5 Tips for Elevating Any Table Setting

Posted by Ariel Davis on

Creating a memorable tablescape for an important occasion or celebration can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you're hosting a dinner party for close friends or a holiday meal for your family, setting the table can be an enjoyable way to set the tone of your gathering and make your guests feel special.

In this post, we'll share our top 5 tips for setting the table that will help you create a welcoming and unique setting for any occasion. And while incorporating your fine china is optional, it's definitely a great way to add a touch of warmth and elegance to your table. So, let's get started and make your next special meal one to remember!

Tip #1: Pair something familiar with something unexpected

When considering our tablescape design, we always try to combine something familiar with something unexpected or unique. This approach can help guests feel comfortable, while also providing interest and excitement to the occasion.

Thanksgiving place setting tablescape with Spode fine china and a bright orange linen napkin, with napkin ring and sprig of herb

During the holiday season, for example, you might always set the table with your family's heirloom dishes as the foundation, but then shake things up with decorative elements like chargers, napkin rings, runners, and candles.

Tip #2. Highlight the season

We’re not just talking about bringing fresh, seasonal flavors to your menu or cocktails—consider adding tabletop décor that reflects the season too. Sunflowers and daisies for summer events, mums in the fall, even herbs in your floral arrangements is a nice touch that's also eco-friendly.

Place cards are another opportunity to add seasonal flair. In Fall, you could use items like leaves, acorns, pinecones, or mini pumpkins to create personalized place cards. For Christmas, we love these mini Rosemary wreath place cards from Spoon Fork Bacon for individual place settings:

Rosemary Wreath Place Cards for Christmas Table Setting

Not only do these adorable place cards set a festive vibe, but they make the table smell deliciously fragrant too.  

Tip #3: Add height

When done correctly, using tabletop décor of varying heights can create a more dynamic and inviting table setting. To add height, we often turn to décor like:

  • Tall vases with flowers
  • Tall coffee pots (in lieu of vases)
  • Tapered candlesticks
  • Cake stands
  • Stacking elements like teacups, saucers and bowls on top of one another
  • Tiered Serving Trays and Stands

Tiered trays make a decorative and functional centerpiece on any table. Whether you’re dressing up the table with seasonal décor or you want to serve small bites and canapes without having to pass food around the table, these serving pieces make a statement and can make hosting a whole lot easier.

4 Tier Serving Tray made from vintage china china styled with seasonal fall flowers - for a table center piece

Just a note: When it comes to creating a tablescape for a buffet table, your tabletop décor can go as high at you want! If you’re styling a longer table with people seated on both sides, you should steer away from extra tall pieces to avoid obstructing someone’s view or ability to converse across the table.

If you really have your heart set on a grand centerpiece at your next special occasion, go for it…  just perhaps plan to remove the display before your loved ones take their seats.

Tip 4: Add texture & pops of color

Consider styling your table with different textures to make it more dynamic and give it that extra oomph. You can get texture in a variety of ways such as woven fabric placemats, cut glass or glassware, embroidered or fringed napkins, or printed menus. You can add pops of color through all of these elements—not to mention your choice of dinnerware and serving pieces.

place setting for a tea party with mix and matched vintage china in blue and pink with pink napkin

Another way to add texture is to include personal touches like the family heirloom china that's probably collecting dust in storage. Why not bring out grandma's teacup collection and place one at each place setting? Or mix and match modern patterns with antiques for an eclectic vibe that reflects your personal style.

With the right combination of textures, you can create a memorable and eye-catching table setting that will enhance the entire atmosphere and dining experience.

Tip #5: Mix in décor that sparks conversation

As you think about setting the table for your next gathering, consider choosing at least one decorative element that can serve as a conversation starter. This can serve as a fun opportunity to break the ice and introduce a topic of discussion that kicks off an enjoyable meal.

As lovers of vintage china, we’re always trying to come up with fresh ways to incorporate our favorite pieces into our entertaining repertoire. There are many different ways to do so that don’t require you to take out an entire twelve-piece set (and then have to wash the dishes!).

teacup snack stand made from grandmother's vintage china being used to serve dried fruit, nuts and crackers on table setting

For example, you might use grandma’s teacups and saucers as serving bowls for nuts, candies, or even crudité and dip. Or you might incorporate your china for decorative purposes, such as using teacups for mini floral arrangements.

pink and purple Shelley and Royal Albert teacups and saucers being use for floral arrangements

The key is to execute visually appealing flourishes that set the tone for how you want guests to feel. 

Bonus tip: Set the table the night before.

blue and white transferware plates - place setting with menu card, calligraped place card and utensils

Pre-setting the table saves you time and stress on the day of the event and helps the hosting process run must smoothly. By preparing the table ahead of time, you're better able to focus on connecting with your guests and enjoying their company. It also allows you to have your space prepared and better organized so you can procure any last-minute things you might have forgotten and delegate responsibilities to helpful co-hosts and eager guests.

Do you have a favorite tip or go-to trick when you're setting the table? We'd love to know. Share in comments below!

Follow The Brooklyn Teacup for more hosting inspiration and ideas for putting the good china to good use. 

Also, check out Amanda Lauren's Forbes article featuring The Brooklyn Teacup, where a few of these tips were mentioned, for more entertaining inspiration.

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