Table setting is easy way to impress your guests when entertaining, but it’s often the last thing we do whilst finishing our hair and make-up before the guests arrive!
We’re usually too busy buying all the ingredients, cleaning the house and cooking the meal – what goes onto the table is often an afterthought.
However, it’s considerably easier than we think to add some extra special touches to your dining area to make your guests feel special.
The French way of setting a table is shrouded in etiquette and its often the simplest of features, such as beautiful patterned plates or a gorgeous bunch of flowers, that guests will remember long after the meal is finished.
We loved this article from Houzz that gave us some fantastic tips on how to properly set your table the French Way when entertaining guests, and we wanted to share these with you to help make your next dinner party unforgettable!
Creating the Perfect Environment
Before you even begin setting the table, always make sure you choose the correct space to entertain.
If it is a beautiful, warm summer day, consider eating with your guests outside, or if it’s on the colder side, next to a crackling open fire… for those of you lucky enough to have one!
Declutter and vacuum the space if necessary so that your guests are comfortable and have plenty of space to enjoy their meal.
Make it easy for your guests to move to and from the table, and also that there is enough room between each seat. For an extra touch, we think it’s lovely to add something decorative to the room, whether it be some florals, a beautiful art piece or a scented candle.
Designing the Table Base with Table Cloths
Use a beautiful tablecloth that is appropriate for the setting and hang it centred on the table. To create extra padding, you may consider placing a second tablecloth underneath to eliminate noise made when placing down silverware and plates.
The Art of Place Setting
It is recommended that you allow around 80 centimetres per guest so that they have enough room to move. Place plates on the table with adequate space in between and align with the edge of the table. We also suggest using a patterned placemat underneath your plates to add a lovely pop of colour to the table!
Next, lay out your silverware – place the utensils for the first meal on the outside and work your way inwards, with forks on the left and knives on the right. Have a cheese knife horizontally at the top of the plate setting if required, as well as any other utensils needed for particular meals such as shellfish. If eating red meat, ensure that you provide a sharp, serrated knife. If serving bread, place a small plate to the left of the setting, above the forks.
Always place glasses to the right of the setting, above the knife. If multiple glasses are being used, order them from largest to smallest from the middle of the table outwards, for accessibility and to prevent accidental spills. To clear space, glasses can be removed as they are used.
Don’t Forget the Condiments
Split your condiments into a couple of dishes and place them at regular intervals along the table. This allows them to be easily reachable for guests and saves them having to regularly pass them along the table.
Group salt & pepper shakers around centrepieces and also have a spare dish for any waste from certain dishes, such as seafood. We suggest using a small tray to place condiments on to make it even easier to pass around the table!
Add napkins to each of your settings, and for a special touch, fold them into a beautiful shape. Something simple, like a crown shape is easy to learn and shows that you’ve put effort and thought into the table.
For an easier alternative, simply fold the napkins neatly in half and place on top of the plate.
For extra effect, we’d suggest adding a personalised touch such as a place setting with your guests’ names on them, or a small bunch of florals tied to the napkin that they can take home with them at the end of the evening.
Choose a beautiful centrepiece for your table to complete the setting. We always love a bunch of seasonal flowers, candles or a statement art piece will add character and tie your entire table together. You could place small bunches of flowers at intervals along the table, or one vase in the centre.
The French Table is Set
With a few simple touches, it’s so easy to create a lovely table setting to complement a beautifully cooked meal.
A clean environment, the right base, beautifully set cutlery, simple decorations like flowers or candles and the matching condiments can be transformative!
Try some of these tips out at your next dinner party and enjoy a night you’ll never forget! Share your French table with us on Facebook.