Table setting tips every party host should know

Table setting. Credit: Shannon Morris

Alice Piper

Posted December 09, 2021

Whether it’s a festive celebration, birthday, or casual dinner, impress your guests and elevate your hospitality with these simple tips.

The joys of dinner parties and in-home celebrations are in full swing, and while we can endlessly ponder and overthink the menu, the attention given to the presentation of the dining table is often one of the most overlooked aspects of hosting a party.

Anyone hosting Christmas lunch, a birthday party, or even a casual Saturday night catch-up needs to consider the impact first impressions can make.

The table setting can influence the entire dining experience, including the atmosphere, enticement of the food, along with showing your guests you appreciate their company. Next time you’re setting your dining table for an occasion, consider these elements to lift your party from a dull dinner, to a spectacular soireé.

The season

Your table is going to look different based on the season, something Francis Van Poelvoorde, RACV Healesville Country Club and Resort Restaurant Manager says should be a top consideration. 

“Different seasons bring about different themes, as well as different colours, textures and smells.” 

“I like to incorporate colours that match the time of year, so a lot of greenery around Christmas and summertime, and some winter flowers or even a big bowl of fresh herbs looks great if you’re entertaining in the middle of the year,” he adds. 

The centrepiece

If you’ve decided to feature a centrepiece on the table, always consider your guests’ line of sight – you want to make sure your guests can see each other across the table. 

When using florals, you can opt for one central and statement-making arrangement, or a few smaller bouquets. Candles lining the centre of the table is a fantastic way to create a more intimate feeling. 

Just don’t forget how much food will be on the table and choose a centrepiece that won’t disrupt the meal or take up too much space. 


The colour of the linen can greatly affect the mood. Credit: Shannon Morris.
Neutral colour palettes lend themselves well to brighter centerpieces. Credit: Shannon Morris.


The colour scheme of the linen on the table will help set the mood. Factor in all the elements including tablecloths, napkins, table runners, and anything else you’d like to incorporate. 

“A good tablecloth can’t be underestimated,” says Poelvoorde. “In summer, try a crisp white and build on it with colours, and for a more formal occasion, use a table runner too.” 


Having pre-dinner bubbles? Make your guests feel welcomed on arrival by having champagne flutes on a drinks tray, leaving space on the table for white wine, red wine, and water glasses. 


Glassware on the table should be kept to a minimum. Credit: Shannon Morris.
Different textures add interest to the table decoration. Credit: Shannon Morris.

Crockery and cutlery

Stacking the entrée plate on top of the main plate on your table setting is a stylish and contemporary way to showcase your crockery – it also leaves enough room for the bread plate on the right, and platters in the middle. 

Your cutlery selection depends on the number of courses you’re serving, as well as the side dishes. As standard, you’ll need an entrée fork and knife, main fork and knife, as well as a dessert spoon. 

Special touches 

Make your guests feel extra special with little touches like little gifts, individual salt ‘n’ pepper shakers, or even a little gift to say, ‘thanks for coming’.  

“I love a special touch, like a charm on everyone’s wine glass, a little surprise folded within the napkin, or photos for each of the guests,” says Poelvoorde.