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These days, you can pretty much write your own rules when it comes to setting the table, but we’ve gathered a few tips to get you started. The main points to remember are that the table setting sets the tone for the gathering—and it’s an opportunity to showcase your culinary efforts as well as your style.


For casual gatherings, you can keep it simple. Only set out the plates, utensils, and drinkware you’ll need for the meal you have planned. No salad or soup? Leave off the salad fork, salad plate, soup spoon, and soup bowl. If you are serving soup or salad, stack the salad plate and soup bowl (in that order) on top of the dinner plate. You’ll need a napkin, but other linens are optional, although we like placemats to protect your table and add color or texture.


Sometimes, the occasion—whether it’s dinner for two or the holiday family meal—calls for something more formal. For this type of setting, you’ll want to start with a charger under the dinner plate. You may also want to choose a tablecloth and/or runner or fancier placemats, and you’ll use lots more pieces, including butter knives, dessert spoons, and multiple wine glasses, among other things. The diagram shown here can help you position everything correctly, but, as with the casual setting, you should adapt it to your specific needs and style.


Beyond the basics, we can help with other essentials that will not only help you set a beautiful table but will make entertaining easier.