How to set the perfect table in 3 ways

Want to know how to set an Instagram-worthy table? From date night inspiration to the details in decanting delivery, this extract from How to Set a Table will guide you to picture-perfect dining

Whether you’re giving a dinner party for twelve or sharing a takeaway for two, a thoughtful setting can make any meal feel special. Formal or casual, traditional or modern, colourful or neutral, patterned or plain, your table should reflect your style. Trying to keep track of all the rules can seem intimidating. But with a few simple guidelines, almost anything goes. You can mix and match, repurpose pieces, and incorporate vintage finds. Think about dressing a table as if you were putting together a great outfit – personality is always the most important ingredient.

How to Set a Table will help you navigate the nuances of table settings, fill your cupboards with pieces you love, and find new ways to use them in any space. As your tastes evolve, so will your collection. Why not have fun with it?

1. The Casual Setting

1) Dinner plate  2) Napkin  3) Dinner fork 4) Dinner knife  5) Dessert spoon  6) Water glass  7) Wine glass

An informal setting has only a few pieces, and everything that’s needed throughout the meal should be laid out at once. It’s good for family-style spreads and dinners that don’t require re-setting during the meal. As a general rule for any occasion (casual or formal), plates and cutlery should be placed about 1 centimetre apart, with the bottoms lined up about 2 centimetres from the edge of the table. Each person should be given about 60 centimetres of table space to avoid feeling crowded.


2. Date night inspiration

Tea light holders for flowers and candles

An easy way to set the mood and create the most flattering light.

Pretty plates 

Layer different styles – interesting edges stand out against a pattern and colour.

A basket or bowl for bread

Line it with a linen napkin to keep rolls covered and warm.

A plate for butter

Pick a small saucer or tea or luncheon plate if you don’t have a designated dish. Use a butter knife to put a portion onto your plate – never spread butter directly onto the bread.


3. The details in decanting delivery

A runner for smaller tables

Long and narrow, it fits on almost any surface. As an alternative, use tea towels or unfolded napkins as place mats.

Dinnerware as serving sishes

Dinner plates and cereal bowls are just the right size for smaller portions.


Rest them on the edge of your plate when you’re not using them. Hold the upper chopstick like a pencil, between your thumb and index finger, just above the middle. The second chopstick should be parallel, held against your ring finger and the base of your thumb.

More about the book

How to Set a Table

This beautiful guide includes creative ways to style a table - for dinner, a cocktail party, brunch, picnic in the park, and other fun occasions.

Whatever the size of your home or budget, How to Set a Table features stylish, modern ideas for welcoming friends and family in your home.

This pretty gift book serves as a practical step-by-step guide to entertaining - with information on etiquette, place setting basics, centerpieces, mixing and matching, essential glassware, napkin folds, and unexpected ideas for using the great tableware you can find at flea markets. How to Set a Table updates a classic topic for a new generation of hosts.

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