Dec 14th 2013

How to Create the Perfect Dinner Party Table

How to Create the Perfect Dinner Party Table

So all those Christmas food programmes and a series of parties over the New Year has inspired you, and suddenly you decide that in 2017 your inner ‘Delia’ needs to shine, so you invite a group of friends for a dinner party. The burning question – how to create the perfect dinner party table?

Getting the menu, ambience and drinks right is obviously important, but one key element that deserves just as much attention is the dinner table.  This needs to be the focal point to the night – so follow some practical advice to getting it right:

‘Before you start, decide on the formality of the dinner?  Family or adult?  Traditional or relaxed?  This will determine the style of your table setting.  There are also traditional ways to lay and dress a table, but don’t be afraid to break some rules….after all, it is your home and your dinner, so be creative!’ 

So, here’s our advice on How to Create the Perfect Dinner Party Table:

1- The table – will your dining space seat all the guests comfortably and with enough elbow room to eat and space to pull chairs out?  If not, consider hiring an extra table and chairs for the night. If it is a small dining area, look at hiring a Perspex/glass table and chairs to add to the sense of space.  This also adds a contemporary edge as you can keep your table design simple and go without linens.

perfect dinner party

2 – Dinner plan – Decide on a menu and style of dinner service.  For example, think if you will need to leave space in the centre of the table for serving dishes or a lazy Susan upon which you can serve mini desserts, or will everything be plated and served?  It will determine how you dress the table.

3 – Table linens – The more formal the dinner, the more lavish the linens.  For a contemporary feel, opt for plain white and for a more vintage edge, deep purples or dark reds.  Also think texture – metallic table linens are very popular for example.

4 – Cutlery – keep this simple and opt for silver for a modern feel, gold for a warm traditional look.  Ensure it is clean and you have enough to lay it for all courses.  If not, hire some for the night. As a general rule, place forks to the left and knives to the right of the place setting and in the order of its use, from the outside in, first course to main course.  For a more informal dinner, it’s fine to bring dessert cutlery out with the dessert and coffees.

5- Glassware – this can be a real feature so use an unusual shaped glass or something coloured to add to the décor.  Lay enough glasses for wines and water. The formal arrangement is to lay a water glass at the back, wine glass, then a dessert glass closest to your guest.

how to create the perfect dinner party table

6 – Table Plan – Personalise places with bespoke name cards, ice the names on a chocolate gift (which then does double-duty as a tasty treat), or chalk them on a small piece of slate for a rustic touch.  Select an element in keeping with your ‘theme’ and be creative!  Forget seating male next to female – too old hat in my book – more important I think to consider who is seated together so that conversation, not conflict, flows!

7 – Condiments – Offer individual salt and pepper pots, individual butter dishes and miniature gravy jugs for each person to stop guests stretching over the table or passing the gravy around!  There are lots of stores who sell these now, so invest in some and you will use them over and over.

8 – Candles – there are some fabulous candles now which can be a real focal point and table centre in their own right – adding colour, scent and warmth.  Just keep displays low for a family dinner, so the children don’t knock them over, or if rooms are small & with low ceilings. Try floating tea lights alongside flower petals in glass bowls or in Perspex boxes /troughs surrounded by flowers. High ceiling rooms look great with very tall, slim candles to emphasis height, and they don’t get in the way of dinner conversation.

Winter Wedding CandlesWinter Wedding CandlesWinter Wedding Candles

9 – Flowers – fresh flowers always look good on a dinner table.  Low displays or several small displays in a line are best in small dining rooms.  Also consider using seasonal produce such as apples, oranges and lemons in table displays, and at Christmas try nuts, cinnamon, dates and Satsuma for an amazing aroma and edible too!

10 – Napkins – should always be cloth and matching your table cloth.  If you aren’t using a table cloth, you can experiment with some of the lovely coloured napkins now available.  Fold in the centre of your plate charger or place setting, or tie with a napkin ring.

If you enjoyed reading our tips on how to create the perfect dinner party table, visit our gallery of party images at