Delicious food and delightful company make for a wonderful dinner party, but a perfect dinner party is made complete by a perfectly set table. The pieces you choose for your table set the tone for the evening.
If it’s a Comfort Food type of night, with dishes like Mac and Cheese, Chicken Soup, and Grandma’s Meatloaf, and old friends and family, a casual table setting is most appropriate. Try setting up the meal in the family room, rather than at the dining room table. Serve the drinks in any and every glass you have available, and use paper napkins. Encourage your guests to come over in their sweatpants, and turn on an old movie in the background. The casual tone of the evening will make for easy, relaxed conversation.
However, a more sophisticated and elegant evening (an evening filled with dishes like Filet Mignon, Foie Gras, and Crepes Suzette…) calls for a different type of table. If you’re hosting a finer meal, a more elaborate table setting will help execute that message. For starters, set the meal up in the dining room. For many people, the dining room is one of the least frequently used rooms in the house, so actually employing it means it must be an important occasion. Think about the guests that you’ve invited over. You’ll want to set up the table bearing in mind which guests will get along and carry on pleasant conversations with one another. Once you’ve decided how to pair off your guests write their names on gilded place cards in holders to match your décor or you can use tented place cards and set up the table accordingly. Cloth napkins, beautiful napkin rings, your finest china and thin taper candles will help effectively convey the idea of a refined and elegant evening.
Obviously, there are hundreds of other ways to set the perfect table, but these are just a few ideas to get you started!