home's palette.
The biggest step comes next: the plates. The number you'll need depends entirely on the meal in the works. If you're going with a single entrée, then set the dinner plate down and you're done.
The caveat of increasing complexity: for multiple courses, assembling a table with all the plates required to get through the main segment (that is, however many entrées you'll serve) is ideal. The tried-and-true way to achieve this feat is by stacking the plates, which does entail a little creativity. Plan the size of each course to fit in plates that you can stack. You'll be able to maintain exquisite flow by doing this.
Now, for the silverware: common wisdom and etiquette call for the fork to be on the left and the knife (and, additionally, any spoons) to go on the right of each plate. If you're tackling multiple courses, organise the cutlery in the order they're meant to be used. Guests move from the outside in, so the cutlery for the first course should receive the outermost placement.
An often overlooked aspect to table-setting is providing napkins. A simple napkin holder discreetly in the corner will most likely be met with great appreciation from your guests. Cloth napkins, on the other hand, call for individual placement to the left of each plate.
Style tip: If you'd like to give your table an added flourish, you can fold cloth napkins in whimsical forms such as swans.
Finally, it's time to arrange the glasses. Starting on the right side of the plate, keep water glasses closest to centre and specialty glasses for other beverages (such as wine or bubbly) to the right of those.
Bonus tip: place cards are thoughtful and instantly kick your table setting game to the next level.
What's in a Standard Dinnerware Set?
The sets you'll find at west elm usually contain all the gear necessary for a full meal. Salad plates to launch the meal, a dinner plate sizable enough to hold a hearty meal, as well as bowls and mugs that you can use in the same sitting for your drink and dessert, or to save for breakfast or snacks.
The beauty of a dinnerware set is that you're getting a tremendous deal. Not only do you have the convenience of only having to pick one item to cover all of your bases for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they suit whole families as well. Most come with four of each plate, and with proper care and maintenance, are hands-down a household essential.
Formal or Casual: What's the Difference?
For a table to look good, it hardly needs all the trimmings and embellishments of a formal dinner. If you're preparing for a quiet, intimate affair with your family to wind down after a hectic day, your table can and should reflect that. If you appreciate a nice, balanced aesthetic but favor a practical approach, you're in luck. Place settings not only help delineate each person's space, but also make cleaning up after the fact a breeze. A standard dinner set comes with all you need to effortlessly pull off a coherent table setting.
Sometimes, though, you want to go the extra mile and make a meal an event to remember. That's where formal arrangements come into play. Beautiful glassware and stunning cutlery arranged just so sets the mood for a night of polite, refined splendor. Breaking bread is a social staple across many cultures in all the corners of the world. Whether you do it with illustrious guests on meaningful dates or just want to shake things up with the family, there's nothing quite like a shared moment in a beautiful environment.
So, should you play it casual or go all-in formal? The better question would be, why would you have to pick? west elm carries a myriad of options for you to equip yourself for either scenario.