- Give some honest thought as to what you feel you can achieve as host, without giving yourself so much to do that it becomes unenjoyable. Considering the sort of menu you are planning might help you to decide the degree of formality you wish to include on the table.
- What number of guests are you setting the table for? It might seem obvious, but checking that there is enough cutlery to eat with, plates to eat from and glassware to drink from is key. Oh, and chairs to sit on…
- Depending in which order you host your Christmas celebrations, laying up the table the night before can really add to the anticipation (and your sense of organisation!).
- Leave space between guests, but don’t spread them out so far that they can’t pass things to one another.
- Never place candlesticks or centrepieces in the way of eye lines – your guests need to see each other to share in the experience.
Dinner plates should sit in the centre of the place setting.
Side plates always go to the left of the dinner plate, with a butter knife sitting on top of the plate.
Bread and Butter Plate
This small round plate, commonly called a side plate, should be set to the left of the forks. It can also be placed slightly above the forks, as long as it remains to the left of the dinner plate. Place a small butter knife or butter blade horizontally over the plate, the blade facing to the left.
Only set the table with cutlery you will use as part of the meal being served. Place your cutlery on the table in the order of use, starting from the outside and working inwards with each course.
Forks should be set to the left of the plate, with knives placed to the right, blade edges facing inwards. Soup spoons should be placed on the right of the knives. An oyster fork is the only fork placed to the right of the setting, if it is to be used.
Place the dessert fork and dessert spoon above the plate, with the fork prongs facing right and the spoon bowl facing left.
Glassware should be set above and to the right of the dinner plate with a red wine glass, a white wine glass and a water glass.
Glassware and Barware
There's plenty of specialist cutlery available if you plan on serving something a little different. Steak Knives, Pastry Forks, Oyster Forks, Lobster Picks, Snail Tongs can all be added to the formal table setting. All of these are available in the Radford Cutlery Range. Always remember to place them in order of use. However, remember to only set the table with cutlery you will use.
Serveware and Condiments
Finally consider any serving utensils you may need and either place them in the centre of the table, ready for when food is served or where ever the food may be served if you are considering a grazing-buffet style affair. Also make sure you have salt and pepper mills on hand too, placed in the centre of the table or where ever food will be served.
Nothing says 'special occasion' more than a crisp tablecloth, although the surface of a treasured table can sometimes be enough. If you do use a tablecloth it should fall at least a foot below the top of the table but not be closer than 15cm to the ground.
Before spreading the tablecloth, it's a good idea to lay a table protector over the table.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to napkins. Either fold a napkin in half and place it to the left of the plate, underneath the forks, or fold napkins and place in the centre of the dinner plate. Place cards and other decorations add to the sense of occasion.
Celebrations are a time to make memories, fondly reminisce, and begin traditions of new. Gathering your favourite pieces, some new, some old, to create a relaxed and welcoming dining experience is all a part of the process. Christmas is the perfect excuse to be a little playful, to add a dash of personality to your decoration and a touch of theatre on the table.
Experiment with name labels, do they need to be written? Are there old photographs or belongings of guests you could use instead?
Do you give table presents? It doesn’t need to be much, a token of your joy in celebrating with your guests. It is a personal touch which will make their experience all the more cherished.
Are there any vintage pieces or heirlooms you can add to your table? Talking points or witty gems? If not, it might be worth making a note of some conversation starters & a few games (for when everyone is full of food, and mirth!).
Elegant, rustic or modern, laying the table properly adds a sense of occasion to any meal. Whatever your style, we have the cutlery and tableware to match and you may find you’ll want to lay the table properly, every day.