There are many theories about preparing a dining table, all different from each other. Yet there is only one rule to distinguish a well set dining table from a bad one: good taste.
Said the above, it’s easy to set a dining table, whether it must be formal or simple. You just have to follow a scheme, which is the base for all the mise en place.
You can choose a standard tablecloth, a placemat or a runner, but remember: the napkin must be always placed on the left and bent into a rectangle.
Once, this is done, it’s time to set the table place or placè, that defines the dining space of each guest, in other words the physical space (normally between 40 and 60 cm). This space is defined by the placement of a plate, an underplate or simply a placemat. It depends on the kind of setting you have chosen.
Arranging plates: The flat plate must always be on the table, placed above the underplate or directly on the tablecloth or on the runner. Above the flat plate, you’ll put the plate for the starter or the soup plate for the main course, it depends on the menu you have planned. It is called “Russian service” when you provide meals already portioned in the dishes and ready to be carried onto the table; the “French service” is when you lay the trays on the table and guests have the opportunity to help themselves.
Cutlery. On the left (of the plate) you’ll place the forks, generally two. To the right, close to the plate, the knife with its blade facing inwards. Following this, a knife for starters or a spoon, according to the menu you have planned.
Glasses. Their place is right above the knife. The first is for water, following the one for red wine and then for white wine. You can remove one of them, but you can’t add more.
Centrepiece. Candles and floral decorations depend only on how formal the table is and on the kind of event you are organizing. Anyway, a flower decoration (better if done with your own hands) or a few candles will help you to give a touch of class to your table.
Dessert cutlery. Once their place was over the plate (knife and fork or spoon). The current trend is bringing them to the table, once you serve the dessert. It is not wrong, however, to put them on the table, when setting it.
Now that you know how to set a perfect table, you just have to decide the menu and invite your guests! Buon Appetito!