How to set your table like a dinner party pro

Hostess with the mostess.

For the home chef, hosting a dinner party is one of life’s little pleasures worth indulging. While most people who are confident enough to serve up their best dishes to their nearest and dearest without fear of judgement often know their way around a kitchen like the back of their own hand, not as many people are adept at the humble skill of styling the dinner table.

Almost as important as the food itself, a beautifully arranged and styled dinner table will take your party to the next level and leave guests impressed. Here are out top tips for setting up your table like a dinner party pro.

1. Pick the mood

The mood might be happy and bright for a summer’s day or moody and romantic for an evening dinner. Whatever the occasional, pick a ‘feel’ or ‘mood’ that best describes your dinner party.

2. Pick the colour palette

Now you’ve selected a mood or theme, it’s time to pick a colour palette. A spring girls brunch might conjure up images of pink glasses, cream napkins, and dinnerware with pale green accents. A late-night winter dinner might call for a tablecloth in black with crystal glasses, dark green stoneware and dark floral accents. Be as brave, bold, or restrained  as you like. When in doubt, stick to neutrals and classics such as white, cream or navy.

3. Choose a centrepiece

Choosing a centrepiece for your dinner party is a personal choice. Flowers are lovely for any occasion and work well when worked into a wreath-like shape, with a candle or two in the centre for mood lighting. An eye-catching timber cheeseboard dressed with cheese, berries, dates and other foods in dynamic colours also make for a beautiful yet edible centrepiece. Seasonal occasions such as Christmas or birthdays may call for themed runners or decorative objects. The centre piece is an opportunity for you to be creative. 

4. Arrange your dinnerware

Layering small plates upon large ones (especially if they’re different colours or textures) is a quick and easy way to get tabletop glamour. Ensure each setting has a glass and cutlery.

5. Place settings and name cards

If your dinner is to be a formal occasion name cards may be necessary. Hand-written place cards on heavy-weight and texture card is a timeless option. When it comes to placemats for each person, don’t be boxed-in by ideas tha placemats must be purchased. Cuts of wallpaper or fabric can stand in as a place mat and look much more expensive and dynamic.

6. Napery

Linen napkins are a must for any dinner party that wishes to feel professionally styled. Affordable from many different retailers and available in a range of colours, linen napkins are a lifetime investment that will serve you for years to come provided you care for them correctly. However, there are myriad disposable options with adorable prints and patterns available these days, try Big W, Spotlight or Lincraft for products. Try arranging napkins on each plate, decorate with a spring of lavender or thyme tied with twine. Small touches or cuttings from the garden can take a table from zero to hero in no time.

7. Add the final touches

Now your table is complete it’s time to add the finishing touches to your professional styled dinner party. Pick one of Spotify’s many dinner party playlists or create your own on an iPod or phone. Alternatively, have a few CD’s stacked and ready to go by your media player to keep the mood going through the dinner

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