There are a few important things to do when arranging a dinner table. First, try to find a theme for the dinner, then put out the proper settings and decorations, and finally you will need to set the mood. There are many themes to use for a successful dinner party; Italian Festival, Mexican Mania, European Foods, Seafood Frenzy, or Seasonal to name a few. Let’s say that you are planning a sea food dinner with crabs, shrimp and fish.
After Martha Stewart has helped you with the recipes, you can start decorating with lobster, sea shell, or other marine motifs on your napkins, glasses and place mats. If you want to use a table cloth, use a solid colored one that matches the color in your place mats or plates. Napkins should always be of fabric and never paper. A new trend is to use your fancy kitchen towels as napkins. There are some very popular ones with different kitchen and food motives or just the classic “check type” squares in red and white or blue and white.
And after dinner, you can use them to dry the dishes as well! Putting out your fine china is at your discretion and would depend on the occasion and the motif you have chosen. Sticking with our seafood theme, to really make your table setting a winner, try to find china with a nautical theme-a lobster plate with a lobster on it makes for a great conversation piece! As with everything, dinner plates are getting bigger and bigger.
Even the manufacturers of dishwashers have noticed and are now building washers with adjustable space between the baskets to accommodate our big appetites. If your china is of the normal size, a nice addition is to find a larger bottom plate that is only used for decoration. You can find them in pewter, gold or silver metal (imitations) and even leather. This small addition can really give your table a more elegant and impressive look. Now that we have our linens and china in place, let’s move on to the cutlery.
The silver ware, of course, does not have to be made of silver. Today’s stainless steel is as elegant and accepted as the silver our parents used (and much easier to take care of-no polishing!). The fork, goes without saying, is placed to the left of the plate while the knife and spoon are placed to the right. If you serve more than one dish (including salad) you should have another fork and knife set placed alongside the others. The dessert utensils are placed on the top of the plate. If you are actually serving seafood, there are special forks and knives which make it easier to dig into the shellfish. They have a long flat spoon on one side and a short two pronged digger on the other; it is the fancy version of a “spork”. This is part one of my mini series of articles about arranging a dinner party for friends.