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How to Set an Elegant Dinner Table

[fa icon="calendar"] 8-apr-2016 11.41.25 / by Anna Letizia

How to Set an Elegant Dinner Table

How to set an elegant dinner table

An elegant table is not only a valuable set of dishes and cutlery: it is also a mood fostered by selected and precious items

A dinner with colleagues, a lunch for a special occasion, a guest you want to honor: there are countless occasions where you need to set the table in an elegant and distinguished way.
Surely the choice of tableware is essential, but there are also accessories that turn a simple banquet in a special occasion.

How to Choose the Right Tablecloth

If you need to set an elegant table white is the best choice, both for linen and damask linen; at Christmas time red and gold are dominant colors, but it's good not to exceed: in terms of elegance one may argue that  "too much is too much."
If we want to give a touch of color to the table, we can do it with accessories – and do not forget that the food will certainly do its part.
Napkins should be of the same color as the fabric of the tablecloth, properly folded to the left of the plate, over the cutlery.

How to arrange the cutlery.

Silver cutlery for special occasions

The first hint of etiquette: first of all, if we own a vintage silver service, this is the perfect opportunity to use it. Knives and spoons are placed to the right of the plate, while the forks on the left; you need to arrange one piece of cutlery for each course. Above the plate the fruit cutlery and dessert spoon should be placed. In the proper order it should be:  knife (with the handle to the right), fork (with the handle to the left) and spoon (with the handle to the right).


Fine ceramic or fine porcelain may be white or nicely decorated; color should be left to underplates.
To learn more about the difference between ceramic and porcelain, download the free ebook.
For each guest, you will arrange a single dish, usually one platter, serving others directly with their respective dishes. If food is hot, the dishes need to be heated in advance.

Precious tableware


Glasses should be three, for red wine, white wine and water; strictly stemware glasses for wine while, the water glass can either have a stem or not. Glasses should be placed to the right of the plate, above the cutlery: from the left should be the water glass, red wine and white wine.
The chalice for the dessert wine may be served at the end of the banquet, or it may be arranged to the left of the red wine glass, or behind the row of glasses.

How to arrange glasses


Underdishes:  have the function of protecting the tablecloth and are exclusively decorative.
In silver or porcelain, they are larger than the dish and may have an edge and worked.
The color of the tablecloth must be the main color used to decorate. The accessories that are then paired should be coordinated with the tablecloth .

Bread dish: should be positioned to the left of the top plate and should already contain a small bun, which should be covered with a napkin.

Fingerbowl:  should be placed on the left, above the cutlery, and it is essential in cases when a particular menu requires you to use your fingers. It can be embellished with a fresh flower, like a gerbera, or a slice of lemon. It should be brought to the table only when it is needed.

Napkin ring: rather than fold the napkin to the left of the plate, you can place a rolled up napkin, using a napkin holder, on top of the plate. There are several options that can be inspired by the theme of the evening or season and one may use small crochet bands, fresh flowers decorations, colorful silk ribbons, Swarovski crystals or simple strands of colored beads.

Table decorations

One or more vases with fresh flowers: it is a classical way to set an elegant dinner table. Vases will be crystal or ceramic or porcelain. They should be precious but not overpower the flower arrangement.
Roses have an aura of romanticism and can be used to make a statement. Colorful gerberas or tulips are less noble yet bring value to the decorative setting.

Centerpiece: if your centerpiece is large with many embellishments you must make sure to place it in the center of the table.  If you have smaller centerpieces they can be placed in several places on the table if they are spaced out regularly. Compositions of fruit and flowers are the most traditional type of centerpieces and can be fresh or ceramic and porcelain decorated.
Looking for an elegant and precious centerpiece? Download our free catalog.

Candles and candlesticks: candles may be white or match the other decorations' main color. Candles come in various shapes and sizes, so depending on the occasion you may choose to use long and thin ones that are classic and stylish or larger ones that create a warm atmosphere. Candlesticks come in silver, ceramic, porcelain or even glass and may hold one candle or many.  The atmosphere created by candlelight is unique and will always complement your table no matter the occasion.

Decorations for an elegant dinner table

Topics: bon-ton, Decorating, elegance, etiquette, Furnishing, tableware

Anna Letizia

Written by Anna Letizia

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