A PERFECT TABLE
A perfectly set table is the best welcome you can offer to your guests. A beautiful set of table linen conveys your sensitivity, your aesthetic and creative taste, and also your practical sensibilities. Here are some useful tips for an ideal setting to create the right atmosphere and to enhance your every meal.
It does not matter what shape of table you have, but it must be big enough to seat your guests comfortably, bearing in mind that each person must have at least 50–60 cm of space in which to move.
A nice centerpiece is always a good idea for your perfect table setting. On a spring or summer occasion, fruits and flowers full of color and scents are ideal components, or if you are on or near the water, stones, woods, and shells make nice decorative elements. In autumn choose colorful grapes, apples, pomegranates and other fruits combined with leaves and wildflowers. In the middle of winter, dried fruit and winter berries look great with pinecones and cinnamon sticks. Whether you have your centerpiece made by a floral stylist or enjoy making it yourself, always keep in mind that it must be low enough that your guests can see each other and engage in conversation. In the evening, especially during romantic dinners, candlesticks make an evocative addition to your centerpiece. Make sure, however, that the flames are not at eye level.
You can also create beautiful placeholders to match your centerpiece, to let your guests know where they are to sit.
A beautiful tablecloth is the foundation of a perfect table setting, and it is important to choose a suitable color. Neutral colors are best for a formal occasion, while a fun get-together with family or friends may be enhanced by brighter tones, provided that they go beautifully with your room décor. Well-ironed linen or cotton are ideal for both occasions and make a great base for your dressing.
Your tablecloth should not be too short or too long—the right drop is 20–30 cm for a casual meal, and up to 76 cm for formal dining. If you have a fine table and are serving hot dishes, you might like to lay out a protective cloth under your tablecloth to prevent your table from heat damage or scratches.
For elegant occasions, choose napkins of the same fabric and color as your tablecloth, while for informal meals, you might like to choose napkins of different colors, but always of the same fabric. According to the rules of etiquette, napkins should be folded in the center of the place setting or to the left side of the plate, but never under the cutlery!
Artistic folds are not recommended for hygiene reasons and etiquette. Choose a triangle or rectangular shape—simplicity is always synonymous with elegance!
Etiquette requires a fork for each dish served to be laid on the table. The forks must be positioned to the left of the plate with the tines upwards, and knives to the right with the blade facing inwards. The soup spoon must be placed to the right of the knife, while dessert silverware is laid horizontally above the placemat, the fork with the handle facing to the left, while the knife and spoon with the handles facing right.
For a chic table it is important to choose your dishware carefully—you will need a complete set that goes with your linen, silverware and drinking glasses. Always lay out your dishware in the reverse order to which they will be used, with a small plate or soup dish for appetizers on top, or a larger dish or plate if you are starting with a first course.
Etiquette dictates that drinking glasses should be placed above the place setting on the right. You will need at least one glass for water and one for wine, but never put more than four at each place setting. Drinking glasses should be clear glass or crystal, and make sure that the tallest drinking glass is farther back than the lower one. Rounded drinking glasses should be put out for red wine, while narrower ones are fine for white. Champagne flutes should be placed behind those for water and wine glasses. Make sure your drinking glasses are placed the right way up, never rim down.
OTHER TABLE ACCESSORIES
For formal occasions you should provide salt and pepper shakers for every two place settings, while each guest should have their own bread plate to the left of their plate, outside the forks. If the occasion is informal, on the other hand, one condiment set should be fine for a small gathering, and the bread can be brought to the table in baskets. Water should be served in an elegant jug.
Your table should now be ready for the perfect meal!