3 Great Tips For Designing Your Table Setting

So you’re hosting a dinner in a few days. You think you have everything ready—the menu, the house décor, even your dress. And then it hits you—you still don’t know how your table should look on the day. Should you use a mug or a wine glass, or both? Should you have flowers as your centerpiece? Or maybe candles would be better?

Designing a table setting is an art, which means that it requires careful thought. The key is to do some research so you can find the design that, well, works. To help, here are three great tips for designing your table setting:


1. Know The General Rules

Although designing a table setting is an art, it doesn’t mean that everything is all about creativity. Strictly speaking, the art of designing a table setting requires you, the designer, to know the basic rules on placement in the first place. The rules are not that hard to remember, since they are based on how an ordinary person typically eats their meal. Here are some of the basics for each element:

• Utensils: The order of utensils on the table depends on the order in which they will be used in the course of the meal. For instance, a salad fork should be placed at the outermost part, since salads are typically eaten before the main course.

◦ Forks: Forks should be placed left of the main plate. Dessert forks, however, go above the plate instead.

◦ Spoons: These should be placed to the right of the main plate. Dessert spoons, like dessert forks, go above the main plate.

◦ Knives: These should be placed on the right side of the plate.

• Serving Plate: The serving plate goes in the middle of the placemat.

• Glass: To the right of the plate and above the main knife is where the water glass goes. The wine glass goes to the right of the water glass.

The general rule is, you only put the pieces that you and your guests need for the meal on the table. Do not design the table setting to impress. Design it to make your life and your guests’ lives easier.

2. Choose A Table Setting Type

It’s important to pick a table setting type so you’ll know how the other elements in the table setting should look. Below are some of the types:

• Formal: In this type of table setting, the elements are placed symmetrically on the table. Loud tablecloth colors and designs are a no-no. The centerpiece should also feel formal. Try a candlestick, for example.

This type of table setting is used in weddings and business dinners, among other formal events. There are event tips you can check out so you can design your own version of the formal table setting for each occasion.

• Informal: This is widely used. The designer has more liberty in choosing the colors and designs of the tablecloth. The centerpiece is also more fun and casual. A vase of flowers, for instance, will do.

This table setting is typically used in birthday parties and casual dinners. If you want to invite someone for coffee and put a smile on their face, you can also use this type. You can even make your guest happier by checking out coffee tips and serving them the best coffee they’ve ever had.

3. Let Your Creative Juices Flow

Sure, there are rules to follow when designing a table setting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and make that design your own. There are many ways you can leave your mark on the table setting without compromising the basic rules on placement and the basic rules of each table setting type. Here are some suggestions:

• If you’re having a meal in the garden, or are eating food strictly for vegetarians with a friend, you can fill your table with flower petals to highlight your event.

• You can unlock the benefits of fat in that home-made ice cream recipe with your friend without worrying about where to get the napkins, which are in customized napkin rings made of wood (also “home-made” or manually carved by an artisan).

• Are apples your dessert? Then make them available to your guests in a fruit holder that also acts as the centerpiece.

• If you’re having sushi, you can consider placing origami figures on the table, too, to celebrate Japanese culture.

The list can go on, depending on how far your imagination can take you. Remember that, again, designing a table setting is an art form, so play around and be as artistic as possible with the elements on the table.


Designing a table setting is much like painting. The process itself is an artistic one that still requires the execution of basic principles. Like paintings, which are reflections of the feelings and views of the artist, table settings are also a reflection of the designer’s feelings and views. Want to know yourself a bit more? Design a table setting and be amazed at the results, both on the table and in your journey towards self-discovery.