1. Give yourself time to prepare
Think through the sort of dinner party experience you want well in advance – for example: who is coming? Will there be kids at the table? What food do you plan to serve? It can be a good idea to tailor your choice of tableware to the guest list. A guest list of adults can sometimes allow you to be slightly more sophisticated and creative with your table settings, while dinner parties with children can often require a greater focus on practicality. Where children are involved spills can often follow, increasing the need for easy laundry options. Anther crucial point to consider is whether guests will serve themselves at the table from pots and dishes, or if each course will be plated up and served individually.
2. The beauty of fabric
Fabrics create an inviting and often soft feel. They take the edge off of anything stark or pared-back. There are countless rules of etiquette surrounding how tablecloths should be placed, which measurements to follow, and how the tablecloth and china should be harmonious. For example, the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies in Stockholm City Hall use the same linen and china every year, the tablecloth serving to emphasise the unique colour of the china. For more informal home table settings, however, guidelines and precision aren’t as important; what matters more are the overall impression and making guests feel at ease at the table. By using different textures, colours and layers, the hostess can build an exciting tablescape that feels different every time.
3. Sometimes it’s best to think practically
There are six guests coming to your party, you say? In that case have eight or more napkins at the ready. Napkins can get dirty early on in the dinner, and no one wants to sit around with a sticky piece of fabric in their lap, so discretely replace your guests’ napkins where needed between courses. If guests are serving themselves at the table, it can be a good idea to put out placemats that go with the tablecloth. This frames dishes nicely, and simplifies cleaning and care. The HEDVIG table series, available in a range of popular colours, makes colour-coordination easy. If pots and dishes are to be put on the table straight from the oven, it can be useful to have some fresh, clean pot holders at the ready. We often forget these small touches, and at the last minute are forced to pull out kitchen accessories that have seen better days.
4. That little something extra
Many guests like to see a small personal twist – for example a place card with a short rhyme about that guest, or even a well-written compliment. It can be great to keep place settings consistent and identical, but an eclectic, mismatched mix can also be very appealing. Things don’t always have to be perfect. Like many others, we are big champions of candlelight and beautiful flowers. However, one thing to bear in mind is that guests will want to see each other, so tall plants and candelabra are to be avoided in table settings.
For more tips and styling ideas, take a look at some of our older articles under Editorials.
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