Back to blog

How to set up a Table

5 May 2016

Start by deciding where the food will be set up and where it will be eaten. If it’s in the dining room or if you will use the dining room only as a buffet and people will eat at other rooms in the house, or if you will set a separate buffet in the garden.

As a general rule, when you are inviting a number of people that can all be seated at the dining table for a formal lunch/dinner, or if it’s an intimate gathering for family and friends, you use the dining table to seat people and also arrange the food on the same table. And if you have a larger number of people, you use the dining table in addition to other tables that you may have as a buffet, and then seat the people at other rooms in the house/garden.


If it’s a dining table:

-          Arrange plates, cutlery, cups and glasses with napkins in front of each seat.

-          Serving platters should be in harmony with each other and with the type of food you are serving; matching colors, sizes, material and preferably a set.

-          It’s always nice to use colorful napkins that match the type of food and your plates better even if they are paper napkins.

-          Put a nice vase of flower arrangement in the center of the dining table. You can add a nice candle holder on each side of the flowers if your table is oval or rectangular but not round.

-          Use plain and simple table cloth of a light color and texture like white and beige. This gives you space to play with the colors of accessories and decorations like flowers and candles. It also allows you to bring out the colors and patterns of the food and plates. It would be nice to use a table runner of matching colors.

-          Make all the serving platters easy to reach for most of the guests. Try to make the platters arranged away from seated people (i.e towards the center) at a higher level to make them more reachable.


If it’s a buffet:

-          If you are using the dining table as a buffet, then apply the same rules as the above but without arranging the plates, cutlery and cups on the table.

-          If it’s a buffet table(s), put plates, cutlery and napkins at the beginning of the buffet or on a separate table. Put drinks, cups and glasses on another table to be accessible to guests at all times, before and after the buffet, even if it’s not in the dining room.

-          Decorate the buffet table with long vases of flower arrangements scattered at equal distances. It’s also original and more modern to fill the vases with colorful vegetables and fruits but use only one kind in each vase, e.g. tomatoes in a vase, lemons in a vase,…etc. You can use candles whether in long chandeliers or scatter floating candles around the platters.

-          Arrange the platters on the buffet in eating order; start by displaying the salads, then appetizers, then main and side dishes, then desserts. Arrange each main dish next to its matching side dish. If you don’t have enough room for desserts, you can arrange them on a separate table or serve them after removing the savory food when people are finished with it.

-          Try to arrange the serving platters at different height levels. This makes the display nicer and also gives you more space for food display. You can do so by putting some platters directly on the table and use other platters with short legs or high stems. You can also put a box covered with a nice cloth underneath the platters you want to raise their height. Always put plates with lower levels at the front and those with higher levels at the back. Tip: an excellent thing to use here is an empty shoe box or a short stool.