how to set a holiday table with flair

Formal table settings are an art form that we rarely get to enjoy in our fast-paced lives today. Dinner in front of the television or eaten hurriedly in the driver's seat of a car have become more ubiquitous as society has accelerated with new our new technologies. Lucky for us, the holidays are about slowing down and reconnecting with our roots. Sitting down to a formally prepared table is one very special way to revitalize relationships with family and friends.

Admit it: when you receive an invitation that reads "black tie" you get just a little more excited because you have an excuse to get dressed to the nines; so why not give your table that same excuse?

Step-By-Step: Set Your Table

Formal table setting
  1. Set out your tablecloth, and either placemats or chargers (select one, not both)
  2. The plate goes in the center of the placemat or charger
  3. Set out your silverware:
    • The dinner fork goes to the left of the plate.
    • The knife goes to the right of the plate, sharp end facing inward toward the plate.
    • If you are serving salad, the salad fork should be placed to the left of the dinner fork.
    • If you are serving soup, the spoon should be placed to the right of the knife.
    • If using a dessert fork or spoon, place it at the top of the plate, lying perpendicular.
    • If using a dessert fork or spoon, place it at the top of the plate, lying perpendicular.
    • Water and wine glasses go to the top right of the plate.
    *Note: Only put out silverware you intend to use.
  4. Add your napkin: napkins are a versatile player; they can be placed to the left of the forks, underneath the forks, or folded and placed on top of the dinner plate to save room.
  5. Lastly, add any centerpieces, flowers, or candles to the table.

Formal table settingOur Blackhawk HOME Department Manager Beverly Townsley has 3 other simple tips for making your holiday table extra special.

  • Candlelight makes everything look special. Whether you are using votives scattered down the center of the table or elegant tapers, make sure to use unscented candles so it doesn't detract from the aromas of your meal.
  • Keep centerpieces or table decor below 18 inches or above 28 inches from the table top to allow your guests to have an unobstructed view of others seated across from them. It is so much easier to carry on a conversation when you can see the people with whom you are dining.
  • Beautiful table linens can add color, texture, and tie the look together. Fortunately, the Draeger's Home department carries a wide assortment of everything you need to dress your table for the holidays. Whether it is a simple gathering or a more formal affair, our knowledgeable staff are here to assist you.