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Every memorable Christmas feast begins with a wonderful tablescape. From the elegant place settings to the thoughtful arrangement of seats, the amount of preparation made is a sign of how much the host appreciates the presence of friends and family during this special occasion.
Knowing how to properly set a table and where to seat guests is the foundation of a great dinner party, and it is a skill that takes both time and practice to perfect. The art of setting a formal dinner table goes well beyond simply putting together flatware and china; it's about creating an atmosphere where guests can truly enjoy each other's company during the holiday season.
Our easy-to-follow guide to Christmas table settings will teach you all of the fundamentals you'll need to know to prepare a formal holiday table with a touch of elegance.
Choosing the appropriate tableware for your dinner courses and selecting table accents that signify your style help create an impeccable holiday ambiance.Whether you are going for a wintry white table scape with a magnificent ice sculpture for your centerpiece, or an opulent red and gold motif to give your place settings a regal touch, your guests will appreciate the effort that goes into putting together a wonderful holiday table.
For a more luxurious dining experience, try adding a few accents to your place settings to draw your guests' attention to the exquisite meal at hand. These decorative pieces will help turn your holiday dinner into an unforgettable experience for family and friends alike.
After choosing the right elements for your holiday tablescape, it is now time to arrange each cover or place setting. Remember that a proper place setting requires the right flatware, glass, china, and linen, and should span 15 to 24 inches to allow enough elbowroom for each guest to move comfortably when seated.
1. Ensure that the edges of the tablecloth hang evenly on the sides.
2. When the tablecloth has been set, place the larger decorations of your centerpiece, such as flower arrangements or candelabra, in the middle of the table. Keep in mind these decorations will serve as the focal point of the dining room.
3. Add in the smaller decorations, such as tea lights or candlesticks, to your tablescape.
4. Set the placemats half an inch from the edge of the table.
5. Position the service plate at the center of the placemat and about an inch away from the edge of the table.
6. Set the salad plate or soup bowl on top of the service plate.
7. Fold the cloth napkin according to your desired pattern and set it in the middle of the soup bowl. You can also set the napkin on the left side, but always make sure it is easily accessible.
8. Begin arranging the silverware by placing the larger utensils in the innermost areas first, and working your way out. Remember to align the lower edges of the utensils with the bottom rim of the service plate, about an inch away from the edge of the table.
9. Set the dinner fork on the left side of the plate and the dinner knife on the right. Ensure that the sharp edge of the knife is turned toward the plate.
10. If you will be serving fish, place the fish knife to the right of the dinner knife. Also turn the sharp edge of the knife toward the plate.
11. Set the teaspoon to the right of the knives then place the dinner spoon next to the teaspoon. Place the soup spoon to the right of the dinner spoon.
12. If you will be serving other seafood, such as shrimp or oysters, nestle the oyster fork in the bowl of the soup spoon (the oyster fork is the only fork that should be placed on the right side).
13. Place the fish fork or salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. If the fish will be served first, the fish fork should be placed the furthest to the left. If the salad will be served first, the salad fork should be the outermost utensil.
14. If you will be serving dinner rolls on a bread plate, set the dish in the upper left corner of the placemat, just above the forks. Place the butter knife diagonally on the bread plate with the handle on the right side and the blade pointed down.
15. When arranging glassware, place the glass for the red wine directly above the dinner knife. To the left of the red wineglass is the water goblet; to the right, the white wineglass. Next to the water goblet is the champagne flute.
16. When dessert is served, place the coffee cup and saucer in front of the wine glasses.
17. Place the dessert fork along the top edge of the service plate, with the tines pointed toward the glasses.
18. Set the dessert spoon parallel to the dessert fork, with the bowl of the spoon pointed in the opposite direction.
19. Have salt and pepper ready in a cruet set or in salt and pepper shakers. You may also use a salt cellar, which is a small container with a tiny spoon. One or two sets will suffice. If individual salt and pepper shakers will be provided, set them above the dinner fork.
20. When each place setting is complete, don't forget to set a beautiful place card with the name of your guest in the upper left corner of the placemat or in the middle of the china.
By determining the proper seating arrangement, you can help to group your guests according to their common interests or unique personalities. Creating a proper seating arrangement based on your own knowledge of your dinner guests will help promote interaction between guests, as well as keep a jovial and effervescent atmosphere throughout the evening.
Guests of honor are those who belong to a specific place of value in the family. They can be elderly guests, guests with a distinguished career or other important achievement, and those who are celebrating a milestone, such as a promotion or special anniversary, that year.
People with similar interests are often seated together in social gatherings. This is a great way for the hosts and guests to start conversations and make an impression on each other.
Guests who love striking up a conversation should be seated with those who enjoy listening to other people's ideas. Avoid seating together two people who might end up competing with each other for talking-time and attention. Discovering the characteristics and tendencies of your guests is a great way to learn about how and whom they will interact with best.
To avoid confusion,when expecting more than six people to attend your dinner party, you should place name cards at each cover to inform guests of where they should be seated.
The right side of the host is considered the place of honor at the table. The host is to assist the lady to his right in seating before he himself takes his seat. All gentlemen are to do the same with the ladies to their right.The hosts and the guest of honor may sit on opposite ends of the table.
Infuse timeless elegance into your dinner party by using a more traditional design for your tablescape. In this place setting, the Christmas colors red, green, and yellow are made prominent in the selection of glassware, placemats, napkins, and ornaments. While there may not be any tablecloth, the red placemats and napkins complement the varnished wood surface of the table, while also protecting it from any hot food or liquid that may be served. The warm ambient lighting adds to the appetizing look of this setting.
Create an idyllic country-style feast with this simple yet charming table scape that combines a dried foliage centerpiece with rustic orange and yellow berry highlights. With simple acorn embellishments in each dish, this place setting focuses on the earthiness of the design. The glassware and white china exude simple elegance, while the red placemats allow the tableware to stand out.
The perfect fusion of style and functionality, this contemporary table features minimalist elegance that allows for an uncluttered view across the table. The blue and etched crystal glasses are both decorative and functional, while the silver napkin ring and silvery pine complete the table's holiday feel. The soothing color scheme created by the white tablecloth and blue glasses give you a modern vision of a wintry Christmas.
Creating an ideal table setting and seating your guests thoughtfully are two integral parts of providing friends and family a pleasant holiday dining experience. With our guide to Christmas table settings, you can turn each banquet into a feast that will definitely be worth remembering.