The perfect place setting
Creating the perfect dinner party place setting
Putting together an inspired menu and entertaining guest list may be at the top of your priorities when planning the perfect dinner party, but it’s often the little details like the place settings that help to make an evening truly special. Get inspired with our simple yet stylish place setting suggestions.
Etiquette and basics
Whilst there’s no need to stick to etiquette religiously (or follow any over-the-top fine dining principles!) there are a few basic rules that make it easy to set an elegant, attractive place setting. The 6 golden rules are:
- Food on the left, drink on the right.
- The side plate, if one is being used, should also be on the left of each seat.
- Drinks glasses should be on the right of the place setting, along with the soup spoon and knives.
- The water glass should be directly above the main course knife, with the wine glass to its right.
- Dessert cutlery can be placed on either side of the plate, or in the 12'o'clock position with spoon pointing left and fork pointing right.
- Ensure that a maximum of 3 pieces of cutlery are on either side of the plate at any time.
To preserve space on your dining table, you may want to stack the side plate on top of the main course plate – this creates space and adds an extra dimension of height to the setting.
You can give place settings a sense of summer freshness by topping simply rolled-up napkins with a sprig of fresh herbs or flowers.
Rosemary has a wonderful savoury aroma, and lavender works equally well with its vibrant purple colour and summery scent. Tie a card label around the sprig with string, and write your guests’ names for an added personal touch.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling slightly more ambitious, try folding your napkins using this attractive Rose Fold technique – you can adapt the colours depending on your personal preference. Watch how to perform the rose fold step-by-step in our video:
The finishing touches
Let there be light. If you’re hosting a dinner party in the evening, an excellent way to create a warm atmosphere is to decorate place settings with individual lighting pieces. You can do this by floating a candle inside a small glass holder, along with a small amount of water and a couple of wildflowers. The glass can simply be moved above the plate during service.
Name cards. These can be as simple as printed cards, but don't be afraid to use your imagination. Little homemade party favours that have initials or names on are a great idea to both show people where they are seated and make them feel treated at the same time.
Individual Scrabble racks can be quirky, and lead to after-dinner games, whilst corks from wine bottles can be embellished with ribbon and card to create a quirky placeholder that guests can take home for posterity.