Dinner Party Decorations and Table Settings

Step One: Research for Dinner Party Decorations

The Ambience of the dinner party is based upon the theme. In order to plan the dinner party decorations, you must do some research. If the theme is a country or cuisine, type it into a search engine. If the theme is a person, (a spouse for example) think about that person’s likes and dislikes, and then do research on the likes. If it is to be a dinner party for business reasons, what sort of business is it? I find that the best way to do research is to use the web. Of course, there are other avenues, the library, encyclopedias, people…

Say for example, you wanted to give a dinner party with the theme of Origami, you could type that into a search engine, or look it up at the library or enclyclopedia. What does the subject involve? What things make it special and memorable? Once we’ve done the research, we can begin to develop dinner party decorations, the props and menu. In this case, you would need lots of colored paper, scissors and a Japanese dinner party menu. You can then use the same research tools to find the props. If they are too expensive, or you can’t find what you want, I suggest that you visit a craft store and ask an employee how to make what you want. I find that they’re usually very helpful. Of course, you could do a web search for craft stores in your area.

Dinner Party Decorations and Table Settings

Dinner Party Decorations and Table Settings

Step Two: Table Centerpieces:

The dinner party centerpiece should reflect the theme. A lot of time, I try to use flowers and fruit from the country whose menu the theme reflects. For example, if the theme is the Provence area of France, I might try to find some lavender, and I might use lemons as part of the arrangement. Whatever you use, just remember that in order for people to talk to each other at the table, they must be able to see over the centerpiece. A height of 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25cm) is about right. That way they can see the centerpiece and still see each other.

You could also use very high centerpieces if the scale of the room is very large. For example, if the ceiling were very high. Just be sure that guests don’t have to look around the centerpiece in order to see and talk with each other.

What if the theme is a person? Go once again to the list of their likes. Perhaps this person loves red sportscars. Well, maybe you could use an inverted cone of florist’s styrofoam and glue “Match Box” cars to it, with leather leaf fern in between, or maybe an 18 inch long Model T, painted bright red, sitting on a bed of ferns. I do spend a great deal of time in craft stores looking for new ideas.

In my opinion, you can never go wrong with flowers and candles. Just be careful with the open flames. Don’t leave lit candles unattended or place them close to flammable things.

Step Three: Place Settings

This part of dinner party decorations will follow the menu. As a general rule, the fork goes on the left hand side of the plate, the knife on the right, sharp side IN ( so as to not accidently cut yourself) and the spoon outside the knife. All the bottoms should line up. If you are having more than one course, the utensils should line up from the outside to the inside, to follow the courses…. For example, let’s look at the following fairly simple menu:

Carrot Ginger Soup
Shrimp, Honeydew Melon and Mint Salad
Pecan Crusted Pork Chops
Carrots Vichy
Parsley Potatoes
Molten Chocolate Cake

So, from left to right, you should have the following utensils:

  • Salad Fork
  • Dinner Fork
  • Plate,(Charger)
  • Entree Knife
  • Salad Knife
  • Soup Spoon

Formal place setting begins with the charger. Food never touches this service plate. Table is set with first course on top of the charger. When the first course is removed, the charger is removed as well. There are four glasses, placed left to right above spoons and knives, if you need them: water, champagne, white or red, and dessert wine. Forks are on the left and set in the order in which they are to be used. From left to right. Outermost fork is used first. Appetizer fork, salad fork, and dinner fork. (The only exception to the fork rule is this: shellfish fork is placed on right).
Spoons and knives are placed on the right hand side. They are also placed in the order in which they are to be used. So, on the right, from out to in (right to left) we have: seafood fork, soupspoon, teaspoon, salad knife, meat knife.
A butter knife sits on the bread plate, which is above the forks.

Spoons and Forks for dessert can either be put out after the dinner plates have been cleared or placed over the service plate. (At where 12:00 would be on a clock) with the fork handle facing left and the spoon handle facing right, just slide them down into place when the time comes for dessert and coffee/tea.

A napkin is usually folded on top of the service plate or to the left of the forks.