You’ve invited people over for a bite to eat and some drinks. It’s your first time entertaining friends in your home, so you’re a little bit anxious. Clearly, you want everything to go swimmingly, ensuring all your guests are impressed by your hosting process.
So, you’ve spent ages thinking up the perfect menu and getting fun party game ideas for everyone to play. You’re absolutely confident that your party will be enjoyable, now all that’s left to do is prepare the dining table. You can’t lay your table the same way you might if you were eating alone on a Thursday night. Normally, you get a placemat and that’s it, job done. For a dinner party, you have to go the extra mile.
Here’s how you should lay your dining table when entertaining guests:
Start with a tablecloth
Remove everything from your dining table so it is completely bare. Now, you should start the table-laying process with a tablecloth. There are many to choose from, but opting for restaurant-quality tablecloths is the smart choice. Why? Because they are usually one single colour, which looks way better than a patterned tablecloth. They also look and feel premium, which will impress your guests. Plus, they’re easier to clean after, which is always a bonus.
Pick whatever colour you want, and then lay it down on the surface of your table. Be sure that you have an even overhang on all sides of the table – you don’t want one side to have six inches of material hanging down while the opposite side has barely an inch, it will look stupid.
Put down clean & matching placemats
Next, you can start putting down all the placemats and coasters. Two things to ensure you get right here are:
- The placemats need to all be the same
- They also need to be clean
If you have dirty placemats, give them a thorough wipe so they look new. This might seem “extra” but I think it’s a great idea to have a set of placemats and coasters you only use for dinner parties and special occasions. It means they are less likely to get dirty or look worn down. If you have some placemats that look a bit tired and worn, it’s probably a smart idea to get a few new ones.
Lay the table so each place has a placemat and coaster, but be sure everything is neatly aligned. Wonky placemats don’t seem that bad, but they can make the whole table look pretty rubbish.
Fold some napkins
Before you put some cutlery down, it’s a good idea to place a few napkins on the table. Put one for each person, and be sure that it’s a napkin, not just a strip of kitchen towel. Much like the tablecloth, this gives an extra air of class to your table setting.
You could fold the napkin neatly into a triangle shape, or you could go the extra mile and try something different. The video below gives you eight different ideas for folding napkins that will really wow your guests. You don’t have to do this, but if you want to stand out and look cool, it’s a pretty clever idea.
Place the cutlery by each placemat
Next, you need to get your cutlery out and ready. The exact utensils you use will depend on what you’re serving. If you’re only serving up one dish, you might only need a knife and fork.
However, if you’ve got a starter, main and dessert, you’ll have lots of different crockery to put down. Here, you need to lay the table as people would in a restaurant. There’s a good article here that shows you how to do just that – it’s more complicated than you think!
Finish with a centrepiece
Last but not least, complete your table with a centrepiece. Find something to go in the middle of the table that ties the whole thing together and looks lovely. This could be a fruit bowl, a table decoration, or even something as simple as a candle. The idea is to give your table an extra boost, so it looks even more lovely.
On that note, you have now discovered how to lay your dining table for a dinner party. It’s not overly challenging, but your guests are sure to notice the effort you’ve made. Don’t be surprised if everyone else tries to copy your style when they host you for dinner parties in the future. Also, you can apply these tips to set the table for a cute date night with your partner – the centrepiece could be a really romantic candle here, and the tablecloth could be red to symbolise love.