It has been a common culture to have people over for supper and to eat, drink and be merry. As the time has passed, our culture has evolved manifolds since then and so has the art of designing a table. In the medieval times, if someone was seated on the table close to the salt cellar, it meant that they had a position of repute in the society. As a matter of fact, it was a common thing to see people get their own spoons and forks at the dinner. Since there was no cutlery back then, people would generally just sit at the dinner, eat and leave for a place to be cleared later. However, the one hosting the dinner provided napkins for the people to clean before leaving the diner.
It was only in the 17th century that the forks came into being and made a place for themselves at the dinner table. With the advent of forks, more fine things originated like the table linen and other accessories. By the turn of 18th century, the silversmiths were involved in making better designs for the cutlery and delicate kitchenware. It became a culture for the wealthy people to stock up on fine tableware. As a result, the concept of table manners was introduced and table setting became more elaborate.
These days, we choose the settings as per the occasion. The courses are either being served individually or on big wooden boards at once. There is also a practice of barbeque to cook right in front of the guests and serve directly on their seats. Today is the time when you can confidently experiment with your fine linen and tableware the way you prefer. Here are some unique decor ideas to help you get started.
This concept was originated in Russia in the 19th century in which the hosts layout the plates, the glassware and the cutlery that the guests would need during their meals. Courses are brought out one after another and the guests can help themselves in the correct order, that is, cutlery outside in. The most common and formal seating arrangement is women and men seated in alternate seats around the table.
The conventional table arrangement
[Image – Robertson Lindsay Interiors]
Until the dawn of 18th century, the guests used their knives to cut into their food and hold it to their mouth to eat. The cutlery was kept on their left-hand side initially; however, since the fork made its way onto the table, it was shifted to the right and has been there ever since. Knives are always positioned as per the blades facing the plates.
If you are setting the table for a formal event, then you can also lay out an extra set of fork and knives for the salad. However, it is acceptable to keep only one knife that can be used for all the courses. But be sure to remove the knife while serving the dessert.
[Image – REFINED LLC]
When you are dressing up a formal arrangement for the evening, always follow the standard theme of outside in. You should start by placing the fork that is required for each course in the left and gradually place the rest towards the plate. In a formal meal, there are two-three forks, which changed with the 19th century when the guests could use up to four forks during the course of their meal.
To serve the desserts, the fork is placed on the left and the spoon takes the right spot. You can either place them at the beginning of the setting or bring them in later when the dessert is served.
[Image – Janet Paik]
Spoons have always been placed towards the right of the plate and a knife. If the soup is your first dish to be served, then you would place the spoon in the outermost area. If you need separate spoons for tea, coffee or dessert, then place them to the left of the spoon for soup and to the right of the knife.
However, these days for the presentation purposes, many people have started laying out the cutlery as per their size. Although, no one is following the standard rule in the contemporary setting, yet for a traditional one, you must always focus on placement that is based on the outside in arrangement.
Contemporary Setting for the Table
- Polish the Silver
[Image – sarah & bendrix]
A formal dinner is ideal for you to pull out your silverware for the family. You can also step up the arrangement by bringing in your vintage pieces. This can match the individual needs of your guests to make the setting more personalized.
If you want to clean your silver, the best way to do it is add a teaspoon of baking soda in a tray full of water covered with tinfoil. Keep it soaked for 10 minutes and wash it off with warm water. Once they have been dried, just rub with soft dry cloth.
- Placement Technique
[Image – Becky Harris]
If you are using a wooden surface for a dining table, then you can not only add design to your arrangement but also protect the surface from damage in case of a spill. You can also use the mats to place your plates and cutlery and create an interesting mix with new designs. When you are creative with the design, it can add warmth and life to the table. You can also add more fun by mixing two designs at the table.
- Make Cutlery the Focal Point
[Image – de[luxe] design studio]
By placing the plates and cutlery in the centre of the table, you can create an inviting and family like atmosphere in the dining area. People can interact with the dishes when passing them around and help each other serving the food. Keep the decorations minimal to keep the focus on the dishes and the food.
- Make your cutlery Fun
[Image – The Happy Home Blog]
For a more creative approach to the table, you can bundle the cutleries together and also add a napkin along with each set.
However, do keep the palette neutral so that the cutlery can blend in with the rest of the décor. You can also use textured pieces such as burlap for piecing the cutlery together. You can make the whole dining experience more casual by these little eccentricities.
- Add little Gifts
[Image – Rubyellen Bratcher]
You can also personalize the whole event by adding little gifts to each guests seating place. These can be small items like homemade pickles or jam, homemade cookies, fresh herbs from your garden, etc.
Your guests will not only be impressed by the gesture, but they will feel instantly welcomed by the sweet favours.
- Tray Service
[Image – Janet Paik]
This is a novel way of decorating the dining table where each setting can be designed on the tray. They can be left at their seats or brought in as your guests arrive. You can also add the cutlery in the tray itself to create a complete set of dishes or place them outside to make the tray act as table mat. It is very easy to clear the table after the dinner in this setting.
- Mix and Match the Plates
[Image – Anita Diaz for Far Above Rubies]
When we have our guests coming over, we love to give them the most exceptional experience by pulling out our favourite dinner sets and cutleries. However, some of us may be short of space and may not be able to store both just as easily. This is when you can think of adding more designs and patterns to your existing dishes to create a unique mix of the two. You would be able to create an all new set by just simply adding the entrée plate. You can think of interesting ideas to make your dinner set arrangement catchier.
- Adds drinks to the menu
[Image – NewlyWish]
When you have drinks included in your meals, place the glasses on the top right corner of the dinner plate, placed above the spoons and knives. This is the traditional setting for any kind of glass that you would like to be placed on the table, depending upon what you would be serving with a meal.
Pick the glassware that justifies the event and explore different colours and sizes as per their purpose. You can try stem less wine glasses for a change or mason jars for water. Be unique and creative.
Dinner time with friends and family is a special bonding time when we try to give the best experience possible to one another. Regardless of what the setting you choose – be it traditional or contemporary, just try to have some fun on the table and make the dining experience a memorable one for all the guests.